By Victoria Alexander, Film Critic

Luke Benward, I believed you. You were terrific, sincere, sexually obsessed with, and in love with, Melissa McCarthy.

You have seen the trailer. You know LIFE OF THE PARTY is a Falcone-McCarthy vehicle. Deanna’s (McCarthy) adored daughter Maddie (Molly Gordon) is going off for her senior year at college. After dropping her off, Deanna’s husband, Dan (Matt Walsh), says he wants a divorce. He’s been having an affair and plans to sell their house and marry steel-blonde Marcie (Julie Bowen).

Just like most first wife’s stories – the worn-out women who gave up their dreams of a career to work to support their husbands’ getting a medical degree – Deanna now regrets leaving college just a few semesters short of getting her archeologist degree.

With Deanna homeless and alone, she decides to go back to college and get her degree. Now, she is seriously infringing on Molly having the best year at college. Deanna is a big piece of work and not one to spend all her time in the library. She’s got a big personality and self-confidence that makes everyone else look like cardboard cut-outs of themselves.

Deanna does everything to make Maddie ashamed of her. Luckily, Maddie is in a sorority and Deanna is housed in a dorm with a very strange roommate, Leonor (Heidi Gardner).

All of Maddie’s sorority sisters love Deanna, especially the miracle survivor, The Coma Girl, Helen (Gillian Jacobs), whose fame rests on her coming out of a coma after eight years.

So, one would say, both Helen and Deanna are a little “long in the tooth” for being seniors.

Deanna’s recollection of her college days is somewhat mythological and in no way resemble the experience today. Students demand better grades they have not earned, stay on their cell phones during class, ignore the instructor and do mediocre papers. And the instructors generally do not care. After all, college courses are very expensive.

Deanna buys up everything with the college logo – wearing all of it – and decorates her side of her dorm room with the school’s football regalia.

The traditional “mean girls of high school” still reign in college. And they are fearless when mocking old lady Deanna. Especially when the hottest boy in school, Jack (Luke Benward), takes a hypnotic look at Deanna.

Deanna’s bold moves would shame anyone who knows her socially, but Maddie is a good daughter and put up with her outrageous behavior. Deanna, unaware of how she is not fitting in and is embarrassing her daughter, blasts her way into parties.

The only thing a woman wants is to be desired. (Guys, it is the surest way to succeed with a woman – show sincere and obvious infatuation.)

If only there was a sex scene! Deanna cannot resist that longing idolizing gaze of Jack. It’s like the Goddess Venus landed on his doorstep. I believed him. And whoever cast him – whether it was Allison Jones and Kris Redding or Melissa McCarthy – this is Benward’s audition reel. He’s 6’2”, thin, with ancestry Scots-Irish looks and most importantly, made me believe he was nervous meeting Deanna’s parents.

LIFE OF THE PARTY is the oeuvre and the foundation of the Falcone-McCarthy collaboration. Next up will be their fourth movie, SUPER-INTELLIGENCE.

Falcone directed LIFE OF THE PARTY and co-wrote it with McCarthy. I don’t know why they chose this idea for a movie since there is no villain and it’s been done many times already.

I do understand why McCarthy keeps her husband as her creative partner. He is her protection and will make her look good when she evolves into a lovely woman somewhere in the story. It’s also 2 paychecks and a way to support Ben’s directing career. Falcone needs to broaden his director’s  sphere and take a chance directing men.

For McCarthy, it is now time to go balls-out reckless. No need to be sweet and loveable. Melissa, play a killer like Villanelle in KILLING EVE. Why not play a member of a Mafia clean-up crew whose side job is cleaning rooms at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas? Now there’s a great premise for a comedy!

Member of Las Vegas Film Critics Society:

Victoria Alexander lives in Las Vegas, Nevada and answers every email at

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