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Life of the Party review: funny moments and an earnest message

Life of the Party review: funny moments and an earnest message
12 May
3:57

LIFE OF THE PARTY ★★★
(M) 105 minutes

Melissa McCarthy became an overnight sensation in one movie – after 15 years of hard work. The movie was Bridesmaids from 2011, and she wasn’t exactly unknown. Her support role in The Gilmore Girls from 2000 to 2007 established her credibility as a comedic actress. Bridesmaids put her into the movie big time, partly because of a scene that was as gross as anything in any male gross-out comedy – six women discovering they have food poisoning, while at a bridal fitting. Eek.

McCarthy since then has become a cultural and box office phenomenon. Her next two movies, The Heat and Identity Thief, took $US400 million between them, but again, she was co-star. St Vincent, opposite Bill Murray, made a lot less money but showed she could handle a dramatic role. In 2014, she co-starred in Tammy with Susan Sarandon, but this time, the director was her husband, actor/director Ben Falcone. They co-wrote it and produced it via their own production company.

Up to this point, McCarthy was always one half of the bill, the funny fat woman with the skinny straight man who was usually a woman. In 2015, she took the lead in Spy, directed by Paul Feig. That movie, which took $US235 million, is still her greatest hit – and that was important. Hollywood until then could pigeon-hole her as a reliable co-lead. Spy made her a headliner, capable of sustaining a movie by herself. In that same year, she became the third highest paid female actor in the world, behind Jennifer Lawrence and Scarlett Johansson. McCarthy went to number two in 2016, when she co-starred in the fairly ordinary Ghostbusters remake.

Adria Arjoni, Melissa McCarthy and Molly Gordon in a scene from Life of the Party.

Adria Arjoni, Melissa McCarthy and Molly Gordon in a scene from Life of the Party.

Photo: Hopper Stone

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