Life of the Party

Melissa McCarthy and husband Ben Falcone cowrote this unofficial remake of the old Rodney Dangerfield vehicle Back to School (1986), with Falcone directing and McCarthy starring as the square parent who enrolls in the same college as her child. The modern academic landscape of safe spaces and microaggression measurement might have given the old premise a good jolt, but Falcone and McCarthy take the easier route of throwing her character into the epic partying of the Greek system. Like a network sitcom, this requires a heavy suspension of disbelief in human nature: the protagonist’s daughter and her sorority sisters couldn’t be more delighted to have a corny middle-aged mom following them around. Most of the laughs come not from McCarthy but from the mugging Gillian Jacobs, given a good, demented role as an older student who’s spent eight years in a coma.