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Review: Melissa McCarthy Brings Sweet and Silly to “Life of the Party”

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There’s radiant energy to Melissa McCarthy that can light a room, even without the visual hilarity of her big glasses and loud shirts. That charm hasn’t come through with her husband Ben Falcone’s previous efforts to direct her as a comedic lead. She was obnoxious in Tammy and insufferably destructive in The Boss. But, lo and behold, Falcone’s Life of the Party finally brings McCarthy home to a role where she feels naturally likable and amusing. It’s much easier to laugh along with her stammering and slapstick when there’s a reason to pull for her.

McCarthy’s character of Deanna is easy to sympathize with in her well-meaning nature. She’s patient, understanding, and isn’t too far in the dark about how dorky her bedazzled attire appears. She rocks it with glee. But when her husband (Matt Walsh) decides to divorce her, on the eve of their trip to Italy, she feels broken and betrayed. After a drink and some venting, she picks herself up and decides she’ll finish her college degree in archeology. You can imagine the initial shock of her recently enrolled daughter Maddie (Molly Gordon) that she’ll be sharing the same campus with her mother.

For a lesser film, it would be awkwardness ahoy for gags about how the sweater-touting mom doesn’t quite mesh into the current generation. But McCarthy’s character is not that glib, especially when she has a host of other ridiculous characters to play off of, from a fearfully ignorant girl that always asks permission to speak to a wide-eyed weirdo with an inner demon for firing back at the popular girls. Don’t worry; this isn’t another Revenge of the Nerds narrative, despite the cartoonish insertion of mean girls with classic condescending. They have more significant problems is focusing on their majors and gaining enough spirit to venture to a party that they’re more than welcomed to attend.

This cliche avoidance makes Deanna’s insertion into college rather easy and fun when her daughter’s sorority house is more than accepting of a woman that’ll always stop by with a box of donuts or offer to make a lasagna. What college student wouldn’t love her? Perhaps the daughter would blush for the embarrassing stories that will slip out, but even she seems understanding given her mom’s recent divorce. Naturally, she also attracts a new man in her life who happens to be a younger student. That’s awkward, but how could you turn down someone who loves wine as much as you do?

A host of fun comedic talents are assembled outside of the quirky students, all filling out their roles with gusto. Maya Rudolph must’ve drawn from every ounce of energy she had for the part of Deanna’s loyal friend, always trying to be the loudest and boldest of any scene. Chris Parnell fits snugly into the position of a nerdy professor that gets a giggle out of puns, even if nobody as dorky as he digs them. Matt Walsh serves as Deanna’s meek and jerkish ex-husband, in his most natural of comedic brilliance. And Stephen Root bursts onto the scene with an abundance I haven’t seen quite some time as Deanna’s overly frantic and angered father, echoing his King of the Hill role of Bill if he were on steroids and owned a gun.

Life of the Party keeps the energy up, even if it occasionally ventures down random paths. Specific events seem to happen inexplicably and with a required vibe, from McCarthy accidentally tripping out on weed to the last-minute inclusion of musical guest Christina Aguilera. While I did enjoy McCarthy’s character, her film still has that lingering element of refusing to shut the camera off before a scene becomes stale. I kept finding myself wanting scenes to end just a few seconds sooner to better appreciate the light, inviting atmosphere of Deanna in her devotion to school, commitment to friendship, and the daring to pull off a dated dance at a 1980s themed party. There’s enough joy to her presence that I not only refused to question how her school sweater was oversized and bedazzled overnight but appreciated the unspoken spectacle all the more.

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Izzy

Movie Magic: The De-Aging Technique of The Irishman

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Have you read Izzy yet? If so, you know that Izzy makes the apples that give the Gods their youth and immortality. It also seems Robert De Niro discovered one of Izzy’s apples too… In Martin Scorsese’s upcoming biographical film, he stars as Frank “The Irishman” Sheeran, a labor union leader and alleged hitman for the Bufalino crime family. The trailer for the movie, which will premieres NEXT WEEK (!), also features a “de-aged” De Niro. “We’re so used to watching them as the older faces,” Scorsese said in an interview on the A24 podcast. “Does it change the eyes at all? …If that’s the case, what was in the eyes that I liked? Was it intensity? Was it gravitas? Was it threat?…How do we get that? I don’t know.” Some might consider this magic and I for one can’t wait to see the impact of Izzy’s apples on screen for myself. 😉

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“Captain Marvel” Retains Top Slot at the Box Office

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It’s no surprise that in its second weekend, the first Marvel Cinematic Universe of 2019 is still riding high. Captain Marvel, the latest in the MCU with Brie Larson starring as the lead, generated another $69 million over the weekend, placing its domestic total at $266 million. Tallying up the international box office, the film’s global total to date is $760 million. Despite the online controversy, the film is looking to be another strong box office smash for Disney and Marvel.

As for the premieres for the weekend, and there were plenty, they were all over the map. Just below Captain Marvel was the animated adventure Wonder Park, bringing in $16 million, another film with controversy when the director’s name was removed from the picture after sexual harassment charges. Five Feet Apart, the dying teen drama about a romance amid cystic fibrosis, only came in at #3 with a weekend gross of $13 million. And debuting the lowest in the top 10 for debuts was Captive State, a sci-fi dystopian tale, only making $3 million. The film debuted so low the little film No Manches Frida 2 was able to sneak about it at #6 with a gross of $3.8 million.

Drops were fairly low all around for the returning films, mostly because Captain Marvel was dominating the previous weekend. The only milestone worth noting is that The LEGO Movie 2, after six weeks at the box office, finally cracked $100 million. And the sun is now setting on Green Book’s post-Oscar run by coming in at #10 for the final weekend of its top 10 run over the past few weeks.

View the full top ten weekend box office results below:

Captain Marvel ($69,318,000)

Wonder Park ($16,000,000)

Five Feet Apart ($13,150,000)

How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World ($9,345,000)

Tyler Perry’s A Madea Family Funeral ($8,085,000)

No Manches Frida 2 ($3,894,000)

Captive State ($3,163,000)

The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part ($2,135,000)

Alita: Battle Angel ($1,900,000)

Green Book ($1,277,000)

Next weekend, Captain Marvel may very well have some competition when Jordan Peele’s new horror film Us hits over 3,600 theaters.

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“Dragon” Continues To Soar, “Funeral” Close Behind, “Green Book” Back

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With little competition for the weekend, How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World, the third in the animated fantasy saga, was able to secure the box office once more. In its second weekend, the animated epic made $30 million to push its domestic total to $97 million. So far the film has done about the same as the previous film and is on track to stay in the top 10 for a few more weeks in March.

Debuts this weekend were small with one big exception. Tyler Perry’s latest Madea film, A Madea Family Funeral, naturally made a relatively big splash with its dedicated audience. Starting at #2, the film made $27 million for its first weekend. No word on the budget yet but it’s most likely on a budget as most Tyler Perry productions are, so it’s safe to call this a success, especially for debuting with a box office so close to Dragon.

The rest of the premieres were not as strong at all. Greta, the new thriller starring Chloe Moretz, debuted all the way down at #8 with $4.5 million box office. To be fair, however, the film was in a constant battle for its spot as three other films also reported earnings around $4 million for the weekend. Of note, Green Book, fresh off winning the Academy Award for Best Picture one weekend ago, splashed back into more theaters to arise even higher in the top 10 with its domestic total now sitting at $73 million. Don’t count on it remaining there long as bigger blockbusters will be swooping as we plow through the last remnants of winter movies.

Check out the full listing of the top 10 box office weekend results below:

How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World ($30,046,000)

Tyler Perry’s A Madea Family Funeral ($27,050,000)

Alita: Battle Angel ($7,000,000)

The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part ($6,615,000)

Green Book ($4,711,000)

Fighting With My Family ($4,691,284)

Isn’t it Romantic ($4,645,000)

Greta ($4,585,000)

What Men Want ($2,700,000)

Happy Death Day 2U ($2,516,000)

Next weekend is once again all about Marvel as their latest superhero solo film, Captain Marvel, will be appearing in 4,100 theaters.

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