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Life Of The Party (Blu-ray Review)

If Rodney Dangerfield once could go Back To School, then surely Melissa McCarthy can and enroll and become the Life Of The Party. That’s just what she did during the Thanos Avenger’s Infinity War box office onslaught of the summer of 2018. She managed to notch another little comedy hit under her belt as some solid counter programming during that stretch (Also hanging in there against another comedy, Overboard). Warner Bros is bringing the comedy, directed by her husband Ben Falcone, to Blu-ray (No 4K Ultra-HD Blu-ray for McCarthy yet) on August 7th. The release contains the usual suspects for a comedy film (Gag Reel, Line-O-Rama) as well as the DVD version and a digital copy as well. You can pre-order yourself a copy using the Amazon link below. 

Film 

When her husband suddenly dumps her, longtime and dedicated housewife Deanna turns regret into reset by going back to college. Unfortunately, Deanna winds up at the same school as her less-than-thrilled daughter. Plunging headlong into the campus experience, the outspoken new student soon begins a journey of self-discovery while fully embracing all of the fun, freedom and frat boys that she can handle.

Melissa McCarthy heads back to school here in a throwback comedy idea with a modern take and a gender swap. What comes about is something that has its fun bit of silliness and doesn’t focus on getting involved in just being dumb raunchiness or too much fish out of water jokes. In the end, its a nice bit of wholesome and fun character work and payoffs that make for an enjoyable 100 minutes.

This is another collaboration with McCarthy’s husband Ben Falcone in making a character based comedy. The two of them take what used to be a one-trick pony character and actually fully realize them and give them something real-world-like to challenge. McCarthy’s character in this is actually having to go through a divorce, helping her daughter through college and also finishing a personal goal of graduating herself. Its not just wacky like it would have been in the 1980s, it actually works and is given grounded details to make the idea more humorous.

She is surrounded by many talented up and coming and under used players in this one that were a joy to see do their thing. Maya Rudolph is one of the funniest people alive, yet doesn’t get near the airtime she deserves and plays as the perfect best friend for McCarthy. Gillian Jacobs whose shown her silly chops on Community (Among other things) gets to steal scenes here with her terrific character work. And I was especially excited to see SNL newbie Heidi Garnder show up as McCarthy’s creepy roommate. If anything, the film is worth watching alone just to watch the cast jaw at each other (There’s an hilarious dinner sequence where one character just gets completely railed on during it).

Life Of The Party is pretty all right as film. Its really a take or leave it affair. The movie isn’t bad at all, but I’m not sure there is anything big about it to sell people on returning to it. Much of the things in it have kind of been done before. That said, I did enjoy the film, I’m not down on it and McCarthy’s latest made for an entertaining evening for me. Staying power, I dunno, but I felt satisfied after seeing it even if I wasn’t completely taken on it or giving you an “Oh man, you gotta see this one!” kinda recommendation.

Video 

Encoding: MPEG-4 AVC

Resolution: 1080p

Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1

Layers: BD-50

Clarity/Detail: Life of the Party makes its debut with a rock solid image in the choice of doing a standard Blu-ray only instead of a 4K Ultra-HD Blu-ray. Its got sort of a bright and fuzzy look to it by nature, so its not the crispest or sharpest at times because of the lighting used. Details are quite strong and you can really make it out on the clothing textures and patterns given off from the clothing. Overall, for this comedy, this more than does the trick. I will say, this type of movie doesn’t demand a 4K release, but boy would it have been fun to see what that 80s party could have offered with a nice HDR boost.

Depth:  Dimensional work and spacing comes off above average here, but about on par without looking wowing or really 3 dimensional. Movements and camera swoops come in with good smoothness and confidence with no noticeable movement distortions.

Black Levels: Blacks are solid and dark, never masqueing too much detail, but providing great outlining and shading. No crushing witnessed at all during this viewing.

Color Reproduction: Colors are pretty strong without being overly done or too vivid. Look no further than the 1980s party sequence of the film to see the best of what this palette has to offer in terms of extremes and colors really being pronounced.

Flesh Tones: Skin tones are natural and maintain a consistency from start to finish of the film. Facial details prov pretty impressive, especially in the freckle department. Stubble, make-up, lip texture, wrinkles, moles and other features come in quite discernible and clear.

Noise/Artifacts: Clean.

Audio 

Audio Format(s): English 5.1 DTS-HD MA, English Descriptive Audio, French 5.1 Dolby Digital, Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital

Subtitles: English, French, Spanish

Dynamics: Life of the Party features a real solid 5.1 mix that isn’t going to win any awards or adoration, but it more than gets the trick done with a good balance of effects, vocals and scoring. Everything in it feels natural and always everpresent. This track more than does the trick for this kind of movie and really there should be no real qualms with it.

Height: N/A

Low Frequency Extension: Commotion, destruction and music beats really get the subwoofer to thump here in the mix as well as other natural sounds.

Surround Sound Presentation: This is a more front focused track, but the rears channels do get to have their fun and contributions during more rambunctious scenes like the parties. Movements are accurately tracked as well as the volume placement accurate to the screen.

Dialogue Reproduction: Vocals are clear and crisp with good audibility in any given arena of loudness (Party) or quiet space (The library).

Extras 

Life of the Party comes with the DVD edition and a digital copy of the film.

’80s Party (HD, 4:51) – Cast and crew gush over the 80s and talk about the party scene from the film. Melissa McCarthy actually found and dressed all the main characters for the scene.

Mom Sandwich (HD, 2:45) – Goes over Stephen Root and Jacki Weaver’s characters based on Melissa McCarthy’s own parents. Particularly focuese on the sandwich related discussion.

Deleted Scenes (HD, 46:36)

Line-O-Rama (HD, 3:02)

Bill Hate-O-Rama (HD, 2:44) – All focused on the dinner scene with the character Bill being berated.

Gag Reel (HD, 5:25)

Summary 

Life of the Party is a kinder, solid little comedy akin back to a much raunchier film like Back to School. Warner Bros brings it to Blu-ray with a rock solid performance in both audio and video. The extras are pretty much of the comedy film throw away variety, though I will say 46 minutes (Almost half a movie) of deleted scenes had me doing a bit of a double take. I’d say this one is more of a rental, but if you’re a McCarthy fan or collector, find that right low price or sail and snatch it up.

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Writer/Reviewer, lifelong obsessive film nerd. As eager to educate in the world of film as I am to learn. An avid lover of horror, schlock and trash, Brandon hosts the Cult Cinema Cavalcade podcast on the Creative Zombie Studios Network (www.cultcinemacavalcade.com) You can also find more essays on his blog Naptown Nerd (naptownnerd.blogspot.com).

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