WHY WE CARE


Plugged In exists to shine a light on the world of popular entertainment while giving you and your family the essential tools you need to understand, navigate and impact the culture in which we live. Through reviews, articles and discussions, we want to spark intellectual thought, spiritual growth and a desire to follow the command of Colossians 2:8: "See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ."

YOUR STORIES


Family uses Plugged In as a ‘significant compass’

"I am at a loss for words to adequately express how much it means to my husband and me to know that there is an organization like Focus that is rooting for us. Just today I was reading Psalm 37 and thinking about how your ministry provides ways to 'dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture.' We have two teenagers and an 8-year-old in our household...Plugged In has become a significant compass for our family. All three of our kids are dedicated to their walk with Christ but they still encounter challenges. Thanks for all of your research and persistence in helping us navigate through stormy waters."

Plugged In helps college student stand-up for his belief

"Thanks for the great job you do in posting movie and television reviews online. I’m a college freshman and I recently had a confrontational disagreement with my English professor regarding an R-rated film. It is her favorite movie and she wanted to show it in class. I went to your Web site to research the film’s content. Although I had not seen the movie myself, I was able to make an educated argument against it based on the concerns you outlined. The prof said that she was impressed by my stand and decided to poll the whole class and give us a choice. We overwhelmingly voted to watch a G-rated movie instead! I’ve learned that I can trust your site and I will be using it a lot in the future.”

Plugged In brings ‘Sanity and Order’ to Non-believer

“Even though I don’t consider myself a Christian, I find your Plugged In Web site useful and thought-provoking. No one reviews movies like you do. Instead of being judgmental, you put entertainment ‘on trial.’ After presenting the evidence, you allow the jury of your readers to decide for themselves what they should do. In my opinion, you bring sanity and order to the wild world of modern day entertainment. Keep up the good work!”

Mom thinks Plugged In is the ‘BEST Christian media review site’

"Our family doesn't go to the movies until we go online and check out your assessment of a given film. I think this is the BEST Christian media review website that I've found, and I recommend it to my family and friends. Keep up the good work!"

SUPPORT THE WORK OF PLUGGED IN

Our hope is that whether you're a parent, youth leader or teen, the information and tools at Plugged In will help you and your family make appropriate media decisions. We are privileged to do the work we do, and are continually thankful for the generosity and support from you, our loyal readers, listeners and friends.

PLUGGED IN RATING

Watch This Review

We hope this review was both interesting and useful. Please share it with family and friends who would benefit from it as well.

Movie Review

Deanna is a good mom. And she loves her daughter, Maddie, to pieces. Maddie's in her senior year at Decatur University—the very college that Deanna and her husband, Dan, both attended, don't ya' know. It's just a short 22 miles away from home, but still, Deanna always misses that girl like crazy.

Like crazy, I tell ya'.

As Dan and Deanna drop Maddie off at school, the fortysomething mom can't help but gaze around the old campus and remember back some 20 years ago. She never did finish her degree because … well, you know how it can be. Young love. Marriage. A baby comes along. Choices have to be made sometimes. And for Deanna, being a mom to Maddie was much more important than a degree and a career.

Looking back, she can't help but admit that life is good.

That is, until it isn't.

Unbeknownst to Deanna, today is one of those days when life ain't gonna be so great. Right after dropping Maddie off at school, Dan announces he wants a divorce. He's fallen in love with another woman, a real estate agent named Marcie. Oh, and he's already put the house up for sale. It's all in his name, after all, and Marcie has started drawing up the papers.

How could he …? When did …? Who? What!?

Deanna is gobsmacked. She didn't see this coming in the least. In fact, she finds herself completely nonplussed as Dan announces that he and Marcie are heading off on the exotic vacation to Italy that he and Deanna were supposed to take.

After a day or two, it all sinks in. It's not that every aspect of this experience is terrible. I mean, once Deanna starts feeling again, she suddenly realizes that she's not as distraught about Dan's exit as she thought she would be. But … what now?

Deanna's left to tell Maddie the news, of course. What a terrible responsibility that is. While contemplating the pain of that task, mixed with the pain of suddenly being on her own and the pain of still missing her beloved daughter, though, something hits Deanna like a lightning bolt: What if … she went back to school?

She could go back to Decatur U., finish her degree and be able to see Maddie more often. It would be like embracing a new beginning. Hey, she'd be embracing freedom! Sure, Maddie will have to adjust to the idea, but she'll get there, right?

I mean, it's not as if Deanna is going to do anything stupid or embarrassing or reckless, right? After all, she's a good mom.

Right?

Positive Elements

Deanna isn't always a smart mom, but she certainly is a loving one. She repeatedly voices her deep affection for her daughter and shows similar care and concern for Maddie's sorority sisters. One of the young women, for instance, laments that she doesn't feel prepared for the world outside of college. Deanna tells her about some of the bad choices she's made in life and encourages her to continue working to make the best of her situation.

In fact, Deanna's gentle spirit and positive attitude quickly win the other sorority members over, too. They want to be around her, dubbing her Dee Rock. Eventually, Deanna's sincerity even impacts some college's "mean girls," who had initially bad-mouthed her. And all of them work to help Deanna when her financial support falls through.

When Maddie eventually confronts her mom about some of the poor choices she's made since returning to college, Deanna is wise and humble enough to admit her mistakes and to ask for forgiveness.

Spiritual Content

Deanna's roommate is a Goth who spends a lot of time in their shared bedroom … in the dark. She has a skull on her dresser and what looks to be a pentagram-like symbol on one wall.

Sexual Content

While drunk, Deanna casually hooks up with a young frat guy named Jack. Her daughter catches her walking out of his dorm room the next morning, and they have an uncomfortable discussion about Deanna's sexual activities the night before. Though Deanna seems to understand the negatives involved with having sex with this young guy, she and Jack nevertheless continue their physical relationship. We see him hanging shirtless out of his room after one such "sleepover," and it's implied that another impassioned tryst—this time in public between the "stacks" at the school library—involved oral sex.

It should also be noted that the film itself tends to praise Deanna's "sexually liberated" choices. Maddie and the other college girls take the news of her carefree sex life in stride. And Deanna's bestie, Christine, actually celebrates her friend's erotic escapades. Those choices "inspire" her to the point that she starts prompting her husband to have sex with her in public places.

Several sorority members talk about their breasts and Deanna's "mom boobs." During Deanna and Dan's divorce deliberations, discussions include snidely suggestive comments about Dan's (and another man's) anatomy "downstairs." A drunken guy wanders around shirtless. And it's implied that another frat member is walking around exposing himself with his robe open.

Women often wear formfitting outfits and tank tops, with bras sometimes visible beneath. Deanna squeezes one young woman's backside and comments about its fleshy firmness.

Violent Content

Deanna frequently finds herself entangled in predictably pounding pratfalls. In one of the bigger thumps, she drags all of Dan's possessions out into the backyard, soaks them in lighter fluid and sets them on fire. But the subsequent explosion throws her across the yard. She's also punched during a fight, painfully paddled during a sorority initiation and tumbles to the ground several times.

Elsewhere, two young women go at each other in a "cat fight" melee that has them slamming each other's heads into doors, windows and other hard surfaces. They claw at each other, wrestle around and throw punches as well.

Deanna's father shoots a gun he's waving around—barely missing a pet dog. Christine gets walloped in the crotch by a racquetball, and she crumples in pain. One of the sorority members is nicknamed "Coma Girl" since she was in a coma for eight years after a skydiving accident. A young woman head-butts a guy and knocks him to the ground. A man has an earring ripped out of his ear.

Crude or Profane Language

A couple of s-words are joined by two uses of "h---" and five or six uses each of "a--" and "b--ch." God's name is misused nearly 20 times.

Drug and Alcohol Content

Teens, twentysomethings and older adults regularly drink beer, wine, champagne and shots of tequila at frat parties and dinners, sometimes getting visibly drunk in the process. In fact, Deanna, Maddie and a couple other sorority girls go out to several frat parties and imbibe with abandon—with the young women insisting that Deanna needs to get hammered. At one such soiree, Deanna and several girls accidentally eat handfuls of chocolate-covered "weed bark." They get so stoned that they all begin hallucinating and subsequently end up trashing a wedding reception.

Deanna and Christine guzzle booze while playing racquetball. When Maddie pulls Deanna into a bathroom, Deanna worries aloud, "Please tell me you're not doing the cocaine."

Other Negative Elements

Some college mean girls bully Deanna and others. In turn, one of Maddie's sorority sisters cuts off a large lock of one bully's hair. We hear a story that involves the subject of urination.

Conclusion

The simple fact is, Melissa McCarthy understands—either by instinct or practice—how physical comedy works. She knows exactly how to time a punchline and tumble into a perfect pratfall. She can also expertly fumble and bumble out a likeable character who's awkwardly insecure and enthusiastically feisty in equal measure.

This time around, McCarthy weaves all that comedic pizazz into an endearing mom named Deanna, someone you can't help but root for right out of the gate. And she's surrounded by an assemblage of amiable actresses who reflect back similarly quirky and appealing character traits.

So this film ought to be a home run, especially in light of the reach-for-your-dreams encouragement and family-focused mom-daughter bonding that's stirred into its wackadoodle mix. And in some ways, it is that kind of outta-the-park cinematic homer. Life of the Party is a sweet, smile-worthy pic … about 70% of the time. The rest, though, can feel kinda nasty.

Scripted by McCarthy and her director husband, Ben Falcone, the film opts for an unfortunate governing worldview. It declares that Deanna can only get her true comeuppance on a cheating dirtbag of a husband if she makes just as many randy, misguided choices as he does.

Deanna quickly tumbles into bed (and public sex acts) with a college hunk who could be her son, for instance. And she repeatedly gets drunk and stoned at frat parties, too. These reckless choices fly in the face of the grounded adult she's supposed to be. And that's especially troubling since her daughter is, most of the time, standing right there watching her make each foolish choice.

Sure, those kind of sew-your-wild-oats, moms-can-be-raunchy-too antics make for several walk-of-shame script giggles. But they also negatively impact the fun here, taking something sweet and turning it slightly sour. And that will surely sour scores of potential family viewers on this pic.

Pro-social Content

Objectionable Content

Summary Advisory

Plot Summary

Christian Beliefs

Other Belief Systems

Authority Roles

Profanity/Violence

Kissing/Sex/Homosexuality

Discussion Topics

Additional Comments/Notes

Episode Reviews

Credits

Rating

Readability Age Range

Genre

Comedy

Author

Cast

Melissa McCarthy as Deanna; Molly Gordon as Maddie; Matt Walsh as Dan; Gillian Jacobs as Helen; Julie Bowen as Marcie; Maya Rudolph as Christine; Debby Ryan as Jennifer; Luke Benward as Jack

Director

Ben Falcone ( )

Distributor

Warner Bros.

Network

Performance

Record Label

Platform

Publisher

In Theaters

May 11, 2018

On Video

August 7, 2018

Year Published

Awards

Reviewer

Bob Hoose

Content Caution

Kids
Teens
Adults
We hope this review was both interesting and useful. Please share it with family and friends who would benefit from it as well.

Get weekly e-news, Culture Clips & more!