OPELIKA, Ala. – Actress Melissa McCarthy and her husband Ben Falcone have put down roots in Atlanta.
“We’re officially Atlanta residents now. Like, literally,” McCarthy told the The Atlanta Journal-Constitution last week during the red-carpet premiere for “Life of the Party,” the couple’s newest locally filmed joint project.
Directed by Falcone (who plays a bit part as is often the case with movies starring his wife) it filmed at Agnes Scott College, Clayton State University and Callanwolde Fine Arts Center, with a particularly hilarious scene shot at The Optimist restaurant on Howell Mill Road.
“I love it so much we’re going to keep a place there,” McCarthy said. “I’m a big sucker for the South. I love how kind and chatty people are. I love L.A., but when you stand in line in Atlanta, or in Chicago, where I’m from, you talk to people. There’s just something about the South that you can’t replace. It’s friendly.”
“Life of the Party,” in which she stars a newly and cruelly divorced mom who goes back to college to finish her degree, is in wide release on Friday. Filmed here and set at fictitious “Decatur University,” the world premiere was next door in Alabama, thanks to Auburn University’s social media muscle. Warner Bros. Pictures and New Line Cinema invited campuses nationwide to digitally compete for the red-carpet extravaganza, and Auburn managed to out-post all other contenders.
McCarthy and Falcon, and cast members Gillian Jacobs, Molly Gordon, Adria Arjona, Jessie Ennis, Luke Benward, Julie Bowen, Matt Walsh, Stephen Root, Debby Ryan, Yani Simone and Jimmy O. Yang strolled the red carpet during the April 30 event after members of the Tuskegee University marching band kicked things off in style.
Joining the fun was our old buddy, Huddy.
“What a great moment for Auburn,” said former Atlanta Braves player Tim Hudson, an Auburn standout during his college baseball career. “I’m definitely out of my element, but we’re here to support the movie and all the actors and actresses. It’s going to be a lot of fun.”
McCarthy and Falcone had lots of love for the crowd, shouting “War Eagle!” (and wishing everyone well on their final exams) as they greeted the packed auditorium at the AMC Classic Tiger 13 cinema, where fans lined up for hours ahead of time.
She previously filmed “The Boss” (also directed by Falcone) and “Identity Thief” (in which he had a bit part) here, while her husband has appeared in locally shot “Office Christmas Party” and “What to Expect When You’re Expecting.”
“We’ve been there many times,” Falcone told us. “It’s a great place to be. I love the food. There’s plenty to do and it’s a great landscape.”
Coming out right in time for Mother’s Day, “Life of the Party” opens as Deanna (McCarthy) and her husband Dan (Walsh) are dropping off daughter Maddie (Gordon) at college as a new school year begins. They’re still in the driveway of Maddie’s sorority house when Dan announces he wants a divorce and takes his arch inamorata Marcie (Bowen) on the Italian vacation Maddie’s been dreaming of.
Distraught Deanna does what any middle-aged mom with a thing for bedazzled tracksuits would do in this situation, promptly enrolling at her daughter’s college, moving in with a weirdo goth roommate (Heidi Gardner) and downing tequila shots with the girls. Oh, and did someone say ’80s night?
OkayOK, so it’s not a documentary, but it’s a lot of fun, and McCarthy left her young costars with the the kind of advice a mom would want them to follow.
“I learned to be really, really be kind to everybody,” said Ennis, who plays one of Maddie’s sorority sisters. “She thanks everyone. She’s walking around shaking hands with the camera guys, the lighting guys. Without a doubt, she is the most gracious person I’ve ever worked with. She’s an incredible leader.”