Heaven can watch for Victoria Justice in “Afterlife of the Party,” a shrill and spinoff Netflix comedy.
The previous Nickelodeon star brings all of the incessant perkiness of her sit-com roots to the function of Cassie, a surprising and self-centered occasion woman who dies in a freak accident the morning after her 25th birthday extravaganza. As a substitute for going to heaven or hell, she finds herself in The In-Between, a tastefully adorned purgatory. However whereas the movie from journeyman director Stephen Herek (“Invoice & Ted’s Wonderful Journey,” “Mr. Holland’s Opus,” “Rock Star”) and author Carrie Freedle strives for each wild, bodily humor and heart-tugging poignancy, it achieves neither, occupying an uncomfortable center floor of its personal.
Justice’s Cassie is tremendous high-energy from the beginning within the type of trying-on-clothes montage that solely exists within the motion pictures. Dancing around the lounge in a pink tulle skirt and rhinestone choker, she declares to her roommate and lifelong greatest buddy, Lisa (Midori Francis), “I’ve to ring in 25 with the model!” However one will get the sense that vapid Cassie has rung within the earlier years with such model, as properly, and the comparative quiet of the introverted Lisa makes you surprise how they’ve stayed so shut for thus lengthy. “I’m actually centered on work proper now and I can’t have any distractions,” the younger archaeologist insists, explaining that she’s learning dinosaur marsupial tooth, an element that’s too difficult for the flighty Cassie to understand.
A blow-up throughout their large nighttime out exposes the rift between the besties, as Cassie downs pictures on prime of the bar and Lisa feels omitted. “You realize that these individuals are horrible, proper?” Lisa says of Cassie’s new associates. “You’re totally different while you’re with them.” She’s received a degree—and Francis’ authenticity and soulfulness make you would like she had been on the middle of the movie as a substitute or on the sidelines.
Nonetheless, Cassie shall be compelled into introspection when she wakes up a yr later to her wisecracking guardian angel, Val (a dryly amusing Robyn Scott), informing her that she’s lifeless, and he or she solely has a handful of days to proper her wrongs on Earth with a view to safe a spot in The Above. Particularly, she should make amends together with her estranged, yoga-instructor father (Adam Garcia) and the mom who took off to discover the world when she was a toddler (Gloria Garcia). And naturally, she should repair her friendship with Lisa, which incorporates serving to her hook up with their cute and equally shy next-door neighbor (Timothy Renouf, in charmingly flummoxed Hugh Grant mode). Cassie’s favorite part of this course is her skill to select no matter what she needs to put on every day, and though the visible results listed here are a tad tacky, it’s a testimony to her eventual evolution that she goes from initially selecting a silver micro-mini costume that appears like a disco ball to tender, pastel florals that recommend she’s gained some substance.
The notion of getting a second likelihood to say what’s in your coronary heart to those that imply probably the most is timeless and irresistible as cinematic fodder, from “It’s a Fantastic Life” to “Heaven Can Wait” (and the Chris Rock remake “All the way down to Earth”) to “Ghost” to TV’s “The Good Place.” It’s fairly dependable territory that “Afterlife of the Party” is treading, and but it nonetheless fails to resonate emotionally. The moments of reality Cassie shares with the family members on her listing are superficial and rushed—particularly the one together with her mom, towards whom she’s held the deepest grudge. It’s stuffed with awkward smiles and jumpy pacing as if everyone seems to be in a rush to wrap up and go house. The eventual reconciliation between her divorced dad and mom equally feels perfunctory and lacks the punch it seeks.
In the meantime, the essential function of a bland pop star named Koop (singer-songwriter Spencer Sutherland) is particularly compelled and highlights the shiny nature of the whole endeavor. Justice could have a hanging display presence, however, she will be able to solely do a lot with materials that are lower than heavenly.
On Netflix at this time.