Afterlife of the Party (2021)

Afterlife of the Party
Director: Stephen Herek
Writer: Carrie Freedle
Cast: Victoria Justice, Midori Francis, Robyn Scott, Adam Garcia, Timothy Renouf, Gloria Garcia
Seen on: 24.3.2022

Cassie (Victoria Justice) loves to party and to not take things seriously. This puts her at odds with her best friend since forever, Lisa (Midori Francis) who maybe takes things too seriously. On the occasion of Cassie’s birthday, they go out together with some of Cassie’s friends. When Lisa wants to head home, Cassie is upset and the two of them fight. The thing is: this is Cassie’s last night on Earth. Next thing she knows, it’s a year later and Cassie has to fix things with the most important people in her life – Lisa, her father (Adam Garcia) and her mother (Gloria Garcia) or she will have to spend her afterlife in hell instead of heaven. Fixing things is easier said than done, though.

Afterlife of the Party is okay. It’s not exactly great cinema but it is fun enough. I was a little disappointed, though, how the film interpreted “fixing things” with Lisa.

The film poster showing Cassie (Victoria Justice) in a sparkling dress raising a martini glass. Behind her are neon wings and a halo.

Afterlife of the party is not a film you should overthink. Much like its protagonist, its mostly out to have a good time and while there are some depths to be found, they usually get lost in the jokes and the glittery outfits. Mostly this works just fine – the film even hits a couple of honest emotional moments when it comes to Cassie’s parents. (Unfortunately, the film only hints at Cassie’s latinx roots, which is a pity.)

But I was a little taken aback by how the film handles Cassie and Lisa. And this is the relationship that gets the most time and attention. For the most part, Cassie is busy fixing Lisa’s life and not her relationship with her (parts of that are also present in her relationship with her father, but not quite as front and center). There the film squanders the chance to really focus on the friendship between the two, on the difficulties of being (literally) life-long friends and not always changing in the same ways. Instead Cassie makes sure that Lisa goes for her dream job and her dream guy (in an admittedly pretty cute romance). Those are not only distractions from the heart of the story (their friendship) but also show a rather weird view of friendship in general. It’s not my part as a friend to run my friends’ lives for them (though a gentle push once and again is not the worst thing you can do).

Cassie (Victoria Justice) partying hard.

Apart from that, though, the film is enjoyable enough. Cassie is a little hyper (hats off to Justice for keeping up that energy level constantly) and that may be a little much, but Francis’ calmer Lisa more than makes up for that (would I have minded watching a romance with Lisa and her guy, and without all that Cassie part? Not in the slightest). The highlight for me, though, was Robyn Scott as Val the angel/afterlife coordinator. The role could have easily felt trite, but she absolutely makes it.

Will this be a film to enter anybody’s best of the year list? Probably not. But for an evening of entertainment, it works for the most part.

Cassie (Victoria Justice) and Lisa (Midori Francis) hugging on the couch.

Summarizing: sweet and inconsequential.

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