Afterlife of the Party: Not great, but not the worst either
Afterlife of the Party is a romantic comedy/drama that was recently released on Netflix. The movie follows Cassie, played by Victoria Justice, as she finds herself tasked with making amends with three important people in her life after she dies unexpectedly the morning after her 25th birthday party.
As far as rom-coms go, Afterlife of the Party is just… fine. Some of the jokes are genuinely funny while others fall flat. Some of the movie’s attempts at heartfelt moments come across as cringey, but there are a surprising amount of genuinely moving and emotional scenes as well. Overall, this movie isn’t one of the better movies I’ve seen recently, but it’s also not one of the worst either. In most regards, Afterlife of the Party falls somewhere in between good and bad — much like how after her death Cassie finds herself stuck in the “In-Between” before she is sent either to the “Above” or the “Below” — but where this movie really does shine is in its depiction of female friendships.
Strong female friendships
I called this movie a romantic comedy because that’s the genre it’s tagged as on Netflix, and while there are some of the meet-cute and matchmaking elements of a classic rom-com, this movie is much more about an intense bond of platonic love between two women than it is about any romantic couple.
Within the movie’s opening scene we’re introduced to Cassie and her long-time childhood best friend Lisa (Midori Francis). The night they go out to celebrate Cassie’s birthday, the two friends argue about how neither of them seem to understand each other anymore with Cassie caring more about partying than spending time with Lisa and with Lisa not seeing value in Cassie’s more outgoing lifestyle. The fight ends with Lisa leaving the party early and returning to their shared apartment alone. When Cassie gets home later she knocks on Lisa’s bedroom door to apologize, but Lisa ignores her. The next morning, Cassie slips in the bathroom, hits her head on the toilet, and the next thing we know she wakes up in a room with her guardian angel Val (Robyn Scott) who tells Cassie that she is, in fact, dead.
The premise that follows is not something incredibly original. Basically, Cassie is stuck in the “In-Between” because she has unfinished business left on earth, and whether or not she can complete her unfinished business with all three people on her list will determine if she gets to spend the rest of her afterlife in the “Above” or the “Below.”
The three people Cassie has to make amends with are her dad, her mother Sofia, and Lisa. At first, no one living can see or hear Cassie, but after Cassie hums her and Lisa’s favorite song, Lisa is suddenly able to see her. This development is explained by Val as a rare phenomenon that only happens when the “In-Betweener” and the living person are intensely connected with each other as soul mates or kindred spirits.
After this revelation, Afterlife of the Party takes the idea of platonic soul mates and runs with it. Most of the movie focuses on Cassie healing her relationship with Lisa, both of them addressing their grief and guilt regarding their last moments together when Cassie was alive, and Cassie helping Lisa get over some of her anxiety and grow in terms of her career, her confidence, and her love-life. Even when the movie shifts its focus to Cassie’s relationship with her parents, Lisa is still there throughout most of it and she’s integral in helping Cassie make amends with both her mom and dad.
Afterlife of the Party is not a great movie, but it’s still fairly entertaining, and even if some of the heartfelt moments were cheesy, there were still plenty of scenes that genuinely had me on the verge of tears as well. It was also a pleasantly surprising exploration of the strong bond of friendship between two women, with two pretty well-developed female characters as the main stars. Especially with this movie being labeled as a romantic comedy, it would have been easy for the film to go perhaps the more traditional route of having Cassie make amends with a boyfriend or an ex in order to ensure her ascent to the “Above,” so I appreciate that Afterlife of the Party decided to change things up a bit and focus on a strong relationship between two women and the idea of platonic and familial love instead.