Netflix’s Afterlife of the Party is surprisingly emotional, proving that whatever you think staring at its poster, it will be the polar opposite. I’m not entirely sure what I expected walking into the film, but I most certainly was not expecting to cry more than once.
Afterlife of the Party starring Victoria Justice, Midori Francis, Robin Scott, Adam Garcia, and more follows party animal Cassie (Justice) in her attempt to make matters right before ascending to a higher position in the afterlife. So yes, spoiler alert, if it was not obvious by the title, she dies early on in the film.
The film isn’t extraordinary by any means, it had ample potential to be, but at times it feels extremely young adult, which is not necessarily a bad thing, it’s just not my personal cup of tea. But at its core, Afterlife of the Party succeeds in what it gets right, which is centering the film around female friendships and bringing to the screen the impact of steadfast loyalty.
Cassie and Lisa (Francis) have such an interesting dynamic as polar opposites, which stands as a showcase of the detail that sometimes, those are the best kind of friendships. They are the ones who do the best job of challenging each other, and through everything, they are each other’s soulmates at the end of it all. The film succeeds in structuring the plot around their friendship as much as, if not more than, around Cassie’s parents because it chooses to play on the found family trope this way.
Cassie and Lisa are each other’s family, and later, both families grow through the amends that Cassie starts to make in order to go to the good place. Afterlife of the Party has clearly drawn some inspiration from NBC’s The Good Place and while we cannot compare the two, I’m most certainly not complaining about the film’s chosen message. It is, pun intended, one of the good ones.
The idea of forgiveness, belief, and ultimately never going to bed angry are messages that we as the human race could never get enough of. It’s something we could always use reminders for, and the film does just that.
Cassie’s growth throughout the trajectory of the film is directly linked to her relationships, and the decision to be selfless in order to see the best of what Lisa deserves was a beautiful start. Cassie is the one who pushes Lisa to follow her dreams, and she’s the one who pushes her to give love a chance. Where Lisa can’t see her full potential, Cassie believes in her best friend with everything in her, and it’s what makes their story the most gorgeous one.
The greatest love story throughout the course of the film is that between two best friends, and we don’t get nearly enough stories like this. (In the final To All the Boys I’ve Loved: Always and Forever, Lara Jean touches on this idea with great detail as well.)
That said, in making matters right, Cassie’s best friend and father are her top priorities, but the surprising desire to forgive her mother beautifully touches on why human beings are so desperate to understand the truth behind everything. It makes for some of the most emotional moments throughout the film because it’s just the kind of wholesome content you would expect the story to touch on.
Throughout the course of the film, grief is portrayed so well, it might just be the detail that is most surprising. I expected it to be glossed over, and I expected it to be sugar-coated, but instead, it’s raw and harrowing. Adam Garcia is especially fantastic in how he touches on Howie’s complete emptiness after losing his daughter.
There’s a sense of serenity the final few moments of Afterlife of the Party touches on, and while overtly cheesy at times, it’s a stunning moment that reflects on grief poignantly. This is not a story you’ll regret watching unfold. And the chances are, if you’re a sap, you’re likely to have a good cry because of it. At best, Robyn Scott is a gem to watch as Cassie’s afterlife handler Val.
Carrie Freedle’s method of storytelling touches on warmth and distinct relationships making Afterlife of the Party a film that succeeds in getting a notable message across. When the film was initially pitched to producers Robyn Snyder and Deborah Evans, it was described as Clueless meets The Good Place, which is entirely accurate, but I’d also throw in a little bit of 13 Going On 30 into the mix as well. The point is, it’s a solid, delightful watch.
Afterlife of the Party is now streaming on Netflix.