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Last updateTue, 18 Sep 2018 1pm

Welcome to fall and (slightly) cooler weather … and enjoy these hot October events!

The McCallum Theatre is open for the season and is ready for a fantastic 2018-2019 schedule. At 8 p.m., Tuesday, Oct. 2, the “Queen of Ranchera Music,” Aida Cuevas, will be performing a tribute to her mentor, Juan Gabriel. Tickets are $28 to $88. At noon, Sunday, Oct. 21, the McCallum will be hosting its Seventh Annual Family Fun Day, and the show for this year is Erth’s Prehistoric Aquarium Adventure. The show is meant to provide the experience of exploring the ocean depths—with prehistoric reptiles—via puppets, science and imagination! Yay! Tickets are $10 to $30. Now, for something a little edgier … at 8 p.m., Saturday, Oct. 27, a group of Canadian musicians will perform Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon in its entirety as part of Classic Albums Live. However, this show will not feature lasers, costumes or anything hokey like that—just the music. Tickets are $28 to $58. McCallum Theatre, 73000 Fred Waring Drive, Palm Desert; 760-340-2787; www.mccallumtheatre.com.

Fantasy Springs Resort Casino has a great list of October events. At 8 p.m., Friday, Oct. 19, guitarist and singer/songwriter Boz Scaggs will be performing. Scaggs has written numerous great tunes since he started rocking in the ’70s, and he’s racked up a bunch of smash singles and a Grammy Award; he’s still wildly popular today. Tickets are $49 to $69. If that wasn’t enough, one of the most popular artists of the new millennium, Christina Aguilera, will be performing at 8 p.m., Wednesday, Oct. 24. She released a highly anticipated new album back in June titled Liberation—it was her eighth album overall, but her first in six years. It received rave reviews and solidified the comeback trail on which she finds herself. Tickets are $89 to $199. Remember back in the ’90s when Lord of the Dance was a thing? With that Michael Flatley guy? Well, Michael Flatley’s Lord of the Dance: Dangerous Games will be stopping by at 8 p.m., Friday, Oct. 26. What is it? Well, it’s a more-modern take on Lord of the Dance, with special-effects lighting, dancing robots and acrobats. OK then! Tickets are $29 to $59. Fantasy Springs Resort Casino, 84245 Indio Springs Parkway, Indio; 760-342-5000; www.fantasyspringsresort.com.

Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa has a couple of huge shows coming in October. At 8 p.m., Friday, Oct. 12, in a fabulous “WTF? Huh?!” kind of musical collaboration that has turned out to be a big hit, Sting and Shaggy will be performing. It’s sort of a clash of “Every Breath You Take” and “Boombastic.” Since their collaborative album dropped earlier this year, it’s been the talk of music critics. Tickets are $135 to $185. At 8 p.m., Saturday, Oct. 27, country-music star Toby Keith will take the stage. He sings songs about driving a Ford pickup truck while he drinks his cold ones out of red Solo cups, and will sing “Courtesy of the Red, White and Blue” … but you already know that, as he’s a huge star. Shortly after Donald Trump was elected, Keith accompanied our president to Saudi Arabia, where he played his brand of country for a room full of Saudi royalty … men only allowed. Hmm. Tickets are $165 to $195. Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa, 32250 Bob Hope Drive, Rancho Mirage; 888-999-1995; www.hotwatercasino.com.

Spotlight 29, as usual, is offering an intriguing blend of rock and Latin music events. At 8 p.m., Saturday, Oct. 6, Julian Torres will be performing his Juan Gabriel tribute show Amor Eterno. Tickets are $20. At 8 p.m., Saturday, Oct. 20, Latin-music group Banda El Recodo will take the stage. If you’re not familiar with the group, think of the Preservation Hall Jazz Band in New Orleans, and the legacy it has preserved over the years regarding jazz music … and that’s what Banda El Recodo is to Latin music. It has been going since 1938 after being formed by the Lizarraga Family, and two of the Lizarragas perform in the group today. The group has won an amazing nine Grammy Awards. Tickets are $40 to 50. At 8 p.m., Friday, Oct. 26, iconic rock band REO Speedwagon (upper right) will be performing. The group has 13 Top 40 hits, including “Keep on Loving You,” “Can’t Fight This Feeling” and “Take It on the Run.” Tickets are $75 to $85. Spotlight 29 Casino, 46200 Harrison Place, Coachella; 760-775-5566; www.spotlight29.com.

Morongo Casino has one event by a popular performer you might want to consider, but hurry: Tickets were nearly sold out as of our press deadline. At 9 p.m., Friday, Oct. 26, psychic-medium and reality-television star Tyler Henry will be performing. Henry is notable for one event: In a rather morbid and messed-up way, he predicted the death of Alan Thicke. Tickets are $65. Morongo Casino Resort Spa, 49500 Seminole Drive, Cabazon; 800-252-4499; www.morongocasinoresort.com.

Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace is a fantastic place to be in October. At 8 p.m., Thursday, Oct. 4, indie-folk artist Conor Oberst and the Mystic Valley Band will be performing. Oberst—known for his other bands including Bright Eyes, The Faint, Commander Venus, Desaparecidos, etc., etc.—was pretty popular in the early ’00s and is still quite influential. He’s no stranger to Pappy and Harriet’s, and his shows there usually sell out, but this one still had tickets left as of our deadline. Tickets are $31. At 8 p.m., Friday, Oct. 26, the hilarious country-music group The Evangenitals will be performing. Why do I always mention it when this group plays at Pappy’s? Because the band is fantastic and one a hell of a good time. Seriously! Stay through ’til the end when the show gets very raunchy, and be sure to scream that you want to hear “The Vagina Song.” Best part about it: Admission is free! At 9 p.m., Saturday, Oct. 27, the Queen of the High Desert, Jesika von Rabbit, will return to Pappy’s. Jesika recently dropped her new album, Dessert Rock (Ha ha! Get it?), and it is fantastic! Tickets are $15 to $20. Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace, 53688 Pioneertown Road, Pioneertown; 760-365-5956; www.pappyandharriets.com.

The Purple Room Palm Springs has a fun October lineup. At 6 p.m.., Friday, Oct. 5, and Saturday, Oct. 6, the fabulous Marilyn Maye will be performing. She’s a well-known American jazz singer, cabaret singer and musical-theater performer. At 90 years old, she’s still going. In this intimate setting, these will be great shows. Tickets are $70 to $90. At 6 p.m., Saturday, Oct. 20, jazz-singer Jonathan Karrant will be celebrating an album-release show. The former Metropolitan Opera House singer has earned raves by singing jazz in a unique way for audiences in smaller rooms. Tickets are $25 to $35. Michael Holmes’ Purple Room, 1900 E. Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs; 760-322-4422; www.purpleroompalmsprings.com.

The Date Shed has one fine October event. At 8 p.m., Saturday, Oct. 20, reggae singer HIRIE (below) will be performing. The San Diego native has an album streaming called Wandering Soul, and it sounds pretty fascinating. This should be a good show. Tickets are $15. The Date Shed, 50725 Monroe St., Indio; 760-775-6699; www.facebook.com/dateshed.

Published in Previews

The great Melissa McCarthy suffers from the Ben Falcone curse yet again in Life of the Party, a shitty Back to School rip-off—which makes it double-shitty, because Back to School sucked.

Falcone is McCarthy’s husband, and he has now directed her in three movies, all bad. Tammy was one of McCarthy’s worst films, while The Boss was better but still pretty terrible.

McCarthy plays Deanna, a frumpy middle-aged mom with a daughter, Maddie (Molly Gordon), going into her last year in college. Within minutes of dropping their daughter off at school, her husband (Matt Walsh) dumps her for a real estate agent played by an actress from Modern Family (Julie Bowen).

A dejected Deanna decides to enroll in school—a shockingly easy process in this film—and finds herself not only attending college alongside her daughter, but hanging out with her and her sorority sisters. She’s considered a square at first, but a quick makeover during a party has her emerge as the coolest new girl on campus.

Before long, she’s pulling all-nighters in frat houses with her new boyfriend (Luke Benward) in one of the film’s few likable aspects. (McCarthy and Benward are somewhat funny together.) She’s also break-dancing at ’80s themed parties, and desecrating the wedding cake at her ex-husband’s wedding. Basically, it’s a film full of comic setups that feel torturously familiar and ripped off. I’m surprised McCarthy didn’t bust out a vocal rendition of “Twist and Shout” à la Rodney Dangerfield at the ’80s party.

The movie is populated with characters played by stellar actresses who could’ve used some more screen time. Gillian Jacobs plays Helen, a genuinely funny character in concept: She’s an adult college student in school after spending eight years in a coma. Her story probably would’ve made for a more interesting movie, but the screenplay buries her deep in the background. The same goes for Heidi Gardner, one of the bright spots on this season of Saturday Night Live, as Leonor, Deanna’s goth roommate who never leaves their room and likes to hide in their closet. She’s funny, and rather than use her more, she’s saved for a dopey punch-line involving Christina Aguilera.

I’m always amazed when a film with McCarthy in it is awful, because she’s so damned good. Movies like Life of the Party make me mad at the movie, and not the star at its center. She does what she can with lousy material, and even manages to squeak out two or three genuine laughs. But her material here is her enemy.

The film starves for that moment when McCarthy transcends the material and lets loose in the way that only she can. It’s PG-13, so her penchant for profanity-laced dialogue art is mostly stifled, although she gets in a couple of good ones involving Google and her vagina.

Instead, we get scenes like Deanna getting nervous and sweaty during a midterm speech, and her trying to get laughs out of pit stains. There’s also an agonizing dance-off between her and one of the school’s mean girls, culminating in a stunt woman busting out those aforementioned break-dance moves. It’s beneath McCarthy’s talents in every way.

I’m thrilled that McCarthy and Falcone are happily married and working together—something tough to pull off in nasty Hollywood—but the fruits of their union are not magical in the cinematic sense. They should put the “making movies together” part of their relationship on ice. It’s just not working out.

Life of the Party is playing at theaters across the valley.

Published in Reviews