OFFICE CHRISTMAS PARTY:
IT HAS SOME LAUGHS AND TALENT, UNFORTUNATELY NOT ENOUGH TO MAKE IT A RAUNCHY CHRISTMAS CLASSIC!
By Nico Beland
Movie Review: ** out of 4
PARAMOUNT PICTURES AND DREAMWORKS PICTURES
Kate McKinnon, Jason Bateman, T.J. Miller, and Olivia Munn in Office Christmas Party
Tis the season for some laughs, unfortunately you’re not getting many here, Office Christmas Party, the latest holiday raunch-fest attempting to follow in the footsteps of Bad Santa, A Very Harold & Kumar Christmas, and The Night Before, but it can’t quite pull it off. The film is surprisingly very lacking in humor coming from a lot of funny people behind it, how do you get Jason Bateman (Arrested Development, Juno, Horrible Bosses), Jennifer Aniston (Friends, The Iron Giant, Horrible Bosses), and T.J. Miller (Silicon Valley, Transformers: Age of Extinction, Deadpool) together in a comedy under the direction of Will Speck and Josh Gordon (Blades of Glory, The Switch) and not make it hilarious?
In place of where great jokes and comedic writing should go, we get a tiring, clichéd story in an office building at Christmas, a mean boss, cancelling Christmas bonuses (which is the most desperate plot device in a Christmas special or movie), and a party we’ve seen a million times before. It’s like watching a Horrible Bosses or Office Space Christmas movie plus a Project X style party and minus the best jokes.
The film follows Zenotek CEO, Carol Vanstone (Aniston) trying to close down the company branch of her hard-partying brother, Clay (Miller) and terminating the employees’ Christmas bonuses. In hopes of saving everyone’s jobs, Clay and his Chief Technical Officer, Josh Parker (Bateman) rallies up the co-workers and throw an awesome office Christmas party to impress a potential client and close a sale.
What follows is everything you would expect, drinking, drugs, sex, vandalism, conflicts involving prostitutes and pimps, just another day at the office.
The film also stars Olivia Munn (Attack of the Show, Iron Man 2, X-Men: Apocalypse) as Tracey Hughes, Jillian Bell (Workaholics, The Master, 22 Jump Street) as Trina, Vanessa Bayer (Saturday Night Live, Portlandia, Trainwreck) as Allison, Courtney B. Vance (Law & Order: Criminal Intent, Final Destination 5, Terminator: Genisys) as Walter, Rob Corddry (Blades of Glory, Hot Tub Time Machine, Warm Bodies) as Jeremy, Sam Richardson (Veep, Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising, Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates) as Joel, Randall Park (The Interview, Southpaw, The Night Before) as Fred, Kate McKinnon (Saturday Night Live, Sisters, Ghostbusters (2016)) as Mary Winetoss, Jamie Chung (The Hangover II and III, Premium Rush, Sin City: A Dame to Kill For) as Meghan, Abbey Lee Kershaw (Mad Max: Fury Road, Gods of Egypt, The Neon Demon) as Savannah, Karan Soni (Safety Not Guaranteed, Deadpool, Ghostbusters (2016)) as Nate, Matt Walsh (Bad Santa, Starsky & Hutch, Ted) as Ezra, Oliver Cooper (Project X, The Hangover: Part III, Runner Runner) as Drew, Adrian Martinez (Kick-Ass, The Amazing Spider-Man 2, Sisters) as Larry, Andrew Leeds (NCIS: Los Angeles, It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, Entourage) as Tim, Da’Vine Joy Randolph (The Good Wife) as Carla, Fortune Feimster (Workaholics, Glee, The Mindy Project) as Lonny, and basketball superstar, Jimmy Butler as himself.
Overall, Office Christmas Party has comedic potential but it fails to live up to it and comes off as a tired mishmash of Christmas comedy clichés and table scraps of the humor of much better holiday comedies. It isn’t all bad, the best aspect of the film is the chemistry between Bateman, Aniston, and Miller, it’s a solid trio and they lead to decent comedy.
They don’t save the movie though; the film still has all these unfunny and clichéd gags all compiled together, forgettable side characters, and the ending of the movie drags. Just when you think it’s going to get wrapped up, it continues going with confusing plot elements that don’t add up.
My advice, rent the movie, and watch only the scenes involving Jennifer Aniston, Jason Bateman, and T.J. Miller and skip everything else. Not to mention if you want a better holiday comedy to watch this Christmas, try Bad Santa, A Very Harold & Kumar Christmas, or The Night Before, I can guarantee you’ll laugh harder at those films than this one.