Office Christmas Party (Review)
By: Justin Jasso (@jjasso007)
Ah, the holidays. For some, it’s the best time of the year. For others, it’s the most stressful. There are Christmas songs to sing, cookies to eat, gifts to wrap, and family to spend time with. There’s also the oh-so-fun holiday parties. As many of you have been a part of, there are also holiday parties put on by your places of work, and those are cute, too. But would you REALLY consider them a party? Do decorations and a potluck really define the word party? No, not so much. Those are travesties to the party world. And, after you see the latest film from Josh Gordon and Will Speck, you may have to rethink what it means to have an office party. Ladies and gentlemen, here just in time for the holiday season, is Office Christmas Party.
CEO of his Xenotech branch, Clay (T.J. Miller) took over his father’s branch of the company when he died. But the growth of the branch hasn’t been quite as one in a successful, money-making business would hope. And, just to add some icing onto this failing business branch gingerbread house, Clay’s sister, Carol (Jennifer Aniston) isn’t happy and wants him to make some cuts in order to adjust the revenue, or else she’ll have to shut his branch down. Chief Technical Officer Josh (Jason Bateman) knows the one way to save the company: earn the $15 million dollar contract from potential client, Walter (Courtney B. Vance). In order to do that, they’ll need to impress him with their building and culture, and what better way to show they are trendy, lively, and keeping it 100 than with the biggest, baddest office Christmas party ever! With so many different personalities, alcohol, drugs, hookers, people dressed up as Jesus, and reindeer, what could go wrong?
Office Christmas Party is exactly what you think it will be: a crude, vulgar, salacious (love that word), and enjoyable venture into debauchery with some moments of wisdom and life intertwined. The film isn’t going to break any new film boundaries with its story, it’s not going to up the game of comedy films, or earn any rave reviews from its cinematography. But what it will do is make you laugh, make you want to dance, and make you wish you had an awesome boss and holiday parties like this. The story is very straightforward – little thinking is needed – and doesn’t move much outside of the office until later in the film. But the characters are what drive the film forward, and they are all different in their own right, adding much needed flavor. It’s like eating some amazing soup where you can taste all of the individual ingredients at different levels, leaving you with a pleasant mouthgasm after every bite. Yet, when you’re finished with the bowl, no matter how much you enjoyed it, you feel there’s just something missing. Office Christmas Party is nice on individual moment levels, but, as a whole, it just misses on most of the things we really want. It almost plays it safe to a degree, and doesn’t take it across that line that it sets itself up for over and over again to be more epic, unlike films such as The Hangover 3, Horrible Bosses 2 and This is 40.
Speaking of the characters, this is really an ensemble type of film, with everyone adding their own touch. Yet, the main characters are definitely Jason Bateman, T.J. Miller, Olivia Munn, and a few other people. I usually give a deeper analysis of the characters, but that would take forever here, so I’ll just give a snapshot. Bateman fits right into the role, as it’s a role he’s played numerous times like in Horrible Bosses. Jennifer Aniston is similar as well, playing a more bitchy, take-no-prisoners, Krav Maga black belt-type boss opposed to her nymphomaniac role in the aforementioned Horrible Bosses (which was hilarious!). T.J. Miller is the boss who is probably not cut out to be a boss, but he has a good heart and wants the best for his employees – a role that doesn’t require much effort from him. Olivia Munn is probably the brains of the operation, outside of Bateman, as she’s a computer hacker who has big ideas for the company, swinging for the fences with her projects. It’s a different role for Munn, and she plays it well enough. Other notable performances are from Kate McKinnon in HR, who plays by the rules to the very letter and syllable, and is straight-edged, but very funny, especially as the film goes along; and Rob Corddry, one of the customer service managers who you would probably not want giving you ANY sort of customer service. Oh, and I must give a huge shout out to Fortune Feimster, who plays Lonny, the Uber driver, in the film. She absolutely steals her entire time on screen! SO FUNNY! She reminded me of Melissa McCarthy in Bridesmaids, and we know what that did for her career. And the outtakes after the film is over have more of her, which are well worth the wait. She may be the next big thing, seriously!
Office Christmas Party is the type of party you wish your job would throw at the end of the year. The one where you find out your bosses are super cool, there’s plenty of alcohol, good music, dancing, shenanigans, sex, crazy party games, live reindeer, Christmas tree jousting…you get the idea: FUN! And while the film has all of these elements, plus mistletoe, two turtle doves, and a partridge in a pear tree, it just doesn’t quite live up to the hype that is a party of this magnitude. It’s more of a ho-hum, run of the mill crazy party movie that doesn’t quite hit the mark. Will you laugh? Oh lawd yes! Does it have its nice, heartfelt moments? That it does. Will you enjoy it? Most likely. Is it worth running out and watching on opening weekend? Eh. If you haven’t seen Moana yet, I’d say go see that. If you have, then Office Christmas Party should give you a few laughs and, hopefully, put you in the holiday spirit for the weekend.