Office Christmas Party Review
Not quite a Christmas cracker but not a turkey either
A whole host of comedy stars join together to bring the world’s wildest office party to life – it’s Christmas on crack.In case you’ve managed to miss the never-ending stream of adverts screaming from your TV, it’s the party season. All the Christmas spirit and a bit of New Year glee (plus extra this year since we’ll be seeing the back of 2016) combine to make December a time for many festive gatherings and usually one or two rounds of drunken hijinks, usually centred around the workplace.Office Christmas Party is exactly what it says on the tin. It’s actually really surprising no one in that big shiny Hollywood bubble has ever thought of making a movie based on the global phenomenon of the office Christmas party before, particularly given the weird topics that have been mined for comedic value – like emptying houses, the end of the world, retirement and the volatile job market.
This particular Christmas party is adorned with a huge group of Hollywood stars – from Jennifer Aniston to Courtney B. Vance. Aniston plays Zenotek CEO Carol Vanstone, who is trying to shut down one of the company’s offices, which just happens to be run by her hedonistic brother Clay (T.J. Miller). Clay decides that the only way to save his office and the careers of his co-workers is to throw a Christmas party of truly epic proportions. Because that’s what this season is all about.
Office Christmas Party joins an interesting list of recent Hollywood offerings featuring impressive ensemble casts (I’m thinking of This is the End, Movie 43 and any of Garry Marshall’s holiday-specific films here, hence the word ‘interesting’). Aniston and Miller are joined by Vance, Olivia Munn, Kate McKinnon, Jason Bateman and Randall Park as well as several other familiar faces you’ll probably recognise if you’re a fan of American TV comedy.
This is exactly what you expect – there’s a lot of shouting, loud laughing, copious drinking, serious-looking injuries, fire… it’s Project X high on egg nog. Thing is, there often comes a point in actual office Christmas parties when you want to leave, and wish you hadn’t even turned up. And it’s usually not too long after the beginning. Do you see where I’m going with this?
There’s shouting, laughing, drinking, injuries, fire… it’s Project X high on egg nog
Office Christmas Party isn’t as hateful as Project X, and there are some really funny parts. McKinnon, in typical fashion, steals the entire movie and is hilarious as Mary from HR. It’s not really anything you haven’t seen before though, to the point where you’ll feel like you’ve actually met these characters before: Bateman’s straight-man is in classic Michael Bluth territory, while Aniston just picks up where she left off with her awful character from Horrible Bosses.
The film is reminiscent of last year’s Sisters, which was also built around a singular shindig and a bunch of dysfunctional invitees. There’s a lot of toilet humour, more physical comedy than you could hurl a stick at, and a whole bunch of actors and characters you’d actually want to invite to your office’s party. The plot is devastatingly simple, and directors Will Speck and Josh Gordon rely fairly heavily on the natural comedy ability and inbuilt likeability of the film’s cast. It works a lot of the time, and it also gets old fairly quickly. There’s only so many times you can be amused by massive criminal property damage and grievous bodily harm before you start stifling your yawns.
If you’re after a belly laugh, give this a go. It’s Christmas, you’ve got a lot on your plate – if you don’t want a ton of plot or intrigue to contend with, spend a mindless hour and a half with Clay and Mary and Carol. This isn’t particularly clever, and it’s not going to reinvent the wheel anytime soon. But it’s not pretending to – this is a gross-out, politically incorrect, laugh-at-awkward-people-doing-outrageous-things comedy, and it does that pretty well.
Christmas cracker it might not be, but it’s not a total turkey, either.
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