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Office Christmas Party (A Movie Review)

Updated: Mar 21, 2020

Office Christmas Party

Office Christmas Party


Starring Jason Bateman, Olivia Munn, T.J. Miller, Jennifer Aniston, Kate McKinnon, Courtney B. Vance, Jillian Bell, Rob Corddry, Vanessa Bayer, Randall Park, Sam Richardson, Karan Soni, Jamie Chung, Abbey Lee, Da’Vine Joy Randolph, Andrew Leeds, Oliver Cooper, Chloe Wepper, Matt Walsh, Ben Falcone, Adrian Martinez, Fortune Feimster, Nick Peine, Erick Chavarria, Jimmy Butler and Michael Tourek.

Screenplay by Justin Malen & Laura Solon & Dan Mazer.

Directed by Josh Gordon and Will Speck.

Distributed by Paramount Pictures.  105 minutes.  Rated R.

Imagine the craziest corporate holiday party that you have ever been to.  People working off the frustrations of the year by taking one day to cut completely loose (and possibly destroy their work reputation).  There will be binge drinking, people hooking up in the bathroom or closets, the copying of genitals on the Xerox machine, someone throwing up, someone passing out, someone singing, someone crying.

Okay, are you imagining it?  Now take the wildness quotient and multiply it by at least ten, and you’re closing in on Office Christmas Party.  Hundreds, maybe thousands of people binge drinking, bad karaoke rap covers, Christmas trees on fire, reindeer drinking from the toilet bowls, the copying of genitals on the 3D copy machine, people swinging on the twinkling lights, model-hot hookers giving hand jobs in the men’s room, cocaine being blown through a snow machine, people passed out everywhere.

It almost makes the granddaddy of these bacchanalian cinematic parties – the toga party scene in National Lampoon’s Animal House – seem quaint and restrained by comparison.

Okay, now I want you to imagine this.  You are at this party, but you’ve been named designated driver and you’re one of the few sober people there.  Suddenly all that might have seemed wild, sexy and fun if you were hammered merely seems loud, chaotic, stupid and more than just a little pathetic.

This, in a nutshell, is the big problem with Office Christmas Party.  Very few of their audience members are going to be as hammered as the characters are on the screen.  And when you’re sober you tend to realize that there’s nothing really funny about a drunk.  Even less so when there are hundreds of them all together in a mob.

It’s a real shame because there are a lot of good comic actors here whose talent is pretty much squandered – including Jason Bateman, Olivia Munn, T.J. Miller, Jennifer Aniston, Kate McKinnon, Courtney B. Vance, Jillian Bell, Rob Corddry, Vanessa Bayer, Randall Park and more.  Particularly wasted is McKinnon, who squanders her Saturday Night Live sizzle – from playing Hillary Clinton and Kellyanne Conway during the election season – with a role that strangely muzzles her oddball sparkle.  A rare manic comic turn by Courtney B. Vance is also let down by rather pedestrian writing.

Office Christmas Party is an odd conundrum, because the party itself stops being funny long before it runs its course, yet in the sections when they actually try to shoehorn a little actual plot into their plot (mostly variations of whether or not they can save the company from closing and a few will-they-or-won’t-they romantic couplings), the film grinds to a dead halt every time.

The best thing I can say about Office Christmas Party is that at least you won’t have a hangover when it is over.

Jay S. Jacobs

Copyright ©2016 All rights reserved. Posted: December 9, 2016.

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