Directors: Josh Gordon, Will Speck
Stars: Jason Bateman, Olivia Munn, T.J. Miller, Jennifer Aniston, Kate McKinnon, Vanessa Bayer
OFFICE CHRISTMAS PARTY, the comedy, about an office party gone haywire is not novel in its idea or conception. The office here is some software tech called Zenotek. The CEO Carol Vanstone (Jennifer Aniston) tries to close the branch of her hard-partying brother Clay (T. J. Miller). Clay and his Chief Technical Officer, Josh Parker (Jason Bateman) must rally their co-workers and host an epic office Christmas party in an effort to impress a potential client, first name Walter (Courtney B. Vance) and close a sale that will save their jobs. It is not a revolutionary storyline, but one that has potential for high jinx comedy. Directors Speck and Gordon (BLADES OF GLORY and THE SWITCH) has fashioned this office party comedy using all means they can get their hands on. The result is them getting their hands too full.
OFFICE CHRISTMAS PARTY will be inevitably compared to other party comedies like the teen PROJECT X and the Blake Edwards/Peter Sellers collaboration THE PARTY. Like both films, OFFICE CHRISTMAS PARTY is about the party that escalates slowly out of control. Here, a dressed up Jesus rides a white horse right down the office cubicles. The building high rise windows get smashed and almost every male gets a blow job.
In THE PARTY a painted elephant gets washed with bubbles everywhere while all the surrounding trees and electricity poles get wrecked outside the party house in PROJECT X. But the problem with OFFICE CHRISTMAS PARTY is that just when the party gets funny, right after Walter accidentally gets coked up, the film is taken out into the open where an unfunny car chase takes place ending with the car racing to make a drawbridge – a stunt that is does not come off that funny.
The Russian mafia takedown does not generate much laughs either.
The script takes the plot of saving the company too seriously. The audience is supposed to believe that Josh’s romantic interest, Tracey (Olivia Munn) has invented some internet communications portal. Who really cares? If one can remember, THE PARTY hardly and any plot but an Indian actor accidentally invited to a Hollywood party and accidentally causing havoc.
The cast contains some bright talents – some funny but some not. Saturday Night Live’s Kate McKinnon (she played Hillary Clinton on SNL) is winning as the politically correct HR person, thought the script has to rely on her sex and fart jokes. (She is called the farty lady). Courtney B. Vance is also a scream. Bateman and Munn have straight roles while Miller is not funny at all. Jennifer Aniston is quite game for anything and she does the Meryl Streep role in THE DEVIL WEARS PRADA. Her character makes two grand entrances (remember Streep’s unforgettable 10 minute entrance to the Prada building at the film’s start?) to the brother’s company.
Considering the cast and talent involved in OFFICE CHRISTMAS PARTY, the film could have come up with a higher hit and miss laughter ratio. Still, my bet is the film doing well at the box-office, with a film milking the perfect festive holiday theme of an office party.
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