Office Christmas Party – Film Review by Fran Winston
Directed by: Josh Gordon & Will Speck
Starring: Jason Bateman, Olivia Munn, T. J. Miller, Jillian Bell, Courtney B. Vance, Kate McKinnon, Jennifer Aniston
In cinemas December 7th
It’s the most wonderful time of the year – until you do something super embarrassing at your work festive do and spend the rest of the holidays with “the fear” about facing everyone throughout the following year. At least that’s how I understand the concept of the Office Christmas Party as, since I freelance, I have rarely attended one. Although if this serves as an example of what I am missing then that is probably a good thing.
The clue is in the title when it comes to plot. Miller and Bateman play Clay and Josh who run a data management company called Zenotek. They organise the office party to end all office parties to impress a potential client Walter (Vance). However with Clay’s sister Carol (Aniston) intent on closing their branch and staff morale at an all time low it doesn’t take long before things get out of hand.
This isn’t trying to become a much loved classic and owes more to The Hangover than other seasonal fare such as It’s a Wonderful Life. After a short time spent setting up the story the rest of the movie if pretty much just party carnage as every possible cliché and contrived situation is shoehorned in. There are the employees who can’t get a babysitter and so bring their child to the party. There are the people who decide to photocopy body parts until realising that the 3D printer is so much better at duplicating them. There are the fledgling office romances that come to the fore when everyone has consumed too much booze. There’s the inappropriate ice sculpture. There’s the escort masquerading as an employee’s girlfriend. You name it and its here.
Aniston’s role is mainly that of the Scrooge type character, which she plays in a suitably OTT manner. Meanwhile Miller is trying to be adorably gormless as Clay but just comes across as stupid in parts. The best performance here comes from Bateman who is a seasoned pro at these OTT slapstick comedies and Kate McKinnon should raise a chuckle as a beleaguered HR manager trying to keep everyone under control.
Just when you think this has hit the pinnacle of ridiculousness it manages to raise the bar even higher. That’s not necessarily a bad thing. It’s not trying to be something it’s not and there’s a huge market for this kind of low brow in your face comedy. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t laugh at parts of this but overall it was just too generic and too similar to other superior offerings to really affect me. If you want to feel a little festive cheer before the partying starts in earnest then this should do the job but it’s far from groundbreaking.
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