Review - 'Office Christmas Party'
Office Christmas Party attempts to be a Christmas-themed version of The Hangover films, but just comes off as a cliched comedy that was only able to elicit two, count 'em, two chuckles from yours truly throughout its entire duration.
The film follows a group of employees that work for a firm that isn't pulling the numbers it should be. When newly appointed CEO Carol Vanstone (Jennifer Aniston) pays the branch a visit, she gives them a near-impossible ultimatum: seal a multi-million-dollar deal with another company in a day's time. When the deal predictably falls through, the GM of the branch decides to throw an epic Christmas party in a last-ditch effort to woo the company's CEO into giving them another shot.
I was expecting to at least be modestly entertained by this flick, seeing as how Josh Gordon and Will Speck, the directors behind the dopey-but-lovable Blades of Glory were behind this. Office Christmas Party does kick off on a semi-promising note. The movie shotguns all of these wildly eccentric characters at you at a blisteringly rapid pace and they're all so outrageous that I believed the film might win me over on its wildly-written characters alone. Sadly, almost all of these characters sputter out of comedic gas by the half-way mark, and the insanely simplistic and neigh non-existent plot isn't able to pick up the slack.
There are so many talented actors in this film that it's absolutely baffling that the movie fails on so many levels. Every actor in this film plays exactly the same character they've played in their previous films, only dialed down to about 50% of their normal output levels. Jason Bateman plays Chief Technical Officer Josh Parker and he's basically the same exact character you saw him portray in Horrible Bosses, you know; the relate-able every-man who decides to make a sudden radical change in his life. Jennifer Aniston also channels her recent comedic turns, and while it's fun to see her playing a stuck-up hard-ass; her character's demeanor was still uncannily familiar and not quite as good as some of her other more memorable performances in recent comedies. Then we have Kate McKinnon, Olivia Munn and T.J. Miller; who are all fun to watch, but can be seen in far better form and in lengthier capacities elsewhere. Literally everyone in Office Christmas Party seems to be phoning it in and while they're all still amusing to watch, I felt like my time could have been better spent kicking back on my couch watching their various other comedic endeavors at a lower price on my TV.
Despite being half-filled husks of other better characters, the actors are not this film's fatal flaw. That honor belongs to the script and the film's extremely lazy attempts at a narrative. The story presented to us here is basically non-existent. The reason they throw this party makes virtually no sense and would never work. I could tell that the filmmakers just wanted to create a landscape where increasingly ludicrous actions could take place but that idea isn't interesting if you don't have anything new to bring to the table. I'm totally down for a raucous party film any day of the week but it has to show me something unique. I'm usually able to forgive a film that doesn't have an interesting story so long as it counterbalances it with personality and creativity, but this film can't even throw a good party, and that's the title of the film!
On top of all this, Office Christmas Party has one of the worst resolutions that I've seen in a film all year. Not only is this plot device mind-numbing in its timing and stupidity, it's also completely impossible. I cringed. I groaned. I got back to my car and laughed.
Despite all of the sins this film commits, it actually manages to be a pretty good-looking movie. I've brought up The Hangover series once before in this review and I'm going to again. This film looks like it could have been directed by Todd Phillips, who might not create the most profound of films, but definitely has a great sense of what makes an interesting shot. Office Christmas Party doesn't look quite as good as Phillip's work, but it apes his style effectively.
I would not recommend Office Christmas Party to anyone, save for maybe the hard-partying early-college crowd, and even then I'd recommend a large handful of other films before even mentioning this one. Office Christmas Party has a couple of laughs but that's nowhere near enough to redeem its many narrative faults and under-written characters.