Office Christmas Party review – boozy, brainless fun

Office Christmas Party might not become an annual viewing tradition, but it’s enjoyable enough for those seeking a raunchier holiday treat.

When his Scrooge-like sister (Jennifer Aniston) threatens to shut down his office, desperate branch manager Clay (T.J. Miller, Deadpool) has to throw the holiday party of all parties to save his staffers’ jobs.

To do that, Clay has to woo stuffy exec Walter Davis (Courtney B. Vance) into signing a lucrative contract that will keep the branch afloat. While he might not be business savvy, Clay taps into his unrivaled knack for throwing the best party around and sell him on the branch’s camaraderie.

Office-Christmas-Party-review-TJ-Miller-and-Jennifer-AnistonBut first, he’s got to get his risk-averse second in command Josh (Jason Bateman, Horrible Bosses 2) on board. Bateman has perfected the ‘rational thinker surrounded by idiots’ role that it’s hard to picture him doing anything else. He provides the film its stable base and plays off well with Miller and Olivia Munn (X-Men: Apocalypse) who plays his office crush.

Aniston has become a reliable hit in this style of comedy and her worst CEO ever take never manages to grow tiresome. Her scene with Fortune Feimster playing an overenthusiastic Uber driver might be the film’s best bit.

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The big laughs come from the kooky ensemble headed up by Kate McKinnon (Ghostbusters) playing a by the book H.R. director, Karan Soni as a harassed boss looking to impress his co-workers with his hot girlfriend and Rob Corddry as an ill-assigned customer service rep. When the film sticks to the office party craziness, it’s a lot of fun with a largely solid hit to miss joke ratio.

One of the more impressive moments from the film comes in its pinnacle scene with the fate of the company at stake. The scene features three Asian actors, two black actors, a Latino, an Indian and one white guy. Race is a non-factor in the film and it was nice to see the characters being more defined by their quirky personalities instead of playing up to tired stereotypes.

Office-Christmas-Party-review-Randall-Park-and-Vanessa-BayerThis is weird to say about a movie that features a dude copying his junk with a 3D printer, but it doesn’t go as nuts (pun intended) as needed. Sure, there’s some hilarious moments of mayhem, but given the talent involved it felt like there were some more jokes left on the table.

Bizarrely, that’s thanks to the screenwriters actually spending more than two minutes on the plot. Really, this just needed to be summed up as crazy office party goes off the rails.

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Ordinarily, a comedy willing to invest in its characters is a good thing. Office Christmas Party can’t really let its freak flag fly as it constantly has to keep progressing the story.

At times, Directors Josh Gordon and Will Speck veer away from the debauchery to focus on character relationships. That’s about as fun as signing up for the office potluck after drinks and chips are off the board. The film is at its best when Gordon and Speck just embrace the madness and stop being so serious. Not a bad morale for a holiday party movie.

Even though it doesn’t quite reach its potential, Office Christmas Party provides some nice, quality holiday laughs.

Rating: 7.5 out of 10

Photo Credit: Paramount Pictures

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