Movie: "Office Christmas Party"Director: Josh Gordon & Will Speck
Running Time: 1 hour, 45 minutes
"Office Christmas Party" is directed by Josh Gordon and Will Speck, who are best known for directing films like "Blades of Glory" and "The Switch." It stars T.J. Miller as Clay Vanstone, Chicago branch manager of Zenotech. He is a laid back boss who tries to do fun things for his employees, and he's a bit of a party guy. Let's face it, he's the same character T.J. Miller always plays. Joining him are Jason Bateman and Olivia Munn as department heads Josh Parker and Tracey Hughes, who are second and third in command at the Chicago branch. Much like Miller, Bateman and Munn play to type the entire film. Bateman once again does what his wildly successful "Arrested Development" character Michael Bluth does as the witty, sarcastic, dry straight-man, and Munn is the tech smart, nerdy and ~*super relatable~* hot girl. Also in the film is Jennifer Aniston, who plays Carol Vanstone, Clay's older sister and CEO of Zenotech. Carol is bit of an asshole who only cares about the bottom line. When Clay's branch only grows 6.5% instead of 7% in their fourth quarter, she threatens to shut them down, or at the very least, lay off 40% of the staff. In order to save jobs within the company, Clay needs to land a big client like Walter Davis, played by Courtney B. Vance. In order to do just that, Clay, Josh and Tracey plan to show him a good time at their office Christmas party, which very quickly goes spiraling out of control, turning into a boisterous, disorderly insane rager. Also in the film are Kate McKinnon, Rob Corddry, Vanessa Bayer, Randall Park, Sam Richardson, and Jillian Bell. Almost every single one of them plays to type like Miller, Bateman, and Munn. They each have their shtick and they certainly stick to it.
This is your expected raucous party movie where someone throws a big shindig for typically stuffy people that winds up going way over the top in a very short amount time. Similar themes can be seen in "Bad Moms" from earlier this year, as well as "Sisters" from this time last year. Luckily, "Office Christmas Party" spends most of its time at the actual "nondenominational holiday mixer," but what comes before and after it is mostly pointless plot-building for a story that doesn't really need to be shoehorned in there. We will say this movie does have a couple of big laughs, but if you've seen the trailers, you've already seen 90% of the best jokes. There are a scant few genuinely funny moments that didn't appear in the trailers because they are a little too R-rated. Randall Park's character has one of the better scenes in the film, as well as the paid-for Jesus galloping on horseback, also shown in the trailer. Almost nothing is left to the imagination as the story navigates through its linear formula with only mediocre success.
We were really looking forward to "Office Christmas Party," but left feeling pretty underwhelmed. We hate it when good comedies have their best jokes ruined and spoiled by their trailers, and that's what has happened here. As long as you can stand Kate McKinnon being super weird and goofy, Jason Bateman being sarcastic and stuffy, T.J. Miller being loud and obnoxious, the obvious attempts to make the whole thing feel more heartstrings-tugging, and only mildly good chemistry between coworkers, friends and lovers, this comedy is for you. As laughs fade, as they often do here, the plot should be the fallback, but this comedy is thin and contrived. We left the theater a little disappointed in this movie. We aren't too harsh at judging the plot lines of comedies since laughter is their number one goal, but most of the actual story here is lame and trite.
My Rating: 5/10
BigJ's Rating: 5/10
IMDB's Rating: ~5.7/10
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: ~44%
Do we recommend this movie: Meh.