Review: ‘Office Christmas Party’ is An Amusing Holiday Diversion
Office Christmas Party is funny enough, but doesn’t utilize its talented cast.
Synopsis: In “Office Christmas Party,” the CEO (Jennifer Aniston) tries to shut down her brother’s branch office, he (T.J. Miller) and his fun-loving Chief Technical Officer (Jason Bateman) must unite their co-workers to host a large office Christmas party as a way to impress a potential client and close a large deal that will save all of their jobs. The new comedy from directors Josh Gordon and Will Speck (“The Switch,” “Blades of Glory”) co-stars SNL actress Kate McKinnon, Olivia Munn, Jamie Chung, and Courtney B. Vance.
Cinematics (Cinematography, Acting, Plot, etc.) – 3
“Office Christmas Party” arrives at a time when we could use a laugh. It provides many of them. As a movie, “Office Christmas Party” feels about as last minute as the big holiday party the characters find themselves planning. And like the party, it somehow manages to work at times. It isn’t perfect. Far from it, actually. The plot of this all-star comedy feels like it was constructed out of a Paramount exec board room. Yet, this is rather tame compared to the corporate yuletide debauchery holiday moviegoers experienced a few years ago with Scorsese’s “The Wolf Of Wall Street.”
The script which has numerous credited writers (Justin Malen, Laura Solon, Jon Lucas, Scott Moore, and Dan Mazer) is thin. One can tell this cast is improvising (especially after watching the bloopers in the credits). The writing squanders great potential with two A-list actors playing C-level company leaders. Jennifer Aniston channels her character from “Horrible Bosses” when she fights with her brother and “Horrible Bosses” co-star Jason Bateman. (They did star opposite each other in “The Switch.”) If the screenplay fails to provide enough context to their relationship, it (somewhat) makes up for other moments in the movie distracting us with character subplots. Some are office romances, corporate politics, and awkward interactions. This can only go for so long, but it is a welcomed distraction in between the gags.
The cast saves the movie even as it drags, but it could only do so much. Funny woman Kate McKinnon steals every scene as the stuffy, politically correct HR manager. She has a multi-denominational sweater that celebrates all of the season’s holidays. Karan Soni won me over as the IT guy who hired an escort to impress his co-workers. Jillian Bell plays a foul-mouth pimp who’s comedic turn hits more times than it misses. The extended cameo of Aniston’s Uber driver provided additional comic relief from an unexpected source. “Office Christmas Party” would’ve benefited with more surprises like the energetic comic moments that featured the driver. She could only be in so much of the movie.
Entertainment Value – 4
“Office Christmas Party” is an amusing, holiday-themed escape at the movies. I did laugh myself silly more than a pretentious critics like myself is willing to admit. I had a good time. The crowd-pleaser is going to do well with audiences this season. The crowd I watched this with was perfect and had a great time! I know people will enjoy it.
I think a level of expectation can make or break the entertainment factor for people. People who get excited about the cast and premise will be let down. I tempered my expectations since this was as big studio comedy. Like its office setting, “Office Christmas Party” can only be so outrageous. This is a company celebration. It somehow managed to wear its heart on its sleeve in the third act.
Re-Watchability – 3
I am not sure how “re-watchable” the movie “Office Christmas Party” is especially in the context of Christmas classics. I enjoy Christmas movies, but miss the days when Hollywood took chances with “Elf,” “Love Actually,” and the original “Bad Santa.” All three of those movies were released on November of 2003. This seems relatively safe for an outrageous comedy and ultimately forgettable. In this context, “Office Christmas Party” is good enough for the year, but not something to be celebrated in the diverse and popular canon of holiday classics.
- Entertainment Value
"Office Christmas Party" provides some decent and consistent laughs from a talented cast. Like an overbearing party guest, it stays too long and ultimately won't be a memorable holiday-themed classic.
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