Film Review: Office Christmas Party

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Frances Winston had a few laughs at this, but felt it was too similar to other films of this genre to become a classic

Directed by: Josh Gordon & Will Speck – Starring: Jason Bateman, Olivia Munn, T. J. Miller, Jillian Bell, Courtney B. Vance, Kate McKinnon, Jennifer Aniston

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.

Office Christmas Party 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 is 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 it’s 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 Office Christmas Party 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 Office Christmas Party, 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 Office Christmas Party should do the job, but it’s far from groundbreaking.

In Cinemas Now!

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The new LGBT magazine; available online, for download and on podcast. It's time for another view.
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