TL;DR – This is the same kind of movie as every R-rated comedy of the last couple of years, but thankfully with a bit more substance than usual
Score – 2.5 out of 5 stars
So as we race to the end of the year, and in the lull before Star Wars destroys the box office, in its wake, we have Trolls and Office Christmas Party fighting it out to see who will get that dollar, dollar bill. Since I don’t have children I don’t have to be subjected to that Trolls nonsense (truly you guys are the MVPs) which I was over about the same time JT was performing at Eurovision, so instead this week we have Office Christmas Party. OCP is another in a long line of R-rated comedies that have sprung up in the aftermath of Hangover and Bridesmaids, and has many similarities with other films that we have looked at this year like Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates, Bad Neighbours 2, Grimsby, and Dirty Grandpa, indeed it fits into the same category as The Night Before which was last year’s R-rated Christmas comedy, and more so it seems to be taking a lot of queues from Unfinished Business with its plot, but somehow OCP makes it work when most of these other films were a mess.
So before I start, I a pretty sure I can tell you if you would be interested in watching this film with the following description, this movie contains, among other things, Sex, Nudity, Language, and Drugs, and at this point you probably have indeed decided if you will be giving this film a wide berth or not.
Office Christmas Party has a very simple yet effective set up, Josh Parker (Jason Bateman) is managing the Chicago branch of Zenotek, a tech company, under his manager and carefree son of the recently deceased founder Clay (T.J. Miller), then Clay’s sister and company CEO Carol (Jennifer Aniston) arrives and tells them if they don’t land a client in 3 days she is shutting the branch down. So, of course, what do you do to land that big client, well you through the biggest Christmas Party you can. As far as set-ups go, as I said it is quite simple, but this allows you to save time on explaining everyone’s motivations as it is all pretty clear what they all are. When it comes to the rest of the plot, well it’s all pretty straightforward, you can probably guess the arcs of every character in the first 10 minutes and you’d probably be right. So while there are no real surprises here at any point, it is executed quite well.
While as I said the story is quite simple the actual filmmaking is a step up from a lot of the similar films in this genre, even though this is just an R comedy they still show a good eye for composition and visual storytelling. For one I appreciated that there were very few jump scare jokes which permeated this enter genre for some reason. I also liked how they used visuals to set up jokes without jamming it down our thoughts, for example [Spoilers] at the start of the party there is a snow blower that has little bags of white powder that you drop into it so it shoots fake snow around. As soon as you see that set up, you know at some point someone is going to put cocaine down with the white bags and someone is going to put it in the machine by accident, which of course happens, but so often they would go out of their way to go ‘oo I sure hope people down put anything into that other than those little bags’ wink, wink nudge, nudge, we get it we know, and here thankfully we are spared this. So while this film is not The Revenant or even Kung Fu Panda 3, I did appreciate people trying to make it visually engaging.
When it comes to the casting, everyone is playing characters that they are well versed in and have a lot of experience portraying. So, on the one hand, it means these actors have a lot of experience in these roles which shows, but on the other hand, it all does start to feel a bit too familiar. I’m not sure how many films Jason Bateman has been in since Arrested Development where he plays the exasperated straight man to everyone else’s shenanigans, but here we are again. Jennifer Aniston overly stuck up boss is as well as can be expected, and indeed her relationship with T.J. Millier’s character is one of the things that elevates OCP above many of its contemporaries. Also, Kate McKinnon nails the high-strung yet really weird HR Manager Mary, in a role that might have been written just for her.
Is it a perfect film, oh good grief no, there are a lot of issues once you start looking into it, and to do so we need to [ENGAGE SPOILERS] for the rest of this paragraph as we will be talking about the ending. Firstly let’s be honest the moment things started flying out of windows and onto the pavement below the police would have been in there shutting that party down, in fact probably before then. Also with regards to the technology used in the film I checked this with people in the industry, who confirmed it as being the ‘Highest Order of Bulldash’. I am old enough to remember dial-up and good luck uploading through that. Also, just for a moment let’s imagine that is did work as described in the film, as soon as it was released that is the person that destroyed Chicago’s internet was the same company that then let people access it through a new method, that person would be arrested/sued, like seriously even without that he would be jailed for the crash for at least driving under the influence.
So can I recommend Office Christmas Party, well as I said up above you already know if you are going to go see it or not, and I doubt this review has changed you mind one way or another. What I can say is that Office Christmas Party is better than a lot of its contemporaries, but that’s not a very high bar to cross.
By Brian MacNamara: You can follow Brian on Twitter Here, when he’s not chatting about Movies and TV, he’ll be talking about International Relations, or the Solar System.
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Directed by – Will Speck & Josh Gordon
Screenplay by – Justin Malen, Laura Solon & Dan Mazer
Story by – Jon Lucas, Scott Moore & Timothy Dowling
Music by – Theodore Shapiro
Cinematography by – Jeff Cutter
Starring – Jason Bateman, T.J. Miller, Jennifer Aniston, Olivia Munn, Kate McKinnon, Jillian Bell, Vanessa Bayer, Rob Corddry, Randall Park & Courtney B. Vance
Rating – Australia: MA15+; Canada: 14A; NZ: R; UK: 15; USA: R