Office Christmas Party (comedy, directed by Josh Gordon and Will Speck) tells the story of office life during Christmas time in today’s over-cautious, under-entertained, nanny-state working society, where HR are ever present. Starring Jason Bateman, Olivia Munn, T. J. Miller, and Jennifer Aniston (as Bitch-Boss. Ok that’s not her real name but she does seem to be typecast, hey?).
Clay (T. J. Miller) is the Chicago branch manager of a large company who do…stuff. Josh (Jason Bateman) Clay’s chief tech. officer and Tracey (Olivia Munn…..does anyone else hear angel choirs when her name is mentioned? No? Just me? Ok..) are charged with the responsibility of organising the branch’s boring, vanilla, end of year office party. Enter Bitch-Bo…er, Carol (Jennifer Aniston), Clay’s sister and the CEO of the company who decides that, to save money, all bonuses are scrapped, all Christmas parties cancelled and, oh yeah, lets fire 40% of the staff. Naturally it’s up to Clay and team to save the day and convince Carol to save the staff if they can secure an elusive, major client, Walter Davis (Courtney B Vance) who has the financial ability to support the company. The seemingly bored-in-life yet reluctant Davis agrees to attend their Office Christmas party which they promise will be the ‘party of the year’.
The film is not without its clichés so it becomes fairly predictable rather quickly, however it’s still a fun film and as the supporting characters develop they inject the fun into the office party. The HR manager, Mary (Kate McKinnon) is quite on point in the ‘always-watching’ voice of legal reason, who naturally opens up to be the wild card, just add alcohol. You have the office boys who always target the ‘nerd-with-a-hot-girlfriend’ with their natural disbelief of his luck, and the aforementioned nerd who turns to the use of a hooker to give himself cred, only to be busted when she naturally gravitates to form (a good time to be a bloke in the men’s room), and of course, the usual secret office relationships, rife with sexual tension.
The film is unfortunately let down by its lead, Jason Bateman, who barely does his part to carry it while Munn serves as the obvious love interest and saviour-of-the-day, and even Aniston has only a few lines within her cliché that provide decent laughs. But the true letdown is in Jillian Bell’s character, Trina; a passive/aggressive pimp who has a sweet side for cash and a violent streak for those who make it hard for her to get it. Her character has a potential for comedy during her sweet scenes but it seems ruined when she flicks over to her angry side, which happens a little too often to be funny.
All, however, is not lost and the film’s true shining star is in Vance’s character, Walter Davis. At first coming across as the unimpressed and strait-laced successful businessman, his characters walls begin to crumble as the party takes its toll and the fun side emerges. This, along with Clay’s (Miller) persistent desire for Davis, and everyone else, to just have fun, provides the majority of the laughs, and essentially the film’s message: our restricted corporate world has taken away the fun in our day to day, and the only way to get it back is to rebel!
It’s difficult to look beyond the cliches in this movie however, and I feel it suffers from being a little too predictable. As much fun as it is in parts, the feeling that you’ve seen this all before is a little too prevalent. I give this film 2.5/5 stars.