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Office Christmas Party - Cinemaholic Movie Reviews
one person's obsessive addiction to film
Office Christmas Party
Directing: C+
Acting: B
Writing: C
Cinematography: B+
Editing: C

Office Christmas Party tries really hard to be a blast, and therein lies its problem. You spend most of this movie feeling how hard it's trying, and not having the blast it's straining to promise you.

A lot of times a movie like this gets mixed reviews, but it reliably delivers a lot of laughs anyway. That's kind of what I expected going in -- a dumb but at least intermittently hilarious romp, an "office Christmas party" take on Animal House. I got the feeling the people who made it had a good time making it. It certainly seems that way during the outtakes we're treated to during the opening credits. I laughed more consistently during those than the rest of the movie. That's not really the best compliment, though.

A lot of times the editing can make or break a movie. There could have been way funnier stuff that somehow wound up on the editing floor, in service of a story with "heart." Whatever, just make me laugh! I guess we could just blame the editors. Then again, the co-directors (Josh Gordon and Will Speck, who also co-directed Blades of Glory) would have still been their bosses, so they ultimately must take responsibility. Office Christmas Party is just plain blah.

It's not like Jason Bateman is the funniest guy out there. He has a reliably likable demeanor, but isn't really well cast as a guy in the middle of what's meant to be chaotic hilarity. He's much better in other movies, even comedies, that are a bit more tempered. T.J. Miller does seem like the perfect choice as the lovable fuckup of a guy meant to run this branch of a tech company that makes vaguely defined products. Jennifer Aniston lends both genuine star power and a game performance as his tightly wound sister hell bent on downsizing to save the company money.

The premise is simple enough -- perhaps too simple: these guys go balls-out with the company Christmas party in an effort to impress a potential client (Courtney B. Vance) they've been told they need to close a deal with in order to save this branch, and they have only two days to do it in. Things get out of hand due to both some zany misplacement of cocaine by a hastily hired escort and a random employee inviting the whole of Chicago to the party.

Never mind that no corporate office party would ever get this kind of out of hand -- that's beside the point. That kind of thing is forgivable when a movie like this works. But, alas, Office Christmas Party doesn't. It spends too much time on setup in the beginning, with far too few laughs and subtle but forced gags, and then it hits hyper drive with the chaos. Someone should tell these people that random chaos is not on its own inherently funny.

Now, I did laugh . . . a little. Almost consistently. But it was always little more than chuckles. This movie reaches a pinnacle of being mildly amusing. Plenty of other movies have managed to be far funnier with far less effort. Even Kate McKinnon as the repressed HR Director doesn't quite hit the way she usually does -- although, to her credit, she does more than anyone else around her in this movie. Seriously, why has no one given that woman a starring role yet?

Thus, Office Christmas Party is a definitively average movie. I'm usually more charitable with my ratings of films, but this one ends with a real air of disappointment. This is what I just gave two hours of my life to? Was that worth $13.50? You know, not really. I could have been just as entertained scrolling through Internet memes at home for free. And it's too bad, because the actors all do a good job with what they have to work with. Spending time with them is pleasant enough. Just not enough to see then saddled with this excessively contrived script.

OFFICE CHRISTMAS PARTY is not quite the crowd pleaser it wants to be.

Overall: C+
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