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Its cast of gifted comics is good for a handful of laughs, but Office Christmas Party's overstuffed plot ultimately proves roughly as disappointing as its clichéd gags and forced sentimentality.
All Critics (178)
| Top Critics (31)
| Fresh (73)
| Rotten (105)
Even a third act demolition derby tribute to The Blues Brothers can't revitalize this stiff.
The rager's excesses are wholly predictable: cocaine, a lot of white people jumping up and down to DJ Kool, gay-panicky visuals with eggnog.
Yet another reminder that allowing your cast to madly improvise instead of actually providing a coherent script with a scintilla of logic often leads to a decline in sustained laughter.
The supporting characters are the people who are funny. They're the people we care about. And every time the movie cuts from their mad antics ... the whole film starts to deflate a little, like a Mylar balloon from the discount party store.
A joyless, laughless - that's right, not even one laugh - affair that proves how indulgent and (worse) boring ensemble comedies such as this become when the ensemble has next to no natural chemistry and even less of a script to riff off of.
Like most office Christmas parties, you should skip it.
The film is definitely set during the holiday season, and there's definitely a Santa suit floating around there somewhere, but you still feel a little dirty after you watch it.
Overall, this is one movie that is guaranteed to give some good laughs.
Office Christmas Party has assembled a hell of a cast but the group proves unable to move beyond the ho-hum work from directing duo of Josh Gordon and Will Speck or the thin-yet-overstuffed, cliché-riddled screenplay to come up with consistent laughs.
Not quite a Christmas turkey, and not quite a sparkling glass of fizz either, this is intermittently funny. The meant-to-be-boring section, where everyone at the party is just looking glum, is boring and I sat there in the cinema just looking glum.
Like a real Christmas office party, the film of the same name takes a while to warm up and regale itself to the audience.
There are scant laughs in this rambunctious, overstuffed piece of boilerplate comedy that only seems to confirm that whatever software the studios are employing to create the scenarios for its comedies is grievously malfunctioning.
So upon reading about this movie, seeing the title and seeing the poster, I came to the conclusion that this was very possibly very similar to many American Christmas sitcom episodes that we've seen over the years (but naughtier). Indeed the whole premise and vibe felt very much like an episode of [i]Friends[/i] or more closely [i]The Office[/i], more so the latter. Nonetheless, being a comedy I was intrigued at the idea as I do enjoy a merry Xmas flick and the whole office scenario seemed like the perfect setting for some good solid filthy laughs.
Essentially what you have here is this large company being run by a buffoon with good intentions (Clay played by T.J. Miller). His staff are generally hard working but include the various stereotypical types that you just know will turn up in something like this. Basically this particular branch of the company hasn't met its quarterly quota, and apparently this means instant terminations and possible shut down of the branch (familiar yet?).
So its decided that the only way to try and get important clients is to hold a mega Christmas bash to show what kind of company they are. Naturally Carol the CEO (Jennifer Aniston) does not like this idea and puts the kibosh on it, naturally the minute she leaves for London Clay and co do it anyway. At first the shindig is a bust, but as the party slowly grows wilder and more riotous, things naturally get more and more hazardous and out of control for the few staff members we are following. And then just when things couldn't get any worse, Carol the CEO turns up because her flight was cancelled.
So taking a quick look at the characters, what do we have? Well as I already said the branch manager Clay is a man who means well but is unfortunately incapable of running an entire office. He seems more interested in having a lark and acting like a child. His boss (and sister), Carol the CEO is of course a complete bitch, ruthless, strict, frustratingly sexy, seemingly never happy and jealous that their father apparently favoured Clay. Lower down the ranks there is Josh (Jason Bateman) who is your all round nice guy, gets on with everyone, is quite clever and is headhunted by Carol for her NYC office. Below Josh is Tracey who is head of tech, a hot female nerd basically. Then you have Mary (Kate McKinnon) who is a jobsworth and thoroughly frigid all round. Nate is yet another tech nerd but this time a full on stereotypical scrawny Asian/Indian nerd complete with thick rim glasses. Jeremy is a grouchy middle aged employee who kinda says what he thinks and has no tact. Then you have Allison who is a single mum and kinda desperate for any kind of relationship and Fred the newbie who has a baby fetish (wanting to be mothered like a baby).
So yeah, all in all the characters don't really offer much in the realms of originality. Jennifer Aniston has literally already played the exact same role in 'Horrible Bosses', the only difference being she was a slutty evil bitch. Jason Bateman literally plays the exact same role he always plays in everything. That being an all round nice guy who gets on with everyone, the goodie, the likeable sensible character. While Kate McKinnon kinda goes against cast as the boring stick-in-the-mud, probably conservative and highly conformist, her character is nothing new. The same can be said for all the other characters who are generally made up by traditional nerds, sexy nerds, oddballs and angry people.
You see that's the main problem here, this concept is old hat, its been done a million times, there isn't really much you can do with this that hasn't been seen before. To make matters worse the comedy is fast and loose missing targets left and right. Yeah Aniston is a sexy bitch, got it. Clay is a likeable moron who manages to host an awesome Xmas party, check. The party involves lots of idiotic visual gags such as chugging alcohol from an ice statues penis. Various people trying to do silly things, whilst drunk, and getting hurt badly (usually jumping off things). Knocking over a huge Christmas tree whilst inside an expensive department store. The uptight client they are trying to impress gets covered in cocaine, gets high and completely cuts loose turning into a party animal. Heck, how many times have we seen that plot angle? The uptight client is won over by the oddballs and becomes one of them. The party eventually gets so out of hand that illegal things are happening willy-nilly like launching items out of the windows (the office is inside a skyscraper). Where did the horses come from??
The movie actually becomes too stupid for its own good. At one point the drunken office folk shove an entire vending machine out of the building window, along with monitors and chairs. I mean sure, a party can get out of control with drugs, sex and booze, all within the realms of possibility. But when things like that start happening from the top end of a skyscraper, we're talking about people possibly getting killed below and police turning up, serious shit. Yet there are no apparent consequences here. A monitor falls and barely misses Aniston as she approaches the building...but she just shrugs it off as an annoying occurrence! Did I mention the horses?
The one thing that did hit me whilst watching this, some Americans have amazing places to work! This office block is in downtown Chicago I believe, and boy is it impressive, the fecking views! The fact that people can work in a place like this (the interior was pretty amazing too) and consider it mundane seems unreal to a Brit like me. Also, Yanks know how to decorate for Christmas (or anything). I've known this from my own holidays, the Americans don't mess around when it comes to decor, it all looks stunning, and this film demonstrates just that. But anyway the movie, yeah its fine I guess. There are numerous sub plots going on with various characters throughout that are reasonably engaging I suppose, nothing special. Usual stuff really, relationship forging, sex, hired prostitutes, revenge, a car chase and finally everything ending happily as the office is saved (because of course). I didn't wanna say it but its essentially a movie length version of [i]The Office[/i], uncut. A late in the day total rampage of stereotypes we've all seen before.
A normal comedy, with little to differentiate it from tons of other riffs on The Hangover, merely to say its no total embarrassment, but neither is it a laff riot.
A mindless comedy that offers the same as any Christmas comedy movie. it's fun just leave it at that!
There is a very wide range between what makes a great comedy and what could make a terrible comedy. In my opinion, there are more mediocre comedies than anything, due to the fact that most films hit with a lot of jokes, but just as quickly fall flat. Office Christmas Party sadly falls right in line with those, but also manages to have quite a few laughs throughout. This is as generic as you can possibly get in terms of story, but the laughs are very present here and does warrant a viewing in the end. I am not going to go all out and praise this as one of the funniest movies I have seen in a while, because I would be lying, but it does have its share of laugh-out-loud gags. Here is my review of Office Christmas Party.
Clay (T.J. Miller) and Carol (Jennifer Aniston) have lost their father. His company is passed onto them. She is thinning the branches out, threatening to close her brother's branch if he doesn't smarten it up. Throwing a company Christmas party in order to seal a new deal, hilarity ensues and Christmas miracles/cheer fills the air. It really is as simple as that. This is a film to kick back, crack open a beer, and just enjoy some nonsensical entertainment. Is it a bad film? Not by any means, but it really isn't that great either. The odd thing about this film is that I found it very funny, but I do not find myself remembering anything I laughed at in the years to come.
I have to commend this film for having very well-timed jokes, having many people laugh throughout the screening I was in, as well as myself, but looking back on the film, there is nothing I can remember that would be worth quoting to someone that would get them into the theatre. That is this films biggest issue. There is nothing wrong with a simple generic tale told well, but the comedy needs to hit. For me, the comedy hit almost all the time, but I immediately forgot about each joke when the film progressed. These characters are developed enough to care about the conclusion of this film, but by the end of the film I felt like each of their characteristics were cranked up to a million.
Although Christmas serves a purpose for the story here, I truly believe that this same premise could have worked as a regular party film. If this film was called Office Party instead of Office Christmas Party it wouldn't have sold as many tickets. The writers of this film cleverly incorporated Christmas into the mix, making for a film that will gains laughs around the holidays. The funny thing is that I believe this film could have worked both as a Christmas movie and as a regular party film, but the bigger Christmas released this year in Bad Santa 2 was much less funnier. For that, I commend Office Christmas Party. This is a decent throwaway film.
In the end, Office Christmas Party is the type of movie that you put on with friends around the holidays when you can't find anything else to watch. You will laugh quite a few times throughout and then completely forget about it until the next time you happen to catch it. It is a film that has funnier side characters than the main cast and the hijynx they get into were some of the hi-lights of the film. For what it is, Office Christmas Party has a serviceable screenplay, solid direction, and a very likeable cast. There is nothing about this film that should turn anyone away, but it just plays it too safe. There are many laughs to be had, but nothing too memorable. Overall, Office Christmas Party is a forgettable good time that I recommend if you are not looking to be moved at the cinema this holiday season. It is a very easy watch.
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