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Office Christmas Party is the new shenanigans comedy directed by Will Speck and Josh Gordon (The Switch) and stars frequent collaborators Jason Bateman and Jennifer Aniston. The title pretty much tells you what you need to know about the plot… or two or three.
Clay Vanstone (T.J. Miller) runs the underperforming Chicago branch of the national tech company. When the CEO, who also happens to be Clay’s sister Carol (Aniston) comes by and threatens layoffs, Clay along with his best friend, chief technical officer Josh (Bateman), try to find a quick way for everyone to keep their jobs. When they find out that the super successful internet buyer Walter Davis (Courtney B. Vance) is in town, they set up a meeting to convince him to sign on. Walter says no due to the rumors of low employee morale that he’s heard about. Clay and Josh set out to disprove this theory and invite Walter to their annual company Christmas party, where everything predictably gets completely out of hand.
This is a really complicated reason to have an office Christmas party, and the subplots make it even more complicated, which include a”romance” between Bateman and his employee (a miscast Olivia Munn), a tech manager (Karan Soni) who hires a prostitute to pretend to be his girlfriend, and an overzealous HR manager (Kate McKinnon). It would probably be pretty boring just to make a movie about a crazy office party, but in movies like this it seems like the filmmakers don’t think the lead story line funny, so here are some alternatives for you to choose from because each of the supporting characters gets a lot of screentime.
Also, in movies like this, when you have this many funny people together, you really relying on them just being quirky and doing weird things instead of making an actual joke. It’s not all bad, some of it is funny but the humor is not universal, so it won’t be invoking a big laugh in a crowded theater. Some of the writing is just plain lazy, for example, in the trailer Kate McKinnon’s character farts when she gets nervous and has to explain that she farts when she’s nervous as a humorous reaction to a tense moment. Can’t you give me a little more than farting? No setup, no punchline, just an awkward fart?
Office Christmas Bad is not bad, but films like this I find are just funnier when you watch them at home. Jason Bateman’s character, much like many characters he plays, has a dry sense of humor. Unless he is in a movie where the whole cast has dry humor, the audience is not going to appreciate many of his jokes. He is funny! Even though T.J. Miller’s Clay character is completely over the top, he is the funniest when he is not actively in one of his major pratfalls. The office Christmas party itself goes from 0 to 100 without any rhyme or reason. It just swells and the audience goes along for the ride.
Office Christmas Party is a light recommend but wait for the Blu-ray release.