Wednesday, 14 December 2016

Office Christmas Party

I've always been a fan of the Christmas stoner comedy. Last year's The Night Before was a step above in terms of finding the original concept. With this one, I had high hopes. We've all been to corporate Christmas parties that are one step away from becoming actually enjoyable events and Office Christmas Party takes that to the extreme. However, it shoots itself in the foot by becoming too overcrowded with storylines that aren't at all funny.

The Chicago branch of tech company Zenotek has failed to show any growth in the last quarter, so acting CEO Carol Vanstone (Jennifer Aniston) has threatened to cut forty percent in order to make the branch profitable. She also wants to cancel the annual Christmas party as she considers it an unnecessary use of corporate funds. Her brother Clay (TJ Miller) doesn't want any of his workers to lose their jobs, so he enlists his Chief Technical Officer Josh (Jason Bateman) and his head of tech Tracey (Olivia Munn) to court businessman Walter Davis (Courtney B. Vance) into investing in the company. It turns out the only way to get him to do this is by throwing the best Christmas party ever.

As with all comedy movies, it really comes down to how well the actors are able to perform the jokes. That's the one thing that Office Christmas Party really has going for it. All of the major players have had a career built on performing comedy in one medium or another so there is no one dropping the ball. I've been really impressed with diversity that Jennifer Aniston has been showing in her comedic roles lately. They haven't just been the same thing over and over and her Grinch-esque Carol is a very fun character. I find TJ Miller can sometimes overshadow his costars with his over the top performances, but this time he shares the wealth, being the giving time of the year and all. Kate McKinnon's performance was wonderful as always and she is always able to find particular traits for her characters that are just bizarre and perfect. Despite Jason Bateman once again playing Jason Bateman, I am so comfortable with his character at this stage. He and Olivia Munn have great chemistry too.

The problem with this flick though is that it is way too crowded. Every character that is introduced is given too much character. There's no "here's this accountant character", instead we have to be shown that he has a weird baby fetish (Randall Park does at least try and make it funny). The characters also just end up as stereotypes of people you find in the office and that wears a bit thin quickly. There are too many plot strands as well. Instead of just having the main plot, there's also Jillian Bell's pimp character who is trying to steal everyone's money and something about wifi being accessed everywhere. While they all tie in at the end, the third part of the movie is just distracting and kind of boring.

This is a hard one. If you're a fan of movies like this, as I am, you'll watch it and think this better than you expected. If you wanted a light Christmas comedy, it's probably not for you. Office Christmas Party has a strange intense energy. It's laid on heavy with the jokes and (surprising) destruction with a good mix of hopeful and cynical characters.

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