This is the season of egg nog, parties, twinkling lights, parades, elves on shelves, and Christmas movies playing at your local cinema. The latest film set during Christmas hoping to win over a festive feeling crowd is “Office Christmas Party”.
I will begin by saying this film is rated “R”, so you should know what you are getting into before you hit the theater. The stars Jason Bateman as Josh Parker, a Chief Tech Officer for a company called Zenotek, and T.J. Miller as his boss Clay. The film also features Jennifer Aniston as Clay’s sister Carol, the intermediate CEO for Zenotek, and Olivia Munn as Tracey, as Josh’s head of tech. The film opens with the newly divorced Josh attempting to save his branch of Zenotek after Carol threatens to close the facility due to missed quarterly quotas. In an attempt to ward of Carol’s threats, Josh, Clay and Tracey devise a plan to convince financial giant Walter Davis (Courtney B. Vance) to team with Zenotek. Carol agrees to give the trio a short window to close the deal, and tells the trio in order to save money the annual office Christmas party has been canceled.
As expected, or we would have no movie, Clay ignores his sisters demand, and plans a party to end all parties, and invites Walter to the massive event in hopes of persuading him to partner with the company. There are plenty of office “characters” on hand, including the “by the rules” Head of Human Resources Mary (Kate McKinnon), and Nate (Karon Soni), who has the girlfriend no one has ever seen. As for the party, there are tons of decorations, live animals, a “Game of Thrones” throne where Santa will sit, a huge dance floor, a snow making machine, and a controversial ice drink dispensing sculpture, all on two floors of the office building. Unfortunately the party eventually includes an professional escort, and an unexpected appearance by that infamous white powdery drug which is mistaken for the aforementioned fake snow. Walter does make it to the office party, and reveals he will not agree to a partnership with the company, and is about to depart when he accidentally comes in contact with the “snow”, which sends him into hyper mode. Meanwhile, Carol has been waiting at the Chicago airport for a flight to London, but is thwarted by a snow storm, and heads back to the office building after discovering the Christmas party has not been canceled. She has an immediate run-in with Clay, and reveals she is still closing the branch.
As if this isn’t bad enough, during the party Clay unknowingly drives away with a female pimp, and finds himself in deep trouble. Soon Josh, Mary, Tracey and Carol are off in Mary’s Kia to track down Clay. Of course, Clay is found, and because of a nearly tragic incident, makes good with his sister. In addition, due to a tech invention Tracey has come up with, the company is saved from closing. However, upon returning to the office, the group finds the offices appearing as if a tornado has swept through. Despite all the chaos, all ends well for the dysfunctional siblings and their co-workers. All the actors in the film appear to be having a blast in their roles, due in no part, I’m sure, to the foolishness at hand. Aniston’s character is like a hybrid between Joan Crawford and “Dynasty’s” Alexis Carrington, but her face is so sweet, you can never really believe she could be so mean. Frankly, Bateman’s character is one we have seen in many of his other films, so don’t expect anything new from him. The highlight, or lowlight, depending on how you feel about this film, would be T.J. Miller’s lovable but goofy Clay, who dominates all his scenes. The film is very adult oriented, and despite efforts to shock, often falls flat. I really wish Hollywood could find a way to make a holiday film as funny and classic as “Christmas Vacation”. Instead we are left with the lump of coal know as “Office Christmas Party”.
(Rated R) 2 Reindeer (out of 4)