#REVIEW: “OFFICE CHRISTMAS PARTY”
Review by David Baldwin for Mr. Will Wong
Clay Vanstone (T.J. Miller) runs the Chicago branch of his dad’s nationwide server company. His sister Carol (Jennifer Aniston) is the CEO of the company, and is looking to shut Clay’s underperforming branch down just before the holidays. But if Clay and his Chief Technical Officer Josh (Jason Bateman) can lock down a big account in less than 24 hours, Carol will keep the branch running. With this in mind, Clay begins planning an epic Christmas party – which gets out of hand all too quickly.
If you have seen the trailers for Office Christmas Party, then you already know the set-up comes secondary to how ridiculous and outrageously-hilarious the titular party becomes. There is no stone that goes unturned here when it comes to interoffice politics, and the film does a good job playing out some of the same kind of office satire Office Space mined nearly 20 years ago. It gets kind of silly in a few instances, but I found myself laughing harder and harder as the Film went on. The Film’s only real weakness comes when it slows down a bit too hard in the Third Act, shifting focus from the party to some drunken antics Clay finds himself in. These overly predictable moments still deliver some laughs, but they struggle to match the ideas and the pacing that came before them.
While Bateman and Aniston play out archetypes they have perfected over the past decade, Office Christmas Party really thrives in its ability to let its supporting cast shine and overshadow the leads. Rob Corddry, Karan Soni, Workaholics’ Jillian Bell, SNL’s Vanessa Bayer, Fresh Off the Boat’s Randall Park, recent Emmy winner Courtney B. Vance and even more scene-stealing players you will immediately recognize have a blast hamming it up and being increasingly ridiculous as the film goes on, no matter what bizarre thing the script asks them to do. 2016 MVP Kate McKinnon is a total riot as an HR lead, and easily gets the best jokes in the Film. Miller is great as well, finally getting the chance to unleash the humour he has only been able to hint at as a supporting character for so long.
And I would be remiss to not mention how the usually mediocre Olivia Munn is rather charming and funny in her pivotal role as engineer Tracey Hughes. I just wish her chemistry with Bateman was better – but it is not her fault that it falls so flat.
Office Christmas Party is an enjoyable romp through an event that all too many people will identify with. It is genuinely hilarious and laugh out loud in some instances, and the best jokes do a great job compensating for the Film’s shortcomings. It may not be a future classic, but it will surely brighten up any of your Christmas blues.
Paramount Pictures Canada release OFFICE CHRISTMAS PARTY on Friday, December 9, 2016.