Office Christmas Party: Film Review
Cast: TJ Miller, Jennifer Aniston, Jason Bateman, Olivia Munn, Courtenay B Vance, Kate McKinnon
Director: Josh Gordon, Will Speck
It's the time of the year.
It's the season for excessive partying and generally letting everything fly.
So it's no surprise that Office Christmas Party looks to fill the seasonal blow-out with a comedy aimed at the fun-loving audiences seeking an R rated raunch fest.
Essentially, with a threadbare plot, it's the story of Silicon Valley star TJ Miller's Clay, who's the local branch manager of a computer company handed down to him by his father. But the company's facing tough times and when Clay's sister Carol (Jennifer Aniston in boss bitch mode, already pioneered in elements of Horrible Bosses) shows up with the threat of closing down their branch, Clay's determined to land a big client and save the day.
His plan - to woo Courtenay B Vance's Walter Davis with the biggest office bash they've ever seen - and despite Carol's refusal to let them party with redundancy around the corner...
Office Christmas Party sets its stall out early on.
It's actually quite tame in comparison to prior R Rated fare like The Hangover that wore its crudity and boorishness on its sleeve. There's a real feeling of family in the film, from the family of workers to the bickering family dynamic between Carol and Clay, and it softens proceedings from what you may be expecting.
Miller does a version of his Pied Piper CEO character Erlich Bachman, and at times, feels constrained by the script and story. (Miller's always at his best in a loose approach or improvising, and it distinctly feels like he's been reined in).
Bateman and Munn have a tentative romance brewing and dynamic that's sweet but never cloying, though equally it never feels riveting and lively, with the softness more at the fore. Bateman plays his usual laconic everyman, Munn plays a computer genius who's human, Aniston plays icy cold to perfection, and Miller gets goofball manchild down pat.
But there's little zing where there could be more - and even when the party kicks in, the chance to ramp up the raunch is squandered. It should have been more Crass-mas than anything else.
It ends up once again being a film that's stolen by Ghostbusters star Kate McKinnon's performance. This time, she's an uptight oddball HR rep who's determined to squash the fun, while secretly harbouring a desire to be involved.
In among the awkward moments and the obligatory pushing the attempts to make this Project X in an Office block, Office Christmas Party never quite fully hits the vibe it should. Sidelined by the sweetness and stunted by the lack of some strong frat elements and not enough laugh out loud gags, this is, unfortunately, one Office Christmas Party that delivers a hangover and needed many more of the boozy highs.