Described and packaged as the raunchy, R-rated festive film that mature audiences have been waiting to laugh at and be disgusted by for years, Office Christmas Party never manages to live up to this label.
Yet, at the same time, it also possesses more than enough laughs to suffice, and keep things ticking over smoothly. It's just a shame that none of the jokes are strong enough to make Office Christmas Party memorable, and instead they're quips, lines, and gags that you immediately chuckle at but then just as quickly forget.
The titular Office Christmas Party is for the Chicago branch of Zenotek, who are in dire straights after the new CEO of the company, Carol Vanstone (Jennifer Aniston), arrives into town to reveal that she's going to close down the office, which just so happens to be run by her hard-partying brother Clay (T.J. Miller).
Clay and his Chief Technical Officer, Josh Parker (Jason Bateman), are given a life line, though, after Carol reveals that the office will stay open if they can convince Walter (Courtney B. Vance), a potential client, to sign to Zenotek. After their initial pitch fails, Josh, Clay and Tracey (Olivia Munn) decide to appeal to Walter's old school sensibilities by throwing a huge office holiday rager, which soon gets out of hand.
One of the main issues with Office Christmas Party is that it never hits the debaucherous heights that it should. Sure there are some impressive and amusing shots of the office getting out of control, the lobby inundated with attempted partiers, and a montage of violence and mayhem, but it never reaches a zenith or point where you find yourself genuinely taken aback. Plus, the film's mass marketing campaign and trailers have, once again, already revealed the best parts of the comedy.
Thankfully Office Christmas Party is brimming with comedic talent, who are able to provide every scene with at least one moment where you smile. Jason Bateman again showcases why he's the go-to straight man in the genre, providing a backbone to the comedy that keeps everything in place while also gaining laughs with his subtle reactions.
T.J. Miller bounces off Bateman, Jennifer Aniston, and Courtney B. Vance delightfully, with the latter particularly reveling once he kicks into full on party mode. Kate McKinnon, Olivia Munn, Jillian Bell, Vanessa Bayer, Rob Corddry, Randall Park, and Matt Walsh chime in and create laughs, too. But while you're having a fun enough time, the film never builds to anything. It tries, but its final act in a brothel and with a car chase doesn't pick up the pace or grip as intended.
It also doesn't help that Office Christmas Party's various sub-plots only get in the way of the film's chaos, as the three romantic angles (Josh & Tracey, Fred & Allison, and Nate's hired girlfriend) and the sibling rivalry between Clay & Carol never merge in smoothly with the main thrust of trying to save the business, which goes awry.
In the end, while Office Christmas Party doesn't possess the requisite amount of belly laughs to become a festive comedy staple its stellar cast still pack in enough chortles to make it enjoyable.
By Mike Reyes
By Mike Reyes
By Dirk Libbey