|TJ Miller decides that a year end blow out is needed to finally kill 2016.|
"It's not a Christmas Party. It's a non-denominational holiday mixer."
Off the top of my head, there are a plenty few parties that I've seen on film that I wish I'd been a part of. Pops interrupting the music in House Party, McLovin's adventures in Superbad, Frank the Tank's streaking through the quad in Old School, "The beer has turned bad!" antics of William in Can't Hardly Wait, "I'm on drugs!" from Almost Famous, and Stifler's "Suck me, Beautiful!" from American Pie. I know that some of you would love to bring up scenes from Animal House or Bachelor Party, etc., but those were before my time. These picks of mine were from my impressionable late teens and twenties. They have moments that have stuck with me always, and give me a diabolical smirk every time I think about them. Some of today's party flicks have a memorable rhythm (Hot Tub Time Machine, Neighbors), but most are gimmick filled moments lost to the moment's trend (Project X, Spring Breakers).
This party movie (I know it cause "Party" is in the title) is more on the trend side, which is of course disappointing. The trend that I'm talking about, is where nearly all of the best moments from the previews are the best parts of the film. Office Christmas Party is also the victim of trying to do too many things with too many characters. Because of all of the jumping around between Jason Bateman (Horrible Bosses), T.J. Miller (Deadpool), Jennifer Aniston (We're the Millers), Olivia Munn (Mortdecai), Vanessa Bayer (SNL), Kate McKinnon (Masterminds), Karan Soni (Deadpool), and a handful of minor players, there's less emphasis on the party itself, and more on trying to set these characters up. The problem with that approach, is that the movie never feels like it has taken off. Think Dinner for Schmucks, but with the dinner happening in spurts instead of coming at the end. The jumping around is the cinematic equivalent of a record scratch that keeps interrupting the fun.
There is plenty of fun though. Even as I was put off by the film's erratic pacing, there was always something every minute or so that would have me giggling. Bateman is always good as the straight man, but his predictable relationship tension with Olivia Munn and her dumb subplot about a business saving technology, takes away from the whole party dynamic. Aniston has the movie's strongest role, yet I can only take her being an asshole for so long before wanting to spank her in a non-sexual way. Miller and McKinnon are the by far Party's strongest assets. Miller is the same guy from Silicon Valley and many other comedies, which is perfect for this with his energy. McKinnon is so damn good at facial gestures and her playful style, that she always leaves me wanting more. Courtney B. Vance (The Last Supper) in a rare comedy appearance, goes all out as if he's making up for lost time. For the most part, it works effectively well.
The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly, of Office Christmas Party
The Good- Randall Park's (The Interview) mommy fetish, Aniston puts coal in a brat's emotional stocking, Miller's obvious mouthing to McKinnon, Vance and Miller power slide for the crowd, Vance's file cabinet bounce is still hilarious (regardless of being in all of the previews), and Jillian Bell (22 Jump Street) playing a Smurfette version of a pimp.
The Bad- Soni's whole wasted storyline about pretending to have a model girlfriend, Rob Corddry (Warm Bodies) showing up here and there for whatever reason, and one security guard to handle all of that anarchy when there's a city full of cops that would have noticed it all.
The Ugly- Jimmy Butler from the Chicago Bulls showing up for a moment to validate the film's setting (Chicago). Why? Give me more of a purpose than that. Showing the Sears Tower or having some drunk unshaven asshole spouting off about "Da Bears!", would've been more effective.
Office Christmas Party works more during the "Party" scenes and less during the "Office" parts. It's like those music videos from the 90's that had cinematic intermissions between the verses; We all wanted to see Paula Abdul hook up with Keanu Reeves (Rush Rush, 1991), but we didn't want the music to stop for some pointless bantering. Keep the party going, bitches! Wait to see this on streaming, or pound some egg nog and drive to your nearest theater. Better yet, call a fat blonde chick Uber driver (Fortune Feimster, Chelsea Lately) to take you instead.
Rating- 5 out of 10
Office Christmas Party (2016)
R | 105 min | Comedy | 9 December 2016 (USA)
When his uptight CEO sister threatens to shut down his branch, the branch manager throws an epic Christmas party in order to land a big client and save the day, but the party gets way out of hand...
Directors: Josh Gordon, Will Speck
Writers: Justin Malen (screenplay), Laura Solon (screenplay),
Stars: Jason Bateman, Olivia Munn, T.J. Miller