‘Office Christmas Party’ as Fun as Real Company Gathering

office_christmas_partyFinally, a film that features the excitement of an actual office Christmas party, but with all the laughs of an actual office Christmas party (so to say not much of either).

“Office Christmas Party” is about exactly what its title would suggest and features an ensemble cast (including Jason Bateman, Olivia Munn, T. J. Miller, Kate McKinnon and Jennifer Aniston) and follows a group of office workers who set out to throw the greatest Christmas party ever in order to impress a client. Josh Gordon and Will Speck direct.

I’m always down for a Christmas movie, as I begin every holiday film review with (including last month’s more fun and festive “Almost Christmas”); even the bad movies tend to have some sort of charm and watchability. However “Office Christmas Party” continuously tries it’s hardest to break that rule, as it isn’t funny enough to justify its stupidity and never gets crazy enough to jump the shark.

The cast seems to be trying their best with the recycled material. Jason Bateman, who God bless him gives 100% in every film, does his deadpan thing and has something resembling romantic chemistry with Olivia Munn, who is funny in her own right. Jennifer Aniston plays the shrill, jerk boss, a role that reestablished her place on the comedy map in 2011’s “Horrible Bosses,” but it doesn’t get many laughs here. The rest of the cast gets lost in the massive billing list, with only occasional standout moments from smaller characters, including Sam Richardson and Vanessa Bayer.

Kate McKinnon pretty much plays her SNL Hillary Clinton character and just like with “Ghostbusters” people will either find her hilarious or trying too hard. Comedy is subjective, but she just isn’t funny here; juvenile faces and shrieking just aren’t amusing.

The problem with “Office Christmas Party” is as crazy and out of hand the gathering gets, it never fully commits to the ludicrously of the situation. Something like “Project X” continuous to get bigger and bigger, ending with riot gear, a flamethrower and jumping off roofs.  “Christmas Party” has swinging from balconies and speeding in cars (along the apparently empty streets of Chicago) but it feel relatively grounded, which just isn’t fun.

There are a few fun moments and occasional bits and pieces of holiday joy, but the whole thing feels chopped up and stitched together and never really feels like it’s building up to anything.

No one saw the trailer for “Office Christmas Party” and thought it was destined to become a classic, but that it produces so few hard laughs is a bit of a disappointment. It isn’t so bad that I would say never watch it, if in a year or two it’s on TV then grab some eggnog and put it on in the background, but I could never morally tell anyone to spend $10 to see it in theaters. If you want a crazy holiday film go rewatch “A Very Harold and Kumar Christmas;” if you are dying to see something festive on the big screen, see if “Almost Christmas” is still playing near you.

Critics Rating: 4/10

Paramount Pictures

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