Sunday, December 17, 2017

Office Christmas Party

Movie Name: Office Christmas Party
Year of Release: 2016
Director: Josh Gordon, Will Speck
Stars: Jason Bateman, Olivia Munn, T.J. Miller, Jennifer Aniston, Kate McKinnon, Courtney B. Vance, Jillian Bell, Rob Corddry, Vanessa Bayer, Randall Park, Sam Richardson, Karan Soni, Jamie Chung, Abbey Lee
Genre: Comedy
Score out of ten (whole numbers only): 3
View Trailer

Directors Josh Gordon and Will Speck made a name for themselves with a few successful comedies, in particular the Will Ferrell/Jon Heder vehicle, "Blades of Glory". "Office Christmas Party" focuses on the story of Josh Parker, the CTO for a tech company by the name of Zenotek. While the company is getting ready for their Christmas party, they receive the visit of interim CEO Carol, who visits the Chicago branch to specifically tell them (and her brother, who runs that branch), that she's cutting 40% of the jobs there (and will potentially close off that branch as well). Her brother Clay, Josh, and the lead developer Tracey, manage to convince her to give them an opportunity to lure a big client who is browsing for a new company to provide them with some technical solutions. They invite the prospective client to their office party, where things rapidly escalate to chaos, soon involving a small group of employees trying to rescue and save Clay.
"Office Christmas Party" is a film that tries to build a bridge with the audience by presenting a premise that is all too familiar: the imminent demise of a company and potential layoffs. The screenplay peppers that scenario with a variety of subplots, including sibling rivalry, personal responsibility and maturity, being able to follow one's instincts, all of that topped with debauchery. The main issue with the film doesn't lie in the fact that it works with well known cliches (even "National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation" had tangential plot points), but the way it does so little to subvert them. The film tries to create humor by escalating the insanity of the situations, and by placing the lead characters in fish out of water situations, but it only manages to be successfully funny when talented performers such as Kate McKinnon, actually have an opportunity to do something with their characters. It's a film that tries too hard to be funny, without providing enough satirical moments. It manages to salvage itself due to Jason Bateman's always on point performance, and the bits where Kate McKinnon and Vanessa Bayer have a chance to shine. Instantly forgettable.