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Ah Christmas! The most wonderful time of the year just couldn’t come soon enough this year. With a year full of tragedy, hate, scandal, death and Lord knows what else I repressed throughout the year, it’s good to be close to the end of the year and to celebrate the most kindhearted holiday around. I needed this season. The nostalgic Christmas specials. The shining lights and heartwarming decorations. The relaxation that comes after a semester of stress and work. The pleasant sounds of Christmas songs ringing in my head day-in andday-out. The
cool wintery air. (Wait I live in Florida). The slightly cooler late summer air. Most of all, I needed a good laugh.
That’s why, even in a month that has Rogue One and La La Land among others playing, I chose to watch Office Christmas Party. I wanted to laugh and get in the Christmas spirit at the same time. Does the film succeed in either of those areas, or did I make the wrong move?
Office Christmas Party is an all-star holiday comedy from Paramount Pictures.
Twas the day before Christmas and all through Zenotek’s Chicago branch, all the employees are stirring. As the office makes preporations to hold their annual Christmas Eve party, their cold-hearted CEO Carol Vanstone comes to town to announce the branch is closing, bonuses are cut, and the party is cancelled. However, Carol ensures the chief technical officer, Josh Parker, that if they can secure an expensive contract with a prestigious client the branch is saved. To get the contract, the officie decides to hold the Christmas party anyway and invite their perspective partner, Walter Davis, to the party to win him over. It’s now up to Josh, branch manager Clay Vanstone, and head of tech Tracey Hughes to save the branch by throwing the best office Christmas party of all-time.
We’ve seen stories about the failing company or school who’s about to be closed/shut down but has a limited timeframe to save their company/school/thing. If you’re expecting an original plot, you’re not getting it here. However, as the film is called Office Christmas Party, I assume you realized that off the bat. The real question is whether or not the film is funny, and I’m here to say that it indeed is.
The film’s narrative goes in all the places you’d expect it to go. You can predict most of the film’s plotpoints within seconds of them being introduced. Every now and then you find a plotpoint that has an actual twist for comedy sake, but for the most part it’s a pretty straightforward story. That’s fine, though, because you can’t help but have fun while you see the plot unfold. The setup to the Christmas party is great, filled mostly with character development and introducing the crazy events that’ll take place once the party started. It’s a slow yet immersive warm-up.
The party itself turns the film into more of an anthology story with every character off doing their own thing. Each subplot ties well with the others and even crosses over at times, which helps keep this section from getting too messy. In fact, I love the fact that the subplots aren’t treated as separate stories. It allows the characters to interact with each other and solidify the film’s setting. You believe these people have been working together for a long time through those interactions. Some people are closer to each other than other, but when someone’s name is brought up, everyone knows who their talking about. If the film accomplishes one thing, it’s atmosphere.
The last third of the film takes place half at the office party and half off-location. It’s definitely the most exciting part of the movie and by far the most creative. I really love this part of the film because it’s quite frankly insane. The film switches from pseudo-anthology to focus on a single plotpoint, meanwhile a crazy subplot happens in the background. All the subplots come together, and all the characters play a part in the end goal. I’ll leave it at that in order to not give things away.
On the whole, despite its unoriginality the plot fulfills its purpose. It grabs your attention and then steadily improves in quality from there. Every section of the story compliments the next, and nothing feels unnecessary. Most importantly, it does a great job at setting up the film’s punchlines and comedic scenes.
As far as the film’s comedic quality, it’s definitely a funny movie with great moments, but it’s probably not an extraordinary experience. There are times when the film’s attempts to be funny fall a tad flat and comes off as a plot device rather than a joke. Also, due to the film’s predictability, it’s occasionally possible for some punchlines to become telegraphed. However, for every failed joke, there are at least two that successfully land. Such as with the story itself, the comedy is something that gets better as the story progresses, with the last third having the best comedic moments.
Would I call the film gutbustingly funny? Probably not. I’d say that depending on who you are this film will either be a middle of the road comedy or an above average one. Nothing fantastic, but definitely not unfunny.
A lot of the film’s comedic charm come from this film’s excellent ensemble cast. There are a ton of funny talent in this movie with roles both big and small, and no one is slouching for this movie. Where do I start?
There are about four main actors in this movie: Jason Bateman, T.J. Miller, Olivia Munn, and Jennifer Aniston. Bateman, Miller, and Munn play the three protagonists, and they do great work together. Bateman is the absolute main character of the film, making him the film’s straight-laced anchor of the group. He’s not the funniest character, but he has his moments, one of which involves an ice sculpture. Miller is the immature, loose canon boss with a heart of gold, and is awesome amounts of funny. Honestly, if I had to pick between his performance here and in Deadpool…okay I’d still pick Deadpool since the jokes are quite frankly funnier, but his performance here is much better. Olivia Munn is somewhere in between Bateman and Miller’s character; she’s grounded but has her moments of being sorta batshit. She does a fantastic job in this movie, and even has one of my favorite jokes in the movie.
Then of course there’s Jennifer Aniston, the film’s antagonist (for lack of a better word). If she’s not considered the antagonist, then she’s just one evil lady. Aniston gives the best performance in the film by far. She’s not in the film that long — maybe a collective half hour on screen — but I loved every second of how cold-hearted and mean she was here. She also has good scenes opposite Miller and Bateman.
From there you have a ton of secondary characters doing there own thing throughout the film. The best performance of the bunch is definitely Kate McKinnon. She can technically be considered a main protagonist since she plays a huge role later in the film, but she doesn’t for like two-thirds of the movie. No matter, she was excellent and has a good bunch of the film’s good jokes. Between Ghostbusters and here, McKinnon proves that she’s always the funniest one in the room.
Other standout performances include Courtney B. Vance as the prospective business partner, Jillian Bell as an emotionally unstable pimp, and Karen Soni as a passive aggressive tech guy who hires a prostitute to impress his two coworkers. I can go on listing familiar names, but the consensus is still the same. Everyone did a good job in this movie. You can tell everyone was having a good time working on this movie. They’re comedic energy is definitely felt and elevates this movie into something worthwhile.
I definitely like the film’s set design. Not only is the main office the film is based in huge and beautiful looking, but it also decorates nicely. When those halls are decked it looks a lot more like a night club than an office building, as if it was meant for a big awesome Chrsitmas party. If what the characters are saying doesn’t put you in the Christmas spirit, the setting will definitely set the mood.
The music is pretty good throughout. The score is generic up beat holiday music with dance oriented pop and hip-hop tracks towards the middle. Nothing great, but thankfully nothing distracting as some pop and hip hop songs can get during movies.
Everything else from the editing to the camerawork and sound mixing checks out fine. Very good production value overall.
Office Christmas Party may not be anything particularly special, but it’s entertaining. The film isn’t the funniest thing in the world, but it’s far from unfunny. The story isn’t anything great, but it’s compelling enough for what it is. And there are a ton of better Christmas comedies out there, but it’s still a very fun watch. As I said, the cast really makes this movie, and I’d be remisced to say this wasn’t worth watching at least once.
Im pretty sure anyone who enjoyed the trailers or are fans of any of the cast members will have a good time watching this film. The only caveat to that is to make sure your expectations are in check. You expect too much of this movie, and you’ll walk out disappointed. It’s one of those film’s that’s exactly as advertised. No tricks, no twists, no bullshit. If you have any reservations about this movie, go ahead and wait for it to come to DVD or TV.
With that said, I hope you guys have/had a very Merry Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanza, or what have you! I’ll try to have one more post for you guys before the new year, but hope you guys enjoyed this review and your holiday.
I’m SBox180. Thanks for reading!