Thursday, 8 December 2016

'Office Christmas Party' Review (2016): Office Space X

Half Price: Some jokes work more than others, but the movie is so light on the party itself, it just feels half baked.
For many people, the annual office Christmas party is a droll experience. No one really wants to be there, and it somehow turns the joyous event of Christmas, into a sad lonely affair. ‘Office Christmas Party’ is for those people. It’s an escapist fantasy that brings the reckless and wild goings on of ‘Project X’, to the cubicle rebellion of ‘Office Space’.

The story follows the company of Xenotech. It doesn’t really matter what the company does, all that matter is Clay, played by the irreverent TJ Miller runs a failing branch of it. After his big sister Carol, played by Jennifer Aniston, threatens to shut down his business, Clay decides to throw the Christmas party to end all Christmas parties. He hopes that his efforts will win the interest of an investor, save his company, and the jobs of all his employees in the process.

Your secret Santa gift is: Job security!
‘Office Christmas Party’ does its job well. It has characters that fit the people you see in an everyday work environment, and it tries to put them in funny situations. Those situations can be low brow, like the HR person who uncontrollably farts in nervous situations, or they can be quite clever, with quips that play on the frustrations of office politics. With jokes that range from the silly to the cerebral, ‘Office Christmas Party’ never loses its genuine voice, making it feel like in the writers room, all jokes were created equal.

Unfortunately it seems like ‘Office Christmas Party’ had too many ideas in that room. Many a time in the movie reference will be made to something happening at the party that is infinitely more interesting than watching Jason Bateman & co. fumble around trying to arrange for their company to be saved. Truthfully, while the segments of the Christmas party you do see have some genuinely laugh out loud moments, the movie treats it as an afterthought, rather than the main event.

I feel bad disparaging the movie for focusing on plot rather than spectacle, but honestly, spectacle has its purpose. I definitely appreciated everything the film was trying to say about downsize culture, and sanitization of office relations. It never delivered these ideas through preaching and everytime they were touched on, it felt natural. That said, the movie presents the Christmas party as its stand against those very things, yet keeps you away from the party. You feel like the guy running the party, making sure everyone's having a good time, but never at the party yourself.

A feeling I know all too well
The movie did make me laugh, and I never felt like any of the talent in the cast was wasted. Everyone was on point, and had characters tailor made for their abilities. Who else could play the middle aged man frustrated at being told what he can or cannot say without feeling creepy than Rob Corddry. I also loved Kate McKinnon as Corddry's adversary. Her uptight HR woman is mainly there to be a buzzkill, but McKinnon is a riot, even when she's supposed to be sucking the fun out of everything.

Kate McKinnon. So talented she'll make a still image feel like a GIF. 
To say that ‘Office Christmas Party’ was a satisfying experience, is only a half truth. While it definitely is firing on all cylinders, doesn’t always hit its target. It’s definitely a movie enhanced by a cinema viewing with a big audience, and it has enough in it to feel that escapism it tries to deliver. Just don’t be surprised if you end up wanting to leave the party early.

Rating: Half Price

This isn't the first R rated comedy of the year, but it's far from the best. We looked at some of our favourites ever on the podcast:


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