Film review: OFFICE CHRISTMAS PARTY, from ‘Built for Speed’

The raunch comedy is really just a more obscene and cynical update of the 80’s party animal comedy.  For evidence look no further than Office Christmas Party, a messy, occasionally amusing but mostly predictable excuse for juvenile comedy that features the party animal movie staples: nerds, prostitutes, comical pimps, people going nuts on coke, a laid back sensible everyman central character and ultimately an endorsement of corporate America.

Jason Bateman plays nice guy everyman Josh Parker, a tech manager at cyber storage company, Zenotech.  Apart from developing new software, his main job is babysitting his hairy hipster man-child boss Clay (TJ Miller) who inherited the Chicago branch of the company from his dad. When Clay’s uptight corporate meanie sister Carol (Jennifer Aniston) threatens to close the Chicago office, Clay, Josh and Josh’s chief software engineer Tracey (Olivia Munn) hit upon the unlikely strategy of luring a big fish potential client to an over-the-top office Christmas party thinking this will impress him into signing with Zenotech.

This ridiculous scenario is simply a springboard for Bachelor Party meets Project X hijinks as the corporate Christmas party goes completely out of control. Most of the gags revolve around idiots doing crazy stuff like snorting coke, leaping off balconies, knocking themselves silly and just about destroying the office. The gag hit rate is pretty low and a few too many times crickets could be heard in the cinema following what were supposed to be funny lies. There are also some embarrassingly crass gags involving bowel movements and an obscene egg-nog dispensing ice sculpture that should have had the cast storming off the set.

Also, as is often the case in modern comedies, there are so many sub-plots that the story becomes a collection of fragments and never adds up to a satisfying whole.

With Bateman, Aniston, Rob Corddy and others in the cast there’s enough comic talent to just get it over the line even if some of the characters such as Kate McKinnon’s uptight HR Stormtrooper don’t quite work.

Also, as the party spirals into a bacchanalian nightmare, there’s enough chaotic energy to at least keep audiences awake although inevitably and depressingly the chaotic revelry gives way to a nauseating assertion of American ingenuity and corporate power.

Office Christmas Party is pretty juvenile and familiar stuff but there are just enough amusing moments to make it tolerable.

Nick’s rating: **1/2.

Genre: Comedy.

Classification: MA15+.

Director(s): Josh Gordon, Will Speck.

Release date: 8th Dec 2016.

Running time: 105 mins.

Reviewer: Nick Gardener can be heard on “Built For Speed” every Friday night from 8-10pm right here on 88.3 Southern FM.  Nick can also be heard on “The Good, The Bad, The Ugly Film Show” podcast.

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