Right off the bat, the title Office Christmas Party is politically incorrect. Isn’t holiday the correct word? If you are offended, don’t worry. It’s the least offensive thing you’ll see in a movie packed with offenses.
Party films haven’t changed much since the advent of the genre. For most, Animal House in 1978 is tabbed as our first experience. The last would be Neighbors in 2014 and the Neighbors sequel this year. So it’s no surprise that Office Christmas Party looks pretty much like every other party movie. Or as the old Dragnet TV show used to say, only the names have been changed to protect the innocent.
That is if the actors in a party movie or those making one can make the innocence claim. Making a movie is a rather deliberate affair.
This version of the party formula has a holiday theme and casts Jason Bateman as Josh, who is Clay Vanstone’s best friend and the chief technical officer of the Chicago branch of Clay’s technology company. Profits aren’t what Clay’s shark CEO sister thinks they should. So she pops into town a few days before Christmas to shut the company down.
Clay and Josh try to stave off the company’s collapse by grabbing a multimillion-dollar contract. Clay’s sister says she’ll change her mind if they succeed. To impress the man with the contract, they throw a party to end all parties — against the sister’s instructions.
Joining Bateman is Jennifer Aniston and T.J. Miller (Deadpool). The producers pack the supporting character parts with Saturday Night Live stars. Kate McKinnon — who plays the rule-addicted human resources manager — is the only one of the SNL group to have a big role.
McKinnon is as irritating here as she was in the Ghostbusters remake.
Office Christmas Party is the brainchild of The Hangover creators and writers Jon Lucas and Scott Moore and Pixels co-writer Timothy Dowling. The so-called comedy — as expected — has revelry, drunkenness, drug use, nudity and sex. Like its predecessors, Office Christmas Party has just four real laughs, placed in the most predictable of spots and has more in common with the awful Hangover sequels than the original.
Office Christmas Party
Director: Josh Gordon, Will Speck
Stars: Jason Bateman, Jennifer Anniston, T.J. Miller, Olivia Munn, Kate McKinnon, Courtney B. Vance, Rob Corddry, Jillian Bell, Vanessa Bayer, Ben Falcone
Mr. Movie rating: Rated R for mature themes, brief nudity and language. It’s playing at Regal’s Columbia Center 8, The Fairchild Cinemas Queensgate 12 and Walla Walla Grand Cinemas.
5 stars to 4 1/2 stars: Must see on the big screen.
4 stars to 3 1/2 stars: Good film, see it if it’s your type of movie.
3 stars to 2 1/2 stars: Wait until it comes out on DVD.
2 stars to 1 star: Don’t bother.
0 stars: Speaks for itself.