When CEO Carol Vanstone (Jennifer Aniston) tries to close her hard-partying brother Clay’s (T.J. Miller) branch, he and his chief technical officer, Josh Parker (Jason Bateman), must rally their co-workers and host an epic office Christmas party in an effort to impress a potential client Walter Davis (Courtney B. Vance) and close a sale that will save their jobs.
It’s almost Christmas so that means more Christmas films so here’s another one with Office Christmas party. This one isn’t quite like the others, however, as it features several comedy heavyweights such as Jason Bateman, Jennifer Aniston, Kate McKinnon, and T.J. Miller among many others. The only potential problem is that with the cast it has, there is a potential that some will end up wasted as most plots can’t possibly accommodate everyone. This was the case here as some of these actors were relegated to mostly background characters that didn’t matter in the grand scheme of things.
Clay hosts the party because he wants to prove himself to everyone the only way he knows how. Of course the party doesn’t quite go as expected (obviously since it wouldn’t be much of a comedy if it did). The party gave employees the opportunity to let loose and be themselves. The party pretty much went as expected, if the R-rating is any indication. Expect lots of drinking, drugs, nudity, the usual stuff. The humor wasn’t exactly the most original in this regard and provided slightly more hits than misses. The premise leading to this may or may not have been the strongest but the film could have gone much further with the party aspect as it should have been more of a focus. The party felt more in the background.
The best part of the film is a tie between Carol and Clay and an overzealous HR employee named Mary (Kate McKinnon). Carol and Clay have a strenuous relationship. She resents him for not having to work hard for his success. She only sees him as a spoiled man-child who was treated better than he deserved. She cares about their company and wants so desperately to be the CEO which is why she acts the way she does (and probably taking it too far sometimes), consisting mostly of keeping Clay in check. An incident involving a child at an airport is the best example of this.
Mary is an uptight HR employee who always got into people’s business, trying to minimize any offensive interactions. The party didn’t exactly make her the most comfortable as she tried to maintain some sense of civility but as she began to let loose, we learned that she was just as bad as the rest of them. She was funny throughout, often stealing scenes, but she shined mostly in the last half of the film.
Maybe since the film didn’t think the party could sustain the whole film, it threw a few more nothing subplots in. One of them included giving Josh a love interest in a fellow employee named Tracey Hughes (Olivia Munn). Josh and Tracey were the most normal characters in the film, kind of acting as a counter-balance to all the other craziness. This attraction grew from working closely together with Josh never telling Tracey how he felt about her. Their relationship did not come off as believable since its lack of focus didn’t allow them to develop chemistry. The other one involved a prostitute named Savannah (Abbey Lee) and a pimp named Trina (Jillian Bell) which don’t go anywhere.
Despite wasting most of the cast, the acting was good throughout. Bateman’s Josh was just like most Bateman characters, a witty everyman which still works here but didn’t make him stand out as much as he could have. The same thing is the case with Miller’s Clyde, an oblivious man-child for whom the film tried to give some more depth. This worked too and some of his antics were fun but just like Bateman, he didn’t stand out as much as he could have. Their chemistry still made them fun to watch. McKinnon continues to do what she does best, which is playing crazy characters and she was great here. Aniston was good as the villain and has good chemistry with Bateman and Miller.
Overall, this is a decent holiday comedy with some laughs but wastes its cast with a mediocre story and script.
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