Saturday, June 10, 2017

Movie Reviews: Office Christmas Party

Office Christmas Party
directed by Will Speck and Josh Gordon
Good cast but mixed results in a comedy that felt rushed
This was a remarkably silly film that wasted a good cast and familiar story on over the top foolishness and crudity. There's a way to be funny and even hilarious without having to go for the grossout every chance that you get. Unfortunately every time that something which I thought was mildly humorous occurred in this movie the directors/writers apparently must have decided "We can't have that! Throw in some gay humor! Throw in some flatulence and incest jokes! Throw in a bipolar woman on her cycle jokes! Hey there's not enough male buttocks! Yeah that's better!" So for me the movie was at best uneven. It was a mashup of Office Space, DC Cab, Meet the Millers, A Christmas Carol, Major League and Horrible Bosses among others. Horrible Bosses veterans Jennifer Aniston and Jason Bateman basically reprise their roles from that film series. SNL star Kate McKinnon does okay with a role I think she could probably sleepwalk through. 

Courtney B. Vance seems to be having a good time playing the opposite of the serious sober types he normally plays. I will say though as I have mentioned before that if you are looking for someone to play the calm put upon everyman with a hidden snarky side then you should have Jason Bateman on speed dial. He really does that well. Of course I haven't seen him do too much besides that but why mess with what works?

Josh Parker (Bateman) is the Chief Technical Officer of the Chicago division of a consulting/hardware computer company. He just got divorced. Because it would be inappropriate he's never put the moves on his hot, interested and more intelligent subordinate Tracey (Olivia Munn) who is head of Research and Development. Christmas is coming up. Even though everyone thinks that Josh and Tracey would work as well together out of the office as they do in the office, the put-upon Josh just wants to get thru his meetings and go home. He doesn't want to hear about Tracey's new plans for internet access. He doesn't want to hear complaints from the uptight prudish politically correct HR head Mary (McKinnon) about how this woman's top is too low cut or how that man in the elevator was staring inappropriately at someone. In fact Josh really doesn't even want to hear about getting the Christmas spirit from his anarchic and childlike boss, Division chief Clay (T.J. Miller). Clay is all id. He doesn't care about getting the new account from financial services vendor Walter Davis (Courtney B. Vance). All he wants to do is have an even bigger Christmas party than last year.

Unfortunately for Clay's plans his branch has attracted the negative attention of the interim CEO. The interim CEO has been closely watching Clay's branch because (1) numbers are slightly down and (2) the interim CEO is Clay's sister Carol (Aniston) who is boiling over with resentment that their late Dad favored Clay and left him the Chicago office to run. Carol intends to cancel bonuses, cut pay, reduce headcount and most likely close the Chicago office. Carol would also, having mastered martial arts, like to pick up her sibling rivalry with her brother. And she most definitely does not want a Christmas party of any kind. And what Carol says goes. Carol loves any opportunity to show off her legs demonstrate her toughness and Clay's incompetence. The only way to change Carol's mind would be for Josh to come through on the sale to Walter or for Tracey to demonstrate that her internet plan is viable. And Carol doesn't see those two losers doing that in the next couple of days. So Carol makes plans to return to her underground lair of evil. But Clay is determined to have a party and save the branch no matter what sis says. For all of Clay's fecklessness he does care about his employees.

So hilarity ensues. Or not. As I said this film would have been funnier with better writing and less cliched reveals. How many times do movies show us that it's the quiet one who's really dangerous or the strait laced one who is a superfreak or that it's the two supposed losers who are destined to stop ignoring each other and fall in love. Been there, done that.

There's a fair amount of nudity and jiggling flesh on display. Much of it is male. The film has and even self-consciously references a great many racial, sexual and gender stereotypes. Some are deconstructed humorously. Most aren't. IIRC the only black woman was of course about 400 lbs. This movie was mildly funny for about the first third of its running time. After that it just started throwing stuff at the wall to see what would stick. Well some stuff fell to the floor and just sat there like smelly goose s***. Vanessa Bayer, Rob Corddry, Sam Richardson, Jillian Bell, Karan Soni, Jamie Chung, Da'Vine Joy Randolph, Abbey Lee and Randall Park also have roles.
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