For the full Movie Bears Podcast review of ‘Office Christmas Party,’ check out the video below or read on for our mini-review!
It’s inevitable around this time of year: your boss sends around the same boring memo inviting everyone to the mandatory office Christmas party, an HR-approved slogfest stuffed with non-alcoholic beverages, disappointing white elephant gift exchanges, and having to listen to Karen from Accounting talk about her thirteen cats. Seriously, Karen, no one cares. But what if your office Christmas party was a no-holds-barred, hedonistic rave filled with sex, drugs, and regrettable decisions? That’s the set-up for ‘Office Christmas Party,’ a new comedy starring Jason Bateman, Jennifer Aniston, TJ Miller, and an assortment of notable supporting cast members, and while the premise holds promise, the film’s humor only connects about half of the time.
Raunchy, R-rated comedies work best when they lean heavily into the subversive content, allowing shock and ewww to carry the day. At times, ‘Office Christmas Party’ allows itself to go all out, featuring cringe-worthy sequences that live up to the promise of the premise. Unfortunately, these sequences are few and far between. For every hilariously immature dick-shaped ice sculpture, there’s an exposition scene meant to advance the film’s threadbare plot. If this plot was more interesting this would be forgivable, but for the most part, it simply serves as a barrier isolating the audience from the comedic moments they crave.
Jason Bateman serves as the straight man for the film, ostensibly the character with his head most squarely on his shoulders, supplying wry observations of the calamity unfolding around him. Bateman is no stranger to this role, having launched the modern era of his career off of the archetype of his Michael Bluth role in ‘Arrested Development.’ Sadly, this archetype feels stale and pointless in the context of world the film tries to build. Instead, it is TJ Miller’s role of the dopey, well-meaning branch manager that provides whatever semblance of heart this film strives for. To his credit, Miller strikes a fine balance between humor and sincerity. To the film’s credit, Miller is given a limited amount of screen time, and less truly does become more with this character.
The true stars of the film are the supporting cast members, character actors like Kate McKinnon, Jillian Bell, and Courtney B. Vance who are allowed to tackle their comedic roles without restraint. Had the film tossed aside the clunky and formulaic plot and focused more on the insanity this talented cast brought to the table, perhaps it would have been more effective. As it is, ‘Office Christmas Party’ is certainly a passable way to enjoy a few laughs at the movies. It isn’t perfect, and we struggle to even consider it good, but it does the trick if a quick, disposable laugh is what you need to get through the stress of the holidays.
Written by Will Lindus, Movie Bears Podcast