We all deserve a good Christmas film. Last year we had Krampus, a charming and old fashioned fantasy horror. Classics such as Die Hard and Home Alone remain as watchable as ever, but finding a good Christmas film that lives up to those titles can be a challenge, with crap like Kirk Cameron's Saving Christmas, Fred Claus, Four Christmases and the Nativity films existing. This year, new Christmas films are in short supply, with Office Christmas Party being the most advertised and obvious choice to watch for festive fun. But, is it fun, and festive, and a good film in general? Yes it is, but it's not without its flaws.
A company in jeopardy of being shutdown at Christmas decide to throw a big blazing banger to impress a potential client in order to save the dying company and its employees. That's it, the plot line is thin, albeit without a few character subplots but they don't add heft to the overarching narrative, but at Christmas, do we really need a deep, meaningful and thought-provoking story? Do I want a deep, meaningful and thought-provoking story? No, I want to see my favourite actors, of which this film is full of, have a massive party and watch things get insanely out of control. For the most part, all the above happens, but it's clear directors Josh Gordon and Will Speck struggle to get their style across, as this party film lacks the buzz and wild energy other party films like Bad Neighbours, Sisters and Project X had.
The script is quite short on one liners, clever gags and a lot of the slapstick fails to hit hard, mostly because all the physical jokes were in the trailer, and even then they failed to garner chuckles from me. The laughs work when the cast truly go all out ridiculous, especially Courtney B. Vance who delivers a very memorable turn as a tight CEO who gets buzzed from cocaine, and the results are hilarious. Two others performers who I've always found highly entertaining, Vanessa Bayer and Randall Park, are absolute gold. They share a scene together which is easily the funniest part of the movie, in which the two sneak off together to kiss, only for Bayer's character Allison to find out Park's Fred has a fetish for being objectified as child who enjoys being punished, you just have to see this.
The entire cast are solid, their performances don't require an awful lot but just to have fun and make their characters seem like office workers who are desperate to save their company and enjoy what could be their last night together. Olivia Munn is rather a suave and sexy presence, and it's nice to see the star finally get a starring role where she isn't pushed to the sidelines, like in X-Men Apocalypse. She plays a computer genius in the office, and with credibility, I'd like to see more of Munn in the future. Jason Bateman, one of my favourite actors, isn't given a whole lot of comedic material, he plays the sensible one and for someone like Bateman whose comedic chops have been proved faultless time and time again, he never gets the chance to let loose, only until the ending in a car chase. Karan Soni, Da'Vine Joy Randolph, Fortune Feimster and Abbey Lee are terrific in their supporting roles, each delivering big belly laughs involving prostitution, sassy one liners and well timed jokes that repeat themselves just at the right amount.
Jennifer Aniston is a delight as a total bitch, an uptight, cold and ruthless CEO who hates everything festive. Her krav-maga fight sequences are hilarious and brutal, I can totally see Aniston breaking arms and fighting like a pro. Overall, the cast deliver, some more than others, mostly based on the material provided. The main story itself doesn't do anything exciting, much like 2012's This Means War, the plot point is forgotten until the end, and when it's brought up again no one cares. This films plot point is regarding an app that allows internet access anywhere at anytime, and it's forgotten right up until the last five minutes of the film, and the entire scene is super rushed when it is birthed, and because it isn't given previous heft it has no impact, it feels like the writers thought "Hey, we've had the party scenes, now we should mention the app to end the film."
Now and again, Office Christmas Party delivers some solid laughs, and a few sequences that really work. The cast have fun here and there, though don't expect to be howling throughout, a few drinks may give you a bit more of joy when watching this one. The story is flat but at the end of the day, this Christmas caper is rather enjoyable and you can just sit back and watch the chaos ensue. Rating: 6.5/10