It’s exactly what you’d think it would be… but it’s still not what you’d want.
Office Christmas Party is yet another blip in a long line of soulless Christmas themed movies, and with so many specific references to the year 2016, it currently has a shelf life of about 9 days.
Zenotek employee, Josh (Jason Bateman) must convince client Walter (Courtney B. Vance), to work for the company. To impress him, Josh, alongside careless branch manager, Clay (T.J. Miller) and unnecessary love interest, Tracey (Olivia Munn), must throw the most amazing Christmas party ever. Wackiness ensues. Also, please don’t ask what Josh’s specific job title is or even what Zenotek does. It doesn’t matter.
If it wasn’t obvious by the film’s blunt title, the party is the star of the show, serving as a continuously chaotic backdrop to the main character’s scenes. It also allows for quick cutaways to re-energize the viewing experience, like slapping yourself to try and stay awake. I begrudgingly accept that Office Christmas Party is essentially a Jackass movie, with a plot sauntering through the mayhem, but the story, characters and even the jokes are too half-hearted for anything to truly succeed.
Virtually no obstacle or progression is directly caused by the characters, with every event being an inadvertent action instigated by unrelated characters. Whether it’s Josh and Tracey accidentally locking themselves on the roof, unrelated weather delays or Walter being blasted by a cloud of cocaine, the story is as aimless as the party it haphazardly orbits.
It wasn’t until the end of the climactic car chase that I realised that, without any of the party’s spectacle, there is literally nothing holding the movie up. Even Jennifer Aniston’s engaging portrayal of cold Zenotek CEO, Carol Vanstone, is but a mildly bright star atop a pine tree that’s decorated with shattered glass, urine and a 3D printed penis model. The story ends as soon as the party does, forcing the movie to pitifully crawl its way to the finish line.
What could have been a clever and snarky office comedy was instantly ruined with its obligation to be shocking. The gross-out humour had my cinema in constant laughter and groans, so it obviously has its audience, but that doesn’t excuse a messy story amid an unrealistically apocalyptic party. Either it was a ridiculous exaggeration of what office parties are like, or I just hang out with shy nerds. Probably both.
Office Christmas Party is available in Australian cinemas from December 8th
Image courtesy of eOne Films