Sometimes, whether you like a movie can be all about expectations. If you're walking into an Adam Sandler movie expecting an Oscar-winning picture, you will probably hate it. If you know that the guys that did Blades of Glory (where someone gets their head chopped off by ice skates for laughs) were directing something called Office Christmas Party, you’d probably expect the end result to be stupid. You’d be so on the money that I’d suggest predicting the lottery. 

    Clay (T.J. Miller in a stand-out role) is a lovable man-child who also happens to run a company he inherited from his father. He prides himself in treating employees well, even if it comes at a significant financial cost. His sister Carol (Jennifer Aniston, playing the one-note bitch) is the CEO of said company and wants shut it down before it becomes a financial liability. This disagreement climaxes in a literal fight in their office where apparent Krav-Maga expert Carol beats her own brother up; clearly, this is something that lives in the ridiculous.

    But there’s a catch. If Clay can get the business of rich man Walter Davis (Courtney B. Vance), the company can be saved. So he tries the easy way with assistants Josh (Jason Bateman) and Tracey (Olivia Munn), which is a meeting at a hotel. When that fails, he falls back on his frat boy mentality to suggest that they throw the greatest work party ever to get his support.

    In no way could this ever work right? How can somebody sell their work place as a glorified slutty bar and  get the business of someone so uptight as Walter? Simple, give him some cocaine.

    You know where we’re going here. Office Christmas Party is that drunk guy that shows up to a mixer, and just when you think he couldn’t do anything stupider, he does. Some would find him offensive and call security, but I would rather stand there and laugh.

    What does that say about me? Susan Wloszczyna on rogerebert.com says in her review that “Hey, if anything here makes you smile, go for it.” I don’t mind if I do. I enjoyed watching people suck egg nog from a frozen penis. I thought it was funny when Davis seriously injured himself while attempting to swing with holiday lights. I especially thought it was amusing when people where using the 3D printer to make copies of their penises.

    That’s all horrible humor that turns the mundane nature of the office on it’s head, and while it wasn’t a classic, I thought it was amusing enough for the eight dollars I paid. 

    I just wish that the filmmakers hadn’t moved away from that. You see, Office Christmas Party winds up being about everything but the title after a certain point. Clay is kidnapped by a local pimp (Jillian Bell, who deserves more movie roles), which makes Josh and Tracey team up with Carol and a stuffy HR woman (Kate McKinnon) to rescue him.  The pimp comes into the picture when a co-worker uses her service to hire an escort, meaning an amusing side gag suddenly becomes the main focal point of the movie. 

    From there, you have corporate types invading dangerous parties and car crashes that cause the entire city of Chicago to suffer a black out. Basically, the movie is raising the bar for ridiculousness again, except this time it’s not in a good way. 

    The cast all does their best to elevate the so-so script, which somehow has a happy ending despite everyone having caused more destruction than a WWE match. I thought it was good that Office Christmas Party tapped into the anxiety we all feel in our jobs and how said party allows them to relieve all of that, and honestly would’ve liked to see more of that rather than Jennifer Aniston beating up gangsters.

    My screen-writing professor told us that when he writes movies, he has a post-it note of the story’s theme so he doesn’t forget it while working. I think Office Christmas Party’s writer’s should’ve reminded themselves of the film’s title before they made such an awkward transition. Remember what the audience is coming for.

Published by Jagger Czajka