I should love Office Christmas Party as I’ve established myself as a woman enamored with living vicariously through on-screen spectacles of people dancing while getting wasted. Because I know I will never have an epic party experience in my own life because I a) don’t drink and b) can’t recreate slow motion dance moves scored by Drake, I rather watch attractive actors and the magic of editing supply me with this artifice. Take Me Home Tonight is my favorite movie of all time because it allows me to experience a bomb ass party with Chris Pratt and cocaine while also being set in the 80’s, something that I can never achieve. 2015 provide us with two dope ragers with the “surprise this whole movie is a party” enjoyment of Sisters and the Seth Rogen Holiday Special that is The Night Before. OCP is trying its hardest to be a combination of the two and misses the mark at every turn whether it’s being funny, sentimental or seasonal. Though it opens strong, it’s not able to immerse me in the wild night experience or cinematically conveys it of being as great as promised.
Like the start of every movie before we can get to the juicy main event, we begin with the introduction in this case to our lead, sad sack Josh (Jason Bateman) who has just finalized his divorce. Bateman plays his usual smart alec, straight man persona which if you’re me you’ll take it but I realize others would be happy to leave it. Things ramp up once we get the grand introduction to the many characters that make up the titular office. Everyone gets their moment to shine up top and establish what larger than life personality they are, highlights being the uptight head of HR Mary (Kate McKinnon), struggling single mother Allison (Vanessa Bayer) and baller rich man-child Clay (TJ Miller) who runs the Chicago branch of the software business passed down by his father. Jennifer Aniston busts in as boss ass bitch Carol, Clay’s sister and threatens to shut down the branch if they don’t land a major deal by the next day. The believable sibling rivalry is a nice added touch to the archetype of Scrooge CEO who wants to ruin everyone’s Christmas. As a not festive person myself who also is physically strong and respects someone who doesn’t put up with shit, Aniston ruled and characters like her are crucial when Bateman and romantic interest/hacker Tracey (Olivia Munn) are so vanilla.
What a wild night of debauchery and mishaps should be is hilarious and so outrageous and exciting that you wish you could be there. The lead up is for sure fun with boardroom bickering between Clay and Carol then the party planning montage which includes Clay exhausting his contacts to try to invite Kanye (sadly no pay off on that). Laughs became fewer and far between as the lame employees get turnt on cocaine and egg nog. This is due to as the film progresses it becomes increasingly plot heavy, adding on more road blocks and caveats to the “save the company” storyline. Half the characters are too side tracked to even be at the party and we’re stuck watching random extras photocopy their butts. Sisters really exceeded at this grandiose party with the overflowing bubbly washing machine, drugged Bobby Moynihan doing Scarface impressions and bad yet brilliant choreography by Fey and Poehler. There’s nothing unique about this party and the raunchy dick jokes fall flaccid. The B plot that takes over the third act which includes 22 Jump Street stand out Jillian Bell as a pimp who takes Clay hostage, sounds amazing based on the talent alone but the script gets too involved with its action set pieces. By the end, the movie has thrown so much at you that it incorrectly assumes that we care an ounce about the imperative technical solution to saving this company. For a movie so confidently stating its premise, it finds so many ways to stray to the far reaches of the city so they don’t have to be at said party.
As much as I’ve just trampled over OCP I’ll at least say it’s trying. There is diversity in both race and gender, often something you’d be hard pressed to find in the straight white man dominated narratives of big budget comedies. As much as the jokes are crass, at least they’re not racist which I realize is a low bar I’m setting but case in point Dirty Grandpa. There’s an attempt at progressive female characters with the pimp gender swap and Tracey being the mastermind of the finale but still Carol is the stereotypically “cunty” female boss and the stale bit of a nerd hiring a prostitute as his fake girlfriend gives Neon Demon’s Abbey Lee little to work with. Even with its mini-strides Office Christmas Party fails at its attempted purpose, it is neither a new holiday classic nor a raucous hour and a half that I want to get on up in. I’m not saying it would be more time to go to an actual office Christmas party but at least there would be cake.