Review: Office Christmas Party

This is a movie about a Christmas party in an office. I went into the cinema curious; how could such a premise possibly be stretched to a feature-length runtime without getting horribly boring? I’m still not convinced that it can be.

Last year, the Christmas comedy I saw was The Night Before. For that film, I implemented a “laugh counter”. It hit five. This year’s Office Christmas Party got two. Twice I laughed in one-hundred-and-five minutes.

Jason Bateman, who plays Jason Bateman in everything but is so great at being Jason Bateman that you don’t actually mind, is Chief Technical Officer at the “Zenotek” branch operated by his friend, T.J. Miller. Working under Bateman is Olivia Munn. This is the first time I’ve actually seen Munn do anything in a film, and I was pleasantly surprised; I’d assumed that her lack of lines in X-Men: Apocalypsewas due to an inability to act, but that assumption was proven wrong here. The CEO of Zenotek, Jennifer Aniston (who is also Miller’s sister) is looking for an excuse to shut Miller’s branch down due to some childhood rivalry. She agrees to keep the branch open if they can land the large account of Courtney B. Vance, and the trio decide to throw a party to bring him on-board.

This is where all cohesion ends. The film is so weirdly put-together that you wonder how so many talented people are part of it. At one point near the beginning of the film, Bateman inexplicably becomes sad and asks his friend “Do you think I… bunt, instead of swing for the fences?” I think that perhaps an earlier draft of the script had another character say this to him, which is why he’s repeating it to his friend? Not in this finished film, though, and the line is strange and out-of-place.

The editing is much worse than that, though. Towards the end of the film, Bateman and Munn run past two other employees who ask what’s happening and receive no response. The pair then lock themselves in an office, complete a task, and then poke their heads out the door and yell “ready?” to which the other two happily respond in the positive and begin to assist with the task about which they had no prior knowledge. In another scene, Aniston’s character argues with an airline employee about her flight being cancelled due to weather. Moments later, we see Aniston at her departure gate, where she sees her flight get cancelled due to weather. This is the moment in this comedy film where I actually burst into laughter.

Gosh, what else to say? There are multiple fart jokes, long stretches of nothing and some truly flagrant product-placement (with Kia and Apple being the worst offenders). Also, this film has two directors and six writers. I’ll say that again; two directors and six writers. This is a movie about a Christmas party in an office.

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Alex Falzon

Alexander Falzon is a film critic, screenwriter and short story author. An RMIT graduate, Alexander enjoys watching and discussing film, and mixes an excellent martini. You can hit him up on Twitter @alexanderfalzon and read more of his reviews at alexfalzon.com.

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