"Office Christmas Party" is exactly what you would expect --- rude, crude and often hilarious! With the Christmas party season upon us, "Office Christmas Party" capitalizes on all of the cliches associated with corporate holiday festivities, and then some. But, if you are the least bit offended by sacrilegious content or bestiality, then you may want to take a pass.
Clay Vanstone (T. J. Miller) manages the Zenotech branch in Chicago. His sister, Carol (Jennifer Aniston), has taken over as CEO of the company after their beloved father passed away. Carol has always resented Clay and his easy life, and now she wants to close his operation because their growth doesn't measure up to her expectations.
To keep everyone employed, Clay and his team, Josh Parker (Jason Bateman), Tracey Hughes (Olivia Munn) and Mary (Kate McKinnon) must close the Walter Davis (Courtney B. Vance) account by the day after Christmas. Carol has forbidden them to have their office holiday celebration, but to win Davis and his $14 million business, the group plans a party to end all parties.
Bateman is no stranger to this type of comedy and his straight-man act serves him well again. He is the hysterical "voice of reason" to Vanstone's crazy boss shtick. They complement one another perfectly, especially when they're caught knocking over the department store Christmas tree.
Throw in Munn, Aniston and McKinnon and you have a laugh riot. McKInnon's Human Resource character is priceless --- she breaks wind when she gets nervous and remains determined that no one should have any fun. But set her up with a Russian mobster and no one is funnier.
Aniston has played the heavy before. In "Horrible Bosses" she portrayed the oversexed dentist who doesn't take "no" for sex from her engaged employee. In "Office Christmas Party" she is one nasty bitch, particularly when all of the flights at O'Hare are canceled due to a blizzard and a five-year-old eats her Cinnabon. But she rises to the occasion when Clay is basically kidnapped by a Russian prostitute and her pimp --- and the rest of Clay's team jumps into action to rescue him.
Unfortunately, there is some rather tasteless comedy included. I could have done without the ice sculpture spewing egg nog and various random sex acts. Why the screenwriters chose to stoop to that level is mind boggling --- "Office Christmas Party" is amusing enough without it.
Opinion: Mild See It Now! (But be warned!)
There's a lot to like in "Office Christmas Party", which is to say there's a lot to laugh at ---and why not, with Jason Bateman, Jennifer Aniston, Kate McKinnon, Courtney B. Vance, Olivia Munn and especially T.J. Miller in the cast? We've said it many times --- making a good comedy is probably the most difficult thing to accomplish in film, and while "Office Christmas Party" has a lot of hilarity early on, it struggles to sustain the humor for the full running time.
Still, it's worth seeing and it will do very well at the box office. People flock to comedies to escape the doldrums of every day life, especially around Christmas time, and "Office Christmas Party" is just the ticket. Sure, there is the expected amount of bathroom humor and sexual references, including graphic nudity by the extras, but none of it is over-the-top Adam Sandler-style. Well, maybe a little with the ice sculpture.
Those of you familiar with Miller know his shtick, but I'm a Miller newbie, so I can honestly say the guy is flat out hysterical. McKinnon has been my fave on SNL for a long time and she can do no wrong. She could read "Mechanics Illustrated" and crack me up. Bateman is his usual deadpan self --- as long as he stays away from mean scripts ("Bad Words") --- he's as good as there is in the comedy world. I've always thought Aniston is a comic genius, so her deft portrayal of a penny-pinching, Scrooge-like CEO is perfect.
It's good to see SNL veteran Vanessa Bayer in an extended role and Vance is stiffly staunch as the executive being wooed for his business. But once he accidentally gets a whiff of some cocaine, all bets are off. Munn can play it straight ("The Newsroom") or for laughs, and either way she's a delight. Rob Corddry is always a welcome comedian, and Jillian Bell kills it as a female pimp. And let's not forget Aniston's Uber driver, played by Fortune Feimster who thinks "Carol" is an archaic name --- she is a hoot.
Opinion: See It Now!