There are many movies that are worth seeing, but there are a lot of stinkers as well. My goal here is to weed out the good from the bad.
Office Christmas Party
Clay Vanstone (T.J. Miller) is the manager of a branch of a tech company called Zenote. Carol Vanstone (Jennifer Aniston) is Clay Vanstone's older sister and is the CEO of the company. When Clay Vanstone's branch underperforms, Carol Vanstone threatens to shut the branch down unless they can land a specific big client. In order to do so, Clay Vanstone decides to throw a huge office Christmas party and invites that big client in an attempt to win him over.
Josh Parker (Jason Bateman) and Tracey Hughes (Olivia Munn) are Zenotek employees who want to impress the client and keep their jobs. However, they know Clay Vanstone, and they will need to keep the party under control. They want to impress the client, sure, but they also want to keep everyone alive and keep Clay from inadvertently burning the place to the ground. Fortunately, they have the office’s Human Resources representative—and resident cat lady—Mary (Kate McKinnon) to help them.
The Pros & Cons
|The Pros||The Cons|
Kate McKinnon (+3pts)
Jason Bateman & Olivia Munn (-4pts)
The Plot (+4pts)
Nothing Special (-6pts)
The Characters (+5pts)
Anywair & Randall Park (-4pts)
Pro: Kate McKinnon (+3pts)
While I thought Kate McKinnon talked and looked a lot like her Hillary Clinton impersonation for the entire movie, the comedy she delivered was easily the best comedy of the movie—in my opinion, of course. I do not think she overdid it like I thought she did in Ghostbusters. Instead, her one-liners, awkward delivery, and general craziness made for some great moments. She was the comedic relief when the rest of the cast was busy moving the plot of the movie along, and she did well in that role.
While I do not think Kate McKinnon was responsible for them in any way, her character—the Human Resources representative—put up some flyers before the party. I am not going to give away what was on them, but I found them to be pretty funny and I thought they summed up the character pretty well. You will think you know what to expect from this character, but she always felt just crazy enough to be a loose cannon, and she certainly had her surprising moments to validate that feeling. Kate McKinnon’s comedic style can be too much for some movies, as it was for Ghostbusters, but I thought it worked really well for this movie and provided a number of effective comedic moments—she just was not a focal point of the movie.
Con: Jason Bateman & Olivia Munn (-4pts)
The chemistry between these two characters could have been a lot better. I thought the two characters got along great as coworkers and even friends, but I did not think they worked as romantic interests for one another. The filmmakers flirted with the idea of these two ending up with each other right from the beginning, and I did not buy that sort of relationship between them, so I did not really care about if they ended up together or not. I like both Jason Bateman and Olivia Munn, but their romantic relationship felt really forced in this movie.
The filmmakers could very easily have made them just friends and coworkers. In that regard, these two characters worked well together, so the filmmakers should have left it at that. By trying to force a romance, the filmmakers made me lose interest in their storyline together. I did not care if they ended up together, I just wanted to see how the two would deal with their irresponsible boss.
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Pro: The Plot (+4pts)
This was not a movie that had a plot that will blow your mind, but for a comedy, I think the plot of this one worked. I bought every character’s motivations. I bought Clay Vanstone's reasoning for throwing a crazy party. I even bought the fact that, due to all these crazy employees, the party would get out of hand.
I also bought Carol Vanstone's reasoning for shutting down the branch and trying to shut down the party. Really, aside from one plot detail—see my thoughts on Anywair later in this review—the plot for this movie worked. Pretty much everything made sense—even if it was exaggerated. It was hard to predict exactly how everything would turn out, and I was interested enough to see how it would. The plot of a comedy really does not need to be anything special. It just needs to be interesting enough to keep me watching, while stringing the comedic moments together. Fortunately, the plot for this movie did just that.
Con: Nothing Special (-6pts)
However, in a comedy movie, the comedy should be something special, and the comedy in this movie just was not. The build up in the rising action suggested that the party was going to be out of control. It was, but the movie did not focus on that at all. As soon as the party started getting absolutely crazy, all the main characters left, and the focus of the movie went with them. We got a couple of quick montage scenes which showed the craziness, then the next morning we saw a shot of the aftermath.
It was kind of a bummer as the trailers gave the impression that we were going to be in for a wild ride with this party. This idea could have made for a ton of surprising, laugh-out-loud moments. However, aside from Kate McKinnon, there was not a whole lot to laugh at during this movie. The jokes were sacrificed in order to push the plot forward, which was really unfortunate as this idea had a lot of potential.
Pro: The Characters (+5pts)
There were a lot of characters in this movie, yet I did not feel as though the movie was crowded. I thought all of the characters worked except for one—I will get into that next in this review. I liked all of the side characters, but my only wish was that we could have seen more of the coworkers interacting with one another on a professional level to see the department stereotypes. That being said, I will reiterate that I had fun seeing all the different employees of this branch, and thought they formed a decently entertaining cast of characters.
Con: Anywair & Randall Park (-4pts)
This was the only part of the plot that did not work for me. Anywair was supposed to be this innovative tech idea. However, when it was being explained, I knew it was something that would never work. I got through the scene knowing that this was just a dumb comedy, so I should not take its tech ideas too seriously, but then there was a hugely coincidental event that required this technology, and there was an incredibly cheesy scene when they were implementing it. I just did not buy it. I did not think that any of the scenes involving Anywair worked, and I thought it seemed too ridiculous—even for a comedy like this one.
Then there was Randall Park’s character, who was a huge fail for me. Fortunately, his character was not in the movie much. Nonetheless, the character was just too weird. I think the character was supposed to be shockingly hilarious and instead it was just weird, which made the character pretty annoying. The character did not get much screen time, but this was an example of attempted comedy that fell very flat and I would have taken him out of the movie all together.
Grade: C- (73pts)
Office Christmas Party was a severely average comedy. It promised a crazy party but just delivered a chaotic montage scene. It promised heavy laughs, but just gave one character—played by Kate McKinnon—a few comedic moments. The rest of the characters were spent moving the plot forward, which should not have been the case, as more of this movie should have been focused on comedy.
I think the filmmakers more or less delivered exactly the kind of movie I expected. It was not bad, but it was not great either. This was kind of a bummer, as I thought this premise with this cast had a lot of potential. Overall I think you will get some laughs from this movie, but there will not be too many, and none were very memorable. If you are bored this weekend, go ahead and get some people together and throw this movie on in the background. Otherwise, you could probably find something better pretty easily.