Office Christmas Party

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I guess you don’t have to wonder about what happens to the office in this movie.

Office Christmas Party is a raunchy R-rated comedy whose title pretty much sums up what it’s about. A company, threatened with closure and layoffs, goes all in on a holiday party in order to whoo a potential client whose partnership might just keep them from going under. Queue a huge rager with sex, drugs, alcohol, nudity, and wild shenanigans that, of course, gets way out of control. It’s a recycled idea, to be sure, and not one that’s made to feel especially fresh here.

That doesn’t make this movie awful. It’s okay. If you’re into raunchiness, you’ll get your fill here and probably enjoy it. You’ll probably also enjoy actors Jason Bateman and T.J. Miller, who work well together as a straight man and comic relief, respectively. And while I’m on the subject, actress Olivia Munn does a somewhat good job as well in a supporting role despite being given little to work with. Additionally, to the picture’s credit, it moves at about the right pace, never dwelling too long on one scene or plot point before moving on to something else. As such, it’s rarely boring.

Aside from that, though, there’s really not much that makes this movie noteworthy. It’s funny in places, but no single gag had me rolling on the floor; it’s insightful at times about modern office culture, but could have used more commentary; and though there’s plenty of raunchiness, this film lacks the clever writing and strong characterization necessary to boost it to Animal House levels. Lastly, even though most comedies, by their nature, don’t demand much coherency and flow in their story (the most important thing is that you laugh, everything else is secondary) the one here seems oddly disjointed and does actually manage to bring the film down. It drops its central premise — throwing a huge party to impress a client — about two-thirds of the way through and then awkwardly shifts gears into another plot involving pimps and prostitution, only to awkwardly shift gears again at the end by trying to resolving everything through a Deus Ex Machina concerning Internet usage of all things. While it doesn’t break the film, it’s unnecessarily awkward. Something simpler would have been more effective.

The best way to describe this film is that it is passable to the extent that those already predisposed to seeing it won’t feel as though they were ripped off after having done so. In other words, if all you want is a dumb movie about a holiday party gone wild, you’ll find that here, and little else. On that level, I suppose it accomplishes what it set out to do. But for everyone else, there’s just not much to recommend this picture on. You’re probably better off seeing some other film this season.

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