'Office Christmas Party' Review: A New Kind of Christmas Classic, Albeit With Loads More Drugs
By John Boone
"Oh, god," the older gentleman seated behind me at a screening of Office Christmas Party groaned as Ying Yang Twins' 2008 seminal holiday classic, "Deck da Club," blasted through the speakers over the film's opening titles.
It does seem like that song choice alone would tell you everything you need to know about this simply titled film, about a struggling firm that sells...computers (I think?) and the "nondenominational holiday mixer" they throw in an attempt to land a big deal and save their branch from being shuttered by their menacing, money monster of a CEO (Jennifer Aniston).
You might get a better idea of what this movie is, though, knowing who everyone plays: Jason Bateman plays Jason Bateman. Aniston is Horrible Bosses: Grinch Edition. T.J. Miller is the frat boy boss and Olivia Munn is a computer engineer hacker. Jillian Bell is a pimp with a mood imbalance and Kate McKinnon is like a standout SNL sketch about a woman in HR. ("I know why you took a medical leave," she threatens another character.)
The reality is that every office Xmas party is mostly fine, because everybody likes free booze and passed apps. But Bateman and his misfit colleagues are so deeply unsatisfied, unhappy or mentally unwell that the soiree is a recipe for disaster long before cocaine is (accidentally) introduced. Cue various montages of insanity set to the beat drop of some EDM song.
It's best I note that I went into Office Christmas Party will loooow expectations, so I could be setting you up for failure here, but chalk it up to the strength of this cast (this cast!) or just a Christmas miracle: I've not laughed out loud as much in any other movie this year. It's silly! And, yes, often obscene -- Bateman unknowingly performs a lewd sex act on an eggnog luge shaped like a naked elf -- but it builds to the explicitness. In a way, the dick jokes feel earned. It's clever in ways these types of movies are usually dumb, and it's dumb too. But even fart jokes work when delivered by McKinnon.
You probably think this is another Bad Santa or The Night Before, and it probably is, but it's also a good time to be had by you and your cool cousins this Christmas. And though the groaning man at my showing survived, maybe leave your grandmother at home all the same.