“Office Christmas Party” Is The True Meaning Of Scraping At The Bottom Of The Barrel

By Scott Kurland

Film: Office Christmas Party
Starring: Jason Bateman, Olivia Munn, TJ Miller, Kate McKinnon, Courtney B. Vance, Vanessa Bayer, and Jennifer Aniston
Rated R
Directors: Josh Gordon & Will Speck

There’s no good alternative Christmas movies anymore. Last years’ “The Night Before” came close, but it’s a genuine Christmas movie. In my opinion, the last great dark alternative Christmas movie was “Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang”. That however, doesn’t hold a candle to the greatest Christmas film of all time, “Die Hard”. They just don’t make Christmas movies like the used to. These days, you either need to pander to kids or gross out audiences with sex and destruction. For every “Love, Actually”, you get fifteen “Christmas With The Kranks” or “Deck The Halls”. This week’s film is the terribly awkward “Office Christmas party.” I won’t lie, this film review won't be filled with a lot of Christmas cheer. If you don’t want to read any further you don’t have to, but I will be going hog wild on this Hindenberg of a film. Now, let’s take this film to task shall we?
“Office Christmas party” is the story of Josh (Jason Bateman) and the company he helps run: Zenotech. Josh works in the failing Chicago branch under Clay (TJ Miller),  the son of the late Zenotech creator. Clay is a screw-up who is driving the branch into the ground, and his CEO sister Carol (Jennifer Anniston) wants to shut them down and make Josh the head of another branch. Josh, Clay and their co-worker Tracey (Olivia Munn) must ban together and close a fourteen million dollar client (Courtney B. Vance), by throwing the greatest office Christmas party the company has ever known. Will they do it or….ugh, why bother? It’s really obvious how the outcome unfolds.

I truly did not like this film. I tried to give it the benefit of the doubt, but it’s just not funny or clever in any way. This is the first time I sat through a 105 minute movie and did not laugh or smirk. The sight gags are truly disappointing, and you can predict them coming from a mile away. The character traits are so bizarre for the side characters that it’s a little upsetting. Kate McKinnon, who is usually the best part of any film, couldn’t save this film. Neither could poor Jason Bateman or TJ Miller. This is clearly a beach house film. They’re making this movie to buy a house or pay a kids college fund. 

What I found so upsetting is all the horrendous cliches they use. There’s the rich heir of the company whose a slacker. His sister has to be a stick-in-the-mud because the younger sibling got all the love from their widower father. Then, suddenly, thanks to Christmas she now loves her brother. All I have to say to that is, FEH! I would have loved to see Anniston stay the same way, learn a lesson, and still keep her promise of closing the branch and taking all the good employees with her. That’s how business works. You cut loose the employees destroying the company and save the good ones. I shouldn’t be rooting for the villain, but honestly she’s right. Clay and Josh are wrong. 

“Office Christmas Party” spends most of it’s time creating one of the most uncomfortable atmospheres I’ve ever experienced on screen. There’s no likable characters. The plot is so ridiculous that you have to set it at Christmas because the only way this film will  have a happy ending is through “A CHRISTMAS MIRACLE”.  That’s the biggest cop-out of any movie, because you know your movie won’t work and you have to grasp at straws. The cast looks miserable, the editing is sloppy, and there’s a character who hits on a single mom because he wants her to be his lover….and his Mommy. There’s no number of  showers to take to make you feel better after that. You’ll never get clean, ever again. The four leads Bateman, Munn, Miller, and Anniston try to carry the film. But, you can tell that halfway through that they've all realized they’re trapped in a train wreck of a film.  It’s no surprise this film is bad. We get a bad Christmas movie every year. This year it’s “Office Christmas Party”. Save your money, because this is one of the worst films I’ve seen all year.  

scott kurlandComment