By Thomas Simpson
After the disappointment that was Bad Santa 2, Office Christmas Party looks to bring some laughs accompanied with the Christmas cheer. The initial trailer didn’t do much for me and I entered the cinema with trepidation and skepticism. It looked dumb and puerile which although it is to an extent, it’s also a decent comedy.
Christmas is fast approaching but there’s trouble on the horizon for tech company Zenotek. After failing to meet its quarterly quota, Carol Vanstone (Jennifer Anniston) intermediate CEO threatens to lay off 40 percent of the staff. While two employees look to snare the deal that will save the company, Carol’s brother and branch manager Clay (T.J. Miller) arranges a wild Christmas party to lift everyone’s spirits, much to his sister’s protestations. With escorts, cocaine and overzealous HR thrown into the mix, what could possibly go wrong?
Office Christmas Party isn’t a laugh a minute riot, but it’s a humorous romp that doesn’t take itself too seriously. The ensemble cast includes Jason Bateman, Olivia Munn and Kate McKinnon with the latter in typical show stealing form as the uptight head of HR. The gags are silly and at times crude however the film is fairly inoffensive despite the adult humor on display.
The plot, backdrop to the jokes for the most part, is pushed to the forefront when the party leaves the office in the third act. The pace slows down around here with the schmaltz turned up to 11 as we hurtle towards what looks to be a super happy ending. But, it is a Christmas film at the end of the day so it can be forgiven for laying the syrupy sentimentality on thick.
It’s unlikely to become a holiday classic but it serves its purpose. There’s a definitive festive feel to proceedings with Bateman on fine straight man form with his deadpan expressions. The cast have a great chemistry with directors Will Speck and Josh Gordon ensuring no one is lost in the mix.
At times Office Christmas Party feels like a really long episode of a sitcom. This isn’t detrimental to the film’s enjoyment but it lacks the cinematic quality to make it truly memorable. It will offer amusement and has enough warmth to make you care about the characters. While it may lack any significant depth, Office Christmas Party offers amusing lines and provides enough festive warmth to deliver an entertaining watch.