Writing reviews of comedies is always a fickle mistress, because it basically comes down to describing very relative crap that makes you laugh. Another interesting aspect to think about is whether to hold comedies to the same standard as other movies in more serious genres. If a comedy succeeds in making you laugh then hasn't it achieved its primary purpose, or should it also be an objectively "good" movie?
"Office Christmas Party" might not be objectively good, but it made me laugh. On the one hand, the characters are all thinly drawn excuses to bring a bunch of great comedic actors together but, on the other hand, this has Kate McKinnon and Rob Corddry dance battling each other... so which is more important in the long run?
T.J. Miller ("Silicon Valley") plays friendly goofball Clay, the branch manager of a struggling I.T. company that needs an injection of capital in order to keep from closing. His sister Carol (Jennifer Aniston) is the nasty and cruel CEO of the company who can't stand Clay, relishing the thought of firing him and all of his friends.
His Chief Technical Officer, Josh (Jason Bateman), and the head of tech, Tracey (Olivia Munn), attempt to bring in financial giant Walter Davis (Courtney B. Vance), only to be rejected instantly. But they have one more chance to woo Walter to the firm—at the company's Christmas Party that Clay is determined to make the greatest party in the history of booze.
That's basically it. There are some stakes because we care about Clay, Josh and Tracey and don't want them to lose their jobs to Carol and her awful greed, but really it's all just an excuse to watch a bunch of adults act like crazy people. The movie is called "Office Christmas Party" and follows the "Snakes on a Plane" school of film titles by telling you EXACTLY what to expect.
Here's where the bonafides come in: I love a good fart joke and watching drunk people doing stupid things, and that's primarily all that's going on here. You don't really care about the characters because of the writing, you care because it's Bateman, Munn, Miller, McKinnon, Corddry, Vance, Jillian Bell, Vanessa Bayer, Randall Park, Sam Richardson, Matt Walsh, Karan Soni and about a dozen more brilliant comedic actors playing the parts. This bench is deep and the film knows exactly when to use them.
If the humor you're after is high brow, then search elsewhere, but if you're just looking to shut your brain off and watch some funny people improvise some ridiculousness, then this is perfect. Just switch that brain to autopilot and let the fart jokes flow through you.
"Office Christmas Party"
Dir. Will Speck & Josh Gordon
Old Mill Stadium 16 & Redmond Cinemas