If there’s any highlight at work its usually the Christmas office party bringing with it all manner of debauchery and which is usually followed by all manner of civil law suits by employees usually against over amorous colleagues and the poster for, ‘Office Christmas Party’, promises an outrageous party to end all parties which is the whole raison d’etre for the one featured in this film. Featuring T.J. Miller as a man-child wholly unsuited to being the branch head of an IT company which he’s inherited from his late father the company is only kept in check by his uptight sister who is a far more appropriate CEO and is incredibly uptight and potty mouthed in a role played against type by Jennifer Anniston. She is also slay-master general – shutting down branches and sacking vast swathes of employees if they under perform which is the case with her brother’s branch. If he can’t improve their sales she’ll sack 40% of his staff and in a bid to save money bans the annual Christmas party as well. So Miller with his newly divorced Chief Technical officer (Jason Bateman)set out to save the company by ignoring the CEO’s edict by throwing an epic Christmas party to which they invite a potential client to close a sale.
What could go wrong? From the poster, it would seem, everything. Unfortunately Anniston’s flight to London has been delayed and unknown to them she’s on her way back to the office. The old adage, ‘while the cats away, the mice will play’ is true here as the party grows increasingly insane. Problem here though is that there’s little we haven’t seen in a party movie before. So we have the employees sitting on the office photocopier (although there is a decent gag about a 3D copier), drink being consumed in massive quantities, accidental drug intake by the normally strait laced and inevitably it incorporates a sub plot about a beautiful escort (Abbey Lee) and her avaricious pimp, an entertainingly psychotic Jillian Bell.
Much like real office parties it’s also the culmination of frustrated and unrequited office romances that come to the fore with Bateman’s divorcee and his simmering affections for one of his key staff members, Tracy (Olivia Munn), in a less than sparkling romance whereas the rest of the cast also have their own hook ups which are equally uninspiring (Randall Park has a queasy regression into being a baby when romance is in the air, Karan Soni resorts to paying for escorts with the wholly expected twist that she’ll go with anyone who has money). The film soon runs out of ideas and leaves the party and then resorts to a car chase outside to further its plot (a new IT idea that will save the company’s fortunes) whereas it would have been preferable to stay inside and ramp up the excesses of the party itself. Somehow it took three people to think up the story for this film and three more to write it, one of which is Dan Mazer, who was behind the scripts for Ali G, Borat & Bruno as well as the underrated, ‘I give it a year’ but this does seem to be something of a missed opportunity as everyone has an Office Christmas party anecdote and the scenario is crying out for a decent film about one but this isn’t it. Which is a shame as the cast give it their all with Kate McKinnon vastly better here than she was in Ghostbusters though the normally good Rob Corddry is somewhat unused here in an easily dispensed with supporting role. Unfortunately this is one of those occasions where the trailer is better than the film which is better than the outtakes which play over the credits. And like a hangover it’s all forgotten about within a day.
Here’s the trailer…….