Office Christmas Party (15) | Close-Up Film Review


Dir. Will Speck and Josh Gordon, USA, 2016, 105 mins

Cast:   Jason Bateman, Kate McKinnon, Olivia Munn, Jennifer Aniston, T.J. Miller

This is a seasonable frolic, whose plot is in the title and is a hook on which to hang a load of gags, some funny, some not so funny.  Which of them tickles your funny bone will depend on personal taste.

Brother and sister Clay (Miller) and Carol (Aniston) are sibling rivals and joint owners of their late father’s business.  Fun loving and soft hearted Clay, who was the favourite child, runs what was Dad’s personal branch with the help of his technical officer and best mate Josh (Jason Bateman).  But the branch is losing money and bossy, hard nosed businesswoman Carol is planning to close it.  Against the express instructions of his sister, Clay comes up with a hare brained scheme to save the branch and protect his staff by throwing the Christmas party to end all Christmas parties in order to capture a big contract from potential client Walter Davis (Courtney B. Vance).  And guess what?  Mayhem ensues.

One of the good things about the film is Aniston having fun playing super bitch.  A scene where she destroys a stroppy little girl’s Christmas hopes with a fake call to Santa Claus is a bit of a joy.  The film’s references to the name “Carol” being a name for old ladies these days also raised a personal wry grin from me!   Kate McKinnon as the uptight human resources manager with an appalling taste in politically correct Christmas jumpers also has some funny moments, as does Vance as the initially restrained client whose party spirit is released after the accidental ingestion of a certain white powder.   Karan Soni is endearing as geeky staff member Nate, who hires hooker Savannah (Abbey Lee) to pose as his girlfriend for the evening, while Savannah’s tough female pimp Trina (Jillian Bell) give us a new angle on girl power.

Considering the nature of the film it is surprisingly and thankfully restrained as far as the gross out element is concerned.  The usual photocopying of bottoms and a few discreet semi sexual encounters plus Bateman being persuaded to drink egg nog from the penis of an ice sculpture is about as far as it goes in that area.  Otherwise Bateman and Munn as his romantic interest are the film’s “straight men” and don’t have to do anything too humiliating.

It’s all very silly but you don’t get that many office Christmas parties in real life in these days of austerity, so if a group of you get a bit tanked up in the pub and then go off to see the film, it might just put you in the mood for a very merry Christmas.

Review by Carol Allen