Posted Dec 09 2016
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Office Christmas Party - This Party Movie Rocks (Come On, It's Christmas)

Dir: Josh Gordon, Will Speck

Starring Jason Bateman, Olivia Munn, T J Miller, Kate McKinnon, Jennifer Anniston, Courtney B Vance, Rob Corddry, Vanessa Bayer

If we thought this ‘twas the season to be merry, Bad Santa 2 a couple of weeks back kind of ruined that for us. And, to be honest, early trailers for Office Christmas Party looked more like another nail in the coffin rather than the sound of reindeer hooves on the roof.

So colour us all seasonal when we get to report that this Christmas piece of excess is not at all bad. Not all good, mind – but not at all bad.

The plot is of course all in the title – so we won’t bother you with that, save to say – there’s an office party, things get out of hand. Thankfully there is a terrific cast on board to not only get us in the door but keep us going through the night. Jason Bateman, after one Identity Theft and two Horrible Bosses, has been in danger of trying our patient and eliciting our sympathy both of late. The man has such a deft touch that it’s been a genuine shame to see him waste it in such daft vehicles. Here he’s as good as he ever is, but all around him rise up to join the – well – party. Olivia Munn finally gets a stab at doing some decent work on the big screen, T J Miller is delightful, extrapolating his Silicon Valley gig into a winning man-child thing, Courtney B Vance gets to build on his post-Johnny Cochrane career renaissance, and as for Jennifer Anniston (here cast somewhere between Scrooge and the Grinch) – we all the know the woman can do this stuff in her sleep – just give her something to play. Best of all, we have Kate McKinnon, proving that not only was she the best (only?) good thing in this year’s Ghostbusters disaster, but she’s the best thing to come through SNL since Fey and Poehler departed.

So – great cast. But do they have a great script? They have a half way decent one – aided and abetted by some superior supporting casting, many of them vets of stand up or SNL – and there are more gags that hit than there are those that miss. Even if the Christmas miracle turns out to be as facile as internet connectivity! Plus, helmers Gordon and Speck (late of Blades of Glory and the lesser The Switch) direct with a swift sense of pace that does the film all sorts of favours.

We’re in a new generation of R-rated comedies. The rating used to be denoted by excess, now it’s more often than not language. So the phrase “gross out” no longer seems appropriate. “Nasty” works for some – Bad Grandpa can never be unseen. And “adult” doesn’t really seem to fit something that aspires to thrive in adolescence. Who knows what we should now be calling some of these movies?

But this one we can certainly label “unexpected”, occasionally “hit and miss.” But surprisingly “full of heart.”

Oh, and did we mention “funny?”

 

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