MOVIE REVIEW – ‘Office Christmas Party’

Review by J.T. Johnson

3-12-stars

DIRECTOR: Josh Gordan, Will Speck
CINEMATOGRAPHY: Jeff Cutter
WRITERS: Justin Malen, Laura Solon, Dan Mazer
MUSIC: Theodore Shapiro

How do you make a small, clichéd comedy with a thin plot and an absolutely absurd ending work? You fill it with as many all-star comedians that you can. “Office Christmas Party” definitely has the thinnest of stories, but its secret weapons include Jason Bateman, T.J. Miller, Kate McKinnon, and Jennifer Aniston.

You’ve heard the story a hundred times. A business is floundering and they are being threatened with closure when the main characters come up with a wild idea to save the day. In this movie, that includes a boss throwing an office Christmas party to impress a potential client into working with them.

Everything then goes nuts at the party including the loss of all inhibitions and employees who are venting their frustrations about their office’s business woes. It soon turns into an over-the-top affair crammed with as many jokes as possible to disguise that no one really knows what to do with the story. What the movie lacks in originality, though, is made up by the comedians who deliver the comic goods.

As the outtakes during the credits show, this is a movie where the filmmakers just turned the cameras on and let their performers do the rest. While the movie may not be as fresh, I found myself laughing pretty consistently through the whole affair. The actors appear to be having a good time and that bleeds through onto the camera.

There are standouts even amongst these all-stars. T.J. Miller, who has already made us laugh in both “Deadpool” and “Silicon Valley” on HBO, is the aloof boss who wants to do right by his employees. It’s mostly through his shenanigans that most of the funny stuff happens and Miller turns his comedic charm up to full blast.

He’s definitely not alone, either. Kate McKinnon plays the movie’s overbearing head of H.R. and can pretty much turn any scene she’s in into comedic gold. The filmmakers must have recognized this, because her role expands even more by the end despite the fact that McKinnon is playing a character that would not normally be a major player in the film’s conclusion.

The other supporting actors, including the likes of Vanessa Bayer, Jennifer Aniston, and Rob Corddry, are also here to just have some fun. They all know that they might as well go all out with this one, otherwise the movie just wouldn’t be able to stand on its own.

I did not walk into this movie thinking that I was going to see a glowing masterpiece of comedy. If anything, I walked in just wanting to laugh. The movie succeeded with this and therefore, it ultimately worked on me despite there being no real story or originality.

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