Review: Office Christmas Party (2016)


TJ Miller, Jennifer Aniston, Jason Bateman and Olivia Munn headline this irreverent and raunchy Christmas comedy that works as hard as it parties at bringing out the laughs

Josh Gordon and Will Speck directed one of the weirdest and funniest Will Ferrell + Random Sport = Comedy films back in 2007 with Blades of Glory. Here, the two return to the director’s chairs what at first glance comes across as a Mike Judge special with the Office Space influenced Office Christmas Party.

Clay (TJ Miller) and Josh (Jason Bateman) co-manage the Chicago branch of a mid-level office server provider called Zenotech. Clay is a professional screw-up, his past as a Jack Ass-like skater character earned him his dad’s love and a cushy job managing an underperforming branch of his father’s company. But in the wake of his father’s passing, his sister Carol (played by Jennifer Aniston) is positioning herself to be appointed CEO by shutting down unprofitable satellite offices and demands that the duo increase the office’s profitability to 12% from 6% in four days by cutting jobs or the branch will be shuttered. The duo bemoans that this has to happen the night of their annual Christmas party and Carol demands that they cancel their party, which they do begrudgingly. However, when the opportunity comes up to land a 14 million dollar contract from Courtney B. Vance’s Walter Davis, the gang decides the best way to land the deal is by showcasing Zenotech’s culture of great employees by throwing the best Christmas party ever.

This is pretty much the premise for all the madcap chicanery that ensues in the film. The cast of the film employs many of the best up and coming comedians from TV and film today and they all have little side stories. From SNL’s Vanessa Bayer and Fresh Off The Boat’s Randall Park having a bizarre will-they-or-won’t-they flirtation, to Deadpool breakout Karan Soni’s misadventures in hiring an escore from Workaholics’ Jillian Bell are a pair of the funnier B-stories. Aniston and Miller have great chemistry as feusing siblings; Jennifer Aniston’s physical comedy chops get a workout here as she utilizes Krav Maga on Miller and various characters in her latest take on a horrible boss character. The script is fun and improvised, which gives characters like Kate McKinnon’s dowdy HR rep a chance to shine. She’s the closest thing to Office Space’s Milton and overall is a delight to see whenever she is on the screen. Olivia Munn plays a potential love interest for Bateman’s Josh, who is channeling his role as Michael Bluth from Arrested Development to the extreme. Munn mainly serves an engine to the wrap up the film’s premise and doesn’t bring as much improvisational or comedic flavor to the film.

That being said, Office Christmas Party is a fun date movie for fans of the modern improv comedy scene and a chance to see some of tomorrow’s big comic names in a fun ensemble piece this holiday season.