Directors Josh Gordon and Will Speck bank on the well-worn reputation of the office Christmas party to drive home the romp and camp in this holiday comedy they’ve fashioned from a story and script turned out by six (!) writers.
There are those who will go overboard when the usual restrictions of the workplace are loosened by drink while tensions ramp up by seasonal pressures and office politics seem to hide around every corner.
In the 1 hour, 45 minutes of Office Christmas Party, they deliver all of that to the max.
Jason Bateman plays Josh, who safely oversees the tech part of a tech company’s Chicago branch while Olivia Mann’s Tracey bats away at her keyboard attempting to perfect the next huge thing for the Internet. It’s a family business, with Clay trying to fill his recently passed father’s shoes at the top of this office while his sister Carol is the interim CEO of the whole darn company. Carol is a tightwad, tight-fisted, and thinks fun of any sort has no place in business, and maybe even life. She says the branch is closed unless a new client is hooked. Clay is an easygoing guy who thinks the Christmas office party could be the last-ditch way to hook big-client Walter, played smartly by Courtney B. Vance, to save the bacon.
The ensuing mayhem is part Animal House and part Hangover, with a lot of solid bit players to keep things moving.
Kate McKinnon is the best of the rest as HR chief Mary, the odd-duck voice of reason who’s over-the-top in her own way.
The party is a big one, sure, as they try to impress Walter and things get out of hand. Animals are involved. Drugs, of course. A foul-mouthed DJ, too, and a hooker hired by a mild-mannered worker to play the imaginary girlfriend of which he’d been bragging. Soon somebody uses social media to invite all of Chicago, and the office is overrun, despite the feisty security guard played with taser-wielding satisfaction by Da’Vine Joy Randolph.
It’s the kind of office party you either love or hate in real life, to participate in fully and worry about the next morning, or watch wide-eyed from the perimeter, or flee as soon as you seen an opening.
Meanwhile, though, a plot has broken out for our major players in the outside world, and real lives must be saved. People reveal their true selves. There’s a moral to this Christmas story.
The mid-size crowd for a 1:20 p.m. Saturday showing in the Regal Cinemas’ big theater in Syracuse mega shopping, dining and entertainment complex Destiny USA seemed to appreciate both halves of the equation. My dear wife Karen both thought it worked.
If you’ve attended a real life office Christmas party that’s gotten wild, please explain. Are you the type to participate in shenanigans, watch, or flee, and why? What’s your favorite wild party movie, and why?