“Office Christmas Party” is directed by Josh Gordon and Will Speck, who both directed “Blades of Glory” and “The Switch”, as well. Their strength is comedy but when a movie is good just not good enough, it doesn’t surprise me when I find out there was more than one director. I can imagine the back and forth they might have about how to go about a certain scene and you can definitely tell when one man’s option should have won over the other. However, I could be reading into it too much. Don’t get me wrong. This is a good, dirty and off-colored little picture, just in time for your holiday cheer, and one you will enjoy watching if you’re a fan of the genre… but had they put a little more effort into originality, you would have applauded the effort and most likely added it to your ever growing pile of every year holiday favorites. As it is, this is a one time watch and one time only. It’s your atypical party flick with one advantage… almost the entire cast of SNL has a spot in the film. Think, “The Hangover”, “Superbad” and the like. You’ve seen this before but not only have you seen the film, you’ve seen the actors play the same characters time and time again. I’ll admit, I love it when I see Aniston play a cold, calculated b*tch but wasn’t “Horrible Bosses 2” out not that long ago?
Moving on. We meet the boss of the company ZenoTek, Clay Vanstone (Miller) and his right hand man, Josh Parker (Bateman) directly before the moment CEO, and Clay’s sister, Carol (Aniston) walks in. We’ve established that Clay and Parker love to have fun and don’t necessarily adhere to company rules very well, despite the efforts of human resources head, Mary (McKinnon), but Carol is not sweet on the branch, nor is she thrilled with her brother. Forever the butt of his jokes and constantly reminded by him that he was dad’s favorite, she uses the fact that their father made her CEO and not him, against him. After this latest visit it’s time to show Clay why. She will keep the company a success at any cost… even if that cost is him. After cancelling their Christmas bonuses and party, she gives him two days to turn things around or he would face cuts or possibly branch closing.
His only hopes of saving the branch is to catch a major client, Walter Davis (Courtney B Vance), and to impress him, they throw the party of a lifetime; two birds with one stone. Proud of himself, Clay is certain it’ll all work out to plan. What could go wrong? The employees get Christmas joy and he saves the branch. What could go wrong? Everything! When a fun office party becomes a drunken brawl with alcohol, drugs and pimps having a bad day, what could go right? Actually, several things do go right, and they are the reasons to see this nonsensical comedy. The cast is great, T.J. Miller does a good job as he steadily gets drunk and Jillian Bell is hilarious as a pimp with a personality disorder. The script has its fun moments but it goes overboard at times. You will cherish the efforts from the cast to stand out, but there’s not enough of a discernible difference between it and films of the genre to say its worth paying a high ticket price for. This is matinee at best.