This week we went to a cinematic Office Christmas Party, having been watching some of our favourite festive films on the small screen, it seemed like the thing to do.
Christmas films become part of our Christmas viewing but since Elf in 2003 we haven’t loved that many more, with the exception of the A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas; Arthur Christmas and last years Krampus!
The film, from directors Josh Gordon & Will Speck, directors of Blades of Glory and Switch tells the story of a sub-office of Zenotech, run by Clay Vanstone (T J Miller).
When Clay’s sister and the company CEO, Carol Vanstone (Jennifer Aniston) arrives, we learn that overall the company is not doing well, and bonuses will not be paid and at least 40% of staff will have to be laid off.
Clay gets an extension of the weekend, whilst Carol has to attend a meeting in London to land a big client, financial giant, Walter Davis (Courtney B. Vance)
Should they land him, they will smash their target figures and prevent any layoffs, so Clay heads out to get him with his tech team of Josh Parker (Jason Bateman) and Tracey Hughes (Olivia Munn)
At the meeting, Walter dismisses the company as he sees it as a typical organisation and no different to any other office, bemoaning his current employers not paying out on bonuses, or having office Christmas parties to cut back on expenses.
Clay lies by saying he couldn’t be further from the truth, and promise if he attends he will see the Zenotech Christmas Party is like no other.
Which is correct, the office party is certainly like none I have ever been to, but sadly it is also like many a film I have seen! Ever since the Hangover was a box office monster, the drunk comedy has become more popular, from Sisters to the poorer Hangover sequels. This is somewhere in between The Hangover and its sequels. It’s fun but not brilliant.
It has so many potential yet under-used characters as well:
Nate (Karan Soni) is a picked upon boss, who after being ridiculed for his imaginary girlfriend, hires Savannah (Abbey Lee) an escort, which brings all sorts of trouble from her drug dealing pimp, Trina (Jillian Bell);
An over the top, dreams of being in a Die Hard scenario security guard called Clara (Da’Vine Joy Randolph);
Jeremy (Rob Corddry), an angry customer service manager;
Joel (Sam Richardson) brings quite a few laughs as the worker turned superstar DeeJay;
Allison (Vanessa Bayer) as unlucky in love, who finds even more disaster when her work colleague Fred (Randall Park) that she likes, reveals a fetish he likes, but far the best from these is Kate McKinnon as Mary, the head of H R, who pretty much steals every scene she is in.
The film never really is ‘laugh out loud funny’, a dance-off sequence between Jeremy and Mary is fun as are most of their scenes when together, but cut far too short; A reindeer drinking out of the toilet is fun but that is the only scene with the reindeer, which to us, was a wasted opportunity.
Instead the film spends more time going for using photocopies and 3D printers to copy anatomy parts. For a film which is going for a lot of heart, about rallying together and looked after each other at Christmas, it seems sad, they wanted to go that way!
This film, which had 6 people credited for the story and screenplay, plays hard and edgy with pimps and drug dealers, yet as above, tries to be soft with romance storylines, in particular between Josh and Tracey, but also about the importance of family as Clay and Carol look to fix their animosities of the past over their late father.
The film loses its way I felt in the final third, where clay is kidnapped by the pimp, for his money, leaving for an audacious rescue plan that will see the film tie all its loose ends up, with a potential solution for the saving of the company and love being found by all, as well as Clay and Carol realizing they don’t hate each other.
The cast do well with what they have, Bateman plays the nice guy, unlucky in love, like he has done in so many films; Munn makes a good love interest; Miller is fun, playing the role similar to many roles the likes of Zach Galifianakis/Adam Sandler and James Franco have played in the past and Aniston is just doing a repeat of her Horrible Bosses role, and we felt was the weakest in the film!
This film, much like this year’s Ghostbusters, belongs to a great central comedy performance from Kate McKinnon.
You can find the film at Amazon here:
Do you have a favourite festive or party film? We’d love to hear from you
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