Office Christmas Party: EW review
Another year, another big-screen contender for the naughty list. Like Bad Santa, The Night Before, and other hard-R Christmas comedies, Office offers the promise of relief from the anodyne entertainment and forced-festive sentiments of the holidays. There will be tequila! Nudity! Maybe an orgy in a manger! (Also cocaine; always cocaine.)
Here, the setting is a struggling Chicago firm—they make…computer parts, or something?—headed by a dopey dude-bro named Clay (T.J. Miller), the original founder’s son, and populated by a motley crew that includes a depressed divorcé (Jason Bateman), an impossibly hot tech goddess (Olivia Munn), and an officious HR manager (Kate McKinnon) who also appears to be the acting president of the Ugly Sweater Club.
Business isn’t booming, but the annual non-denominational party is still on track for later that evening—until Clay’s older sister (Jennifer Aniston), who’s also the company’s CEO, arrives and puts a Grinch on it; not only will there be no festivities, she’s shutting down the branch unless they can get a prospective client, Walter Davis (Courtney B. Vance), to sign a $14 million contract by the end of the next business day. When their initial pitch fails, there’s only one hail Mary left in movie-land: let the party go fully open-bar bonkers and show Walter the time of his repressed life. Cue codirectors Josh Gordon and Will Speck’s (Blades of Glory, The Switch) unhinged stream of shenanigans, some brilliant (Jillian Bell as a hair-trigger pimp whose moods swing as wide as her handgun; a whole bit about ladies named Carol) and some just comfortably dumb.
Aniston has a great time as the vampy, Krav Maga-ing Bitch Who Stole Christmas, and Miller’s willful idiocy is weirdly endearing. Once he decides to double down and deck the halls with bad decisions, his party feels pretty much like a real one does when it goes off the rails: rowdy, random, a little bit gross. But like most movies that supposedly aim to pee in Santa’s cornflakes, Office isn’t nearly as nihilistic as its veneer; beneath all the criminal mischief and baby-Jesus jokes there’s still heart of gold, or at least a big ball of tinsel. B