It’s business as usual for Office Christmas Party, the latest exercise in R-rated edginess being applied to an otherwise toothless situation. Audiences may have been given a dose of this same seasonal comedy in Bad Santa 2, but a more relevant comparison is between Office Christmas Party and 2011’s A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas.
At the time, I thought Harold and Kumar’s tongue-in-cheek gimmicky cash-in was fine. It had me chuckling consistently, and it offered truly unconventional absurdism to an already contrived use of 3D technology. When I watched Office Christmas Party, I was laughing but my appreciation for A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas unexpectedly grew. Harold & Kumar was silly, but it found a way to stand out. Even 2015’s The Night Before, although messy, was unpredictable with its racy fun. Office Christmas Party feels like we’re treading familiar waters.
You shouldn’t dodge Office Christmas Party just because of its unoriginality though. There are lots of throwaway jokes that inject the film with momentum when it’s starting to feel stale (an unhinged DJ, egg nog being served through an unintentionally vulgar receptacle, and a sight gag involving male genitalia and a 3D printer briefly steal the spotlight), and same goes for quick appearances by comedians Fortune Feimster, Matt Walsh and Ben Falcone. However, select leading performances that are being used to sell the movie (Jason Bateman, Olivia Munn, Jillian Bell, Rob Corddry, among others) remind us of how much of Office Christmas Party is set on autopilot. This is why whenever Jennifer Aniston is comedically cold as a senseless, hardened CEO (a role that has the actress playing outside of her element), the film receives another few boosts of refreshment.
The film may be working with faulty comedic math (crude humour + an increasing degree of recklessness = GOLD), but Office Christmas Party still delivers decently.
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Addison Wylie: @AddisonWylie