Not that many Christmas movies out. Office Christmas Party is has been the only example I’ve seen so far (though I did miss Almost Christmas last week) and it’s less about the holidays and more about a Big Giant Party. Just like Halloween, there’s been a dearth of seasonal movies this year but I probably shouldn’t complain too loudly. Last year this time I’d had my fill of holiday glurge and then some.
Big Giant Party is a genre – Animal House, Project X, Can’t Hardly Wait and of course House Party 1, 2 and 3 (along with many many others). It’s a pretty simple set-up, people decide they need a party for whatever reasons and then hold one. Sometimes the party looks like it’s going to be lame but not for long as people continues to show up and things inevitably get Out Of Control. Turns out this is just what everyone actually needed and somehow it fixes everyone’s problems, individual or collective. If I tell you that Office Christmas Party follows this exactly, would that be a spoiler? Probably not, as the movie already tells you exactly what it’s about in the title.
I wasn’t actually looking to see another Big Giant Party movie (not my genre) but I found myself laughing. A lot. It could have been just playing to my particular sense of humor but this could have been the funniest movie I’ve seen this year, which isn’t surprising given the cast. Jason Bateman is funny, TJ Miller is very funny and Kate McKinnon is not only funny but she did that Grinch thing to me where my heart grew three sizes one year. I adore her. Office Christmas party really shines is its characters and the way they interact. Whether it’s the ball-busting CEO who’s good at everything but can’t catch a break (good GOD I laughed at that character), or the gun-toting pimp who doesn’t do handshakes (she does hugs). All of it was really funny and wonderfully acted.
Office Christmas Party is aware of its genre and plays to it perfectly. We understand fully how tedious and awful office life had become and exactly why a party will revitalise and save everything. The party starts going out of control right on cue with predictably disastrous results. And there are some magnificent sight gags in the wreckage the next day. To be honest I don’t have much criticism for Office Christmas Party. It knows what it is and it delivers what it promises. True, it doesn’t try to revolutionise the medium of film, it isn’t there to change your life, but it’s still completely likeable and entertaining.
So is Office Christmas Party worth watching? Possibly, if you have a couple hours to kill. It’s great fun but easy to forget as soon as the credits are rolling, but I would argue that can be a good thing. And seeing a movie like this feels a little like actually BEING at a really kick ass party except that you’re not going to have to yell to be heard, you’re not going to get too much spilled on you and you won’t be sick from it the next day. And as far as the Big Giant Party genre goes, Office Christmas Party is my new favorite.