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Office Christmas Party (6/10)

by Tony Medley

Runtime 118 minutes.

Not for children.

There have been several movies recently, 2012ís Fun Size and Project X come to mind, about teenagers who take over their parentsí houses and have wild, improbable parties. They are supposed to be comedies but, instead, they are extraordinarily annoying, if not insulting.

This is a tale about a wild, improbable party. But this time it is not thrown by teenagers and it is not thrown at somebodyís house. This party is an office party thrown at an office. Directed by Will Speck and Josh Gordon from a screenplay by John Lucas & Scott Moore and Timothy Dowling (while two of these appear to be a writing partnership, more than one screenwriter is generally a sign of danger), I was programmed to hate this thing.

However, even though the party is ludicrous and the film is filled with F bombs and people acting depraved, it somehow, strangely, is actually entertaining.

While part of it is the result of competent directing, a lot is also due to good acting by Jason Bateman as Josh Parker, the companyís chief technical officer, T.J. Miller as Clay Vanstone, Jasonís boss, and Jennifer Anniston as Carol Vanstone, Millerís sister, but also the CEO of the company and, therefore, T.J.ís boss.

Itís no surprise when Bateman and Aniston give fine performances because they can generally carry any movie they are in. Miller is a newcomer to me and he had a role that is so over-the-top it could, and should, have been ridiculous. Instead, TJ makes it into something less than awful.

In addition there are some fine supporting performances by Kate McKinnon, Jillian Bell, and comedian Fortune Feimster. The latter plays a Uber driver near the end of the film and, despite her few minutes, onscreen stands out.

The story is that JJs division of the company is in trouble and straight-laced Carol wants to shut it down. They need to get additional business from Walter Davis (Courtney B. Vance), so throw the party to impress him. What follows is beyond anyoneís anticipation, as was the idea that I might enjoy it enough to give it a positive rating, despite an unnecessary sacrilegious disparagement of the meaning of Christmas (that actually shows a total misunderstanding of what Christmas is) that will undoubtedly offend many Christians. But I think that Jesus had a sense of humor.

 

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