Office Christmas Party begins with Josh (Jason Bateman) getting a divorce, which is rather handy given that for the rest of the movie, he’ll be dilly-dallying around computer whizz Tracey (Olivia Munn), and if you’re wondering whether or not they’ll get together by the time 111 minutes have passed, it’s not a puzzle that’s as complex as the JFK ‘mystery bullet’ theory.
The company’s run by Clay (TJ Miller in a standard slacker role, which is all he knows how to do), who’s struggling to come to terms with the fact that his sister, Carol (Jennifer Aniston), holds higher value in their company and plans to close his branch down because it’s not meeting its new, unobtainable targets. Plus, like Alan Rickman’s Sheriff of Nottingham in Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, Christmas is cancelled… well, the office party is… maybe.
The trailer for this was one which made this look pretty dire for a typical f-word-laden US comedy – always going for the obvious gag, so I originally watched this just to tick a box for myself as I’d get round to seeing it at some point. However, with a lot of deadpan humour early on, it turned out to be a better movie than expected, and the script is initially peppered with a lot of amusing lines, even when Josh and Clay are walking to a shop for Secret Santa gifts, with Clay speculating on how fast you’d have to drive to jump over the gap in a bridge when it opens to let boats pass, comparing the speed to that in the Fast and Furious movies, to which Josh replies that he’s only seen the first one, so probably isn’t much help to Clay in this situation…
- Clay: “But they only get more fast and more furious. Why am I only hearing about this now??”
And when they’re shopping…
- Clay: “It’s so hard to shop for the bald. Who are they? What do they want?”
In fact, going back to the trailer, when one person tries to swing on Christmas lights and crashes to the floor, suffering a serious injury, Jason Bateman’s character responded with a line that didn’t work as it just spelled out the obvious: “I think he meant to *swing*, there…”, but in the movie proper, he just tuts and says, “So close(!)”, which works better.
So, Office Christmas Party was heading for a steady 6/10 for some time, but then concentrating on Trina the pimp (Jillian Bell) slows things down and the film derails in the third act as a result, especially as it heads away from the office in question, and tries to throw everything at it including the kitchen sink.
I also found it rather odd that all the opening credits cast text appears in a rather standard bold font, including the movie’s title, smacks of an unfinished aspect of the movie.
I’ll add that this disc contains both the theatrical and extended version of the movie, the latter containing an extra six minutes which didn’t need to be there, in theory, as the movie shouldn’t have run any longer than 90 minutes. However, for the curious, you can compare the differences on the Movie Censorship site.
Also, now having had a look at those behind the film, I’m wondering if all the funny lines were written by British comedienne Laura Solon, as I’ve enjoyed a lot of her stuff, previously. I’d also wager than the less funny sections come from two of those behind the story – Jon Lucas and Scott Moore – who did create a decent comedy last year with Bad Moms, but then brought us an early Christmas turkey in 2017 with Bad Moms Christmas.
Plus, one thing that was stupid, which I’ll hide behind a spoiler…
The film is presented in the original 2.35:1 widescreen ratio and in 1080p high definition and, since it’s a new film shot digitally, you’d be surprised if there were any issues on the print, so there are zero problems or defects.
The audio is presented in DTS HD Master Audio 5.1 and there’s nothing too surprising – dialogue and occasional music and atmosphere. This isn’t a special effects or musical movie.
The brief extras are as follows:
- Throwing an Office Christmas Party (11:50): The usual mix of on-set footage with chat from the cast and crew and clips from the film.
- Outtakes (8:51): 13 of them here, in addition to a load of them during the end credits.
- Deleted and Extended Scenes (3:03): Five, here, including an alternate ending (which is nothing to get excited about, at all). Out of these, I’d have kept the third and fourth, just because it has more Jamie Chung 😀
- Audio description: Does exactly what it says on the tin.
- Audio commentary: by directors Josh Gordon and Will Speck. Both this and the audio description are on the theatrical version only.
The menu features a brief piece of the funky score set to cartoon replications of events in the film. Subtitles are in English only and there’s an odd-number of 17 chapters.
Running time: 105 minutes (theatrical) 111 minutes (extended)
Released: November 13th 2017
Studio: Entertainment One
Picture: 1080p High Definition
Sound: DTS HD Master Audio 5.1, DTS 5.1, Dolby Digital 5.1
Widescreen: 2.35:1 (Arriraw (2.8K))
Disc Format: BD50
Directors: Josh Gordon and Will Speck
Producers: Guymon Casady, Daniel Rappaport and Scott Stuber
Screenplay: Justin Malen, Laura Solon and Dan Mazer (based on a story by Jon Lucas, Scott Moore and Timothy Dowling)
Music: Theodore Shapiro
Josh Parker: Jason Bateman
Tracey Hughes: Olivia Munn
Clay Vanstone: TJ Miller
Carol Vanstone: Jennifer Aniston
Mary: Kate McKinnon
Walter Davis: Courtney B Vance
Trina: Jillian Bell
Jeremy: Rob Corddry
Allison: Vanessa Bayer
Fred: Randall Park
Joel: Sam Richardson
Nate: Karan Soni
Meghan: Jamie Chung
Savannah: Abbey Lee
Carla: Da’Vine Joy Randolph
Tim: Andrew Leeds
Drew: Oliver Cooper
Kelsey: Chloe Wepper
Ezra: Matt Walsh
Himself: Jimmy Butler
Rodney: Nick Peine
Bartender – Ice Luge: Nick Madrick
Young Girl: Summer Fontana
Reviewer of movies, videogames and music since 1994. Aortic valve operation survivor from the same year. Running DVDfever.co.uk since 2000. Nobel Peace Prize winner 2021.