Directors: Josh Gordon and Will Speck
Cast: Jason Bateman, T.J. Miller, Olivia Munn, Jennifer Aniston
Running time: 105 mins
Release date: December 7th
Search Party, a movie starring T.J. ‘I’m In Everything’ Miller that sat on the shelf for two years before a quiet release in America in May (it hit here a year earlier) was a film proving that simply assembling a cast of great American comedy actors is not enough to guarantee a good time. With this in mind, some will see the extraordinary cast of Office Christmas Party – featuring Jason Bateman, T.J. ‘I’m In Everything’ Miller and half the casts of Veep and Saturday Night Live – and be forgiven for still having doubts about how good the film could ultimately be. Depending on how stocked you are on Christmas spirit, you can relax. It’s arrived just in time to go on the list of the year’s best comedies.
Jason Bateman plays a Jason Bateman type, a put-upon CTO who finds himself struggling to keep the office afloat while surrounded by an oddball staff, Miller’s sweet-but-daft manager and the looming threat of cuts from hard-nosed CEO Jennifer Aniston, who also happens to be Miller’s bitter sister. For reasons of ‘needing to make a movie have a story’, it’s decided that the best way to save the branch is to have a massive Christmas party in the office. It’s not taxing stuff, but if you came to Office Christmas Party for its riveting plot you may need to rethink your priorities. It’s simple but charming storytelling, and its sensibilities hit in all the right spots to give you that fuzzy holiday feeling. As long as you have fuzzy spots for bipolar pimps and 3D-printed genitalia.
Willing to combine saccharine sweetness with a sense of crude, zany misadventure is something this film shares with its festive progenitor A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas and it succeeds just as well at being surprisingly hilarious and goofy with a few poignant moments sprinkled on top. It helps that the cast is made up of some of the funniest folks in America right now. Bateman and Aniston are as reliable as in the four movies they’ve made together before this, while Miller, Olivia Munn, Kate McKinnon and Vanessa Bayer all play lovable characters with moments of greatness. Fans of Veep will be happy to see a different but equally hilarious side to Randall Park, Matt Walsh and especially Sam Richardson, shedding his usual socially awkward schtick to MC the festivities. 22 Jump Street’s ever-brilliant Jillian Bell even pops in for a few great scenes.
The film’s greatest strength is the handling of its ensemble; everyone gets a funny scene or at least a funny line and, with the exception of Rob Corddry and Jamie Chung, it doesn’t feel like to many people get lost in the mix. Yes, the plot is wafer-thin and gets increasingly outlandish, but this isn’t a movie that’s meant to be taken too seriously. It’s Christmas after all and what says Christmas more than fun, friends, family and deep-throating eggnog from an ice sculpture?