Office Christmas Party

Posted on December 8, 2016 at 5:33 pm

B-
Lowest Recommended Age: Preschool
MPAA Rating: Rated R for crude sexual content and language throughout, drug use and graphic nudity
Profanity: Very strong, crude, explicit, and graphic language throughout
Alcohol/ Drugs: Drinking and drugs (played for comedy)
Violence/ Scariness: Comic peril and violence with some injuries
Diversity Issues: Diverse characters
Date Released to Theaters: December 9, 2016
Copyright 2016 Paramount
Copyright 2016 Paramount

Not since “Snakes on a Plane” has there been a movie whose title so clearly explains exactly what the premise is and what the audience should expect. Indeed, star T.J. Miller (“Deadpool,” “Silicon Valley”) has said in interviews that he took the role based on the title alone (and his past relationship with the directors), without ever reading the script. And, honestly, it does not matter to its intended audience. They just want to see comic, outrageous, chaos, and that is just what this movie delivers, with an all-star cast of top comic talent. Each gets a chance to show off, and, as slob comedies go, this one has a winningly sweet heart.

Clay (Miller) runs the Chicago office of his late father’s software business. Well, “runs” is perhaps not quite the correct term. He more or less presides over it, in a benign but bro-ish way. The actual grown-up supervision is performed by Josh (Jason Bateman), a very responsible guy, but subdued following his divorce. And the actual productivity falls to Tracey (Olivia Munn), a coding genius.

Clay’s sister Carol (Jennifer Aniston) is the tough, smart, no-nonsense boss of the whole enterprise and she intended to shut down Clay’s all-nonsense, money-losing branch. She cancels the Christmas party and tells Clay everyone will be laid off unless he can land a $14 million new client, Walter Davis (Courtney B. Vance). Other characters in the office include Clay’s assistant Allison (“SNL’s” Vanessa Bayer), a single mom and sort of office mom, too, fussy HR head Mary (“SNL’s” Kate McKinnon), office complainer Jeremy (Rob Corddry), new hire Fred (Randall Park), and a manager named Nate (Karan Soni) whose staff is convinced he is lying about having a hot model girlfriend and has challenged him to bring her to the party.

You can guess where it goes from here, and you know whether that is your idea of fun or whether you’d prefer to stay home and re-watch “A Christmas Story” or whatever cinematic eggnog is on the Hallmark Channel. “Gets out of hand” does not begin to convey the extent of the very bad choices made by all involved, with intentional and unintentional abuse of substances, and — an update to the traditional photocopying of body parts — using a 3D printer for a full-size model. There’s a chase, some bad romance, some better romance, and a trip to the hospital. Jillian Bell, as always, is a highlight, essentially repeating her “22 Jump Street” role. This time, instead of a drug dealer, she’s a pimp.

Perhaps the best that can be said is that it is more fun than any actual office Christmas party.

Parents should know that this film is a very raunchy comedy with explicit sexual references, situations, and male and female nudity and kinkiness, crude language, drinking and drunkenness, drugs, and comic peril and violence with some injuries.

Family discussion: Would you want to work for Josh or Clay? Why was Carol jealous of Clay?

If you like this, try: “Old School” and “The Night Before”

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Comedy Movies -- format

Hot Tub Time Machine

Posted on June 29, 2010 at 8:00 am

I can understand why John Cusack, producer and star of this movie, would like to find a time machine to take him back to 1986. That was the last time he was making popular movies.
With the most explanatory title since “Snakes on a Plane,” we know where this is going, literally. Four shlubs, unhappy with their lives, go for a ski weekend at a place where the three middle-aged friends used to live it up. The fourth member is a shlub from the next generation who has never had a chance to live it up. At the resort, they go into a hot tub and faster than you can say Spandau Ballet, they are back in 1986. Three of them have a chance to correct their mistakes and the fourth has a chance to find out something about where he came from that will surprise no one. Within the first ten minutes we see a bong, a character throwing dog poop in someone’s face, and a suicide attempt. Party on!
Can you guess what happens next? Will there be jokes about cheesy 80’s trends? Someone is wearing a “Miami Vice” t-shirt. Will there be jokes about things people in the 80’s didn’t know were coming? Someone from the 80’s asks cluelessly, “What is email?” Will men who never figured out how to be grown-ups go back to being kids and learn that they didn’t know how to do that, either? Will there be appearances by performers from the 80’s intended to make us feel nostalgic but in reality just reminding us of how old they are now? Watch for Chevy Chase and, reminding us in addition about how much worse this is than “Back to the Future,” Crispin Glover. And then, just to throw everything possible into the mix, let’s add some raunchy humor with a lot of cheerful sexism and homophobia. Its slacker vibe matches its era, but it’s not unpretentious; it’s just lazy.
It tries hard to be outrageous, but more often it’s dull. Once again, and I’m just going to have to keep saying this until they get the message, referring to something is not the same as making a joke about it. And, for the record, let me add that jokes about and the appearance of bodily fluids are not inherently funny, either. On the other hand, if you disagree, you will love this movie.
The few bright spots include the always-welcome Craig Robinson and the on-the-brink-of-breaking-through Lizzy Caplan, still just one great part away from the big time. The un-bright spots include pretty much everything else.

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Comedy Comic book/Comic Strip/Graphic Novel
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