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[Review] ‘Office Christmas Party’ Regifts Very Meh-rry Comedy

Quite a few people I know seem to have a holiday family tradition that involves going to the movies. Some make it a point to turn up at the cinema on Thanksgiving to watch the latest animated Disney offering. Some head to the theater on Christmas Day to catch a big film together, with the type of flick decided based on what family members are participating that year. Some make it a point to see whatever latest holiday comedy has been churned out by the studio system each season. There always seems to be one. This year, Paramount’s Office Christmas Party is absolutely that film, although it’s not alone (i.e. Bad Santa 2, Almost Christmas).

As a “holiday tradition” slice of entertainment, Office Christmas Party will do the trick. It will make you smile, cringe, giggle, chuckle, and maybe even occasionally outright laugh. It’s a cinematic slice of comfort food. It’s sticky, sweet, and you might feel a bit bad for partaking, but in the moment it works. If that is all you are looking for going into it, this movie will deliver.

If, however, you are hoping for something a bit more transcendent, you’re in for some disappointment. No, this is not a new holiday classic in the making. No, you will probably not feel the urge every year to pop it in your Blu-ray player, record it off of television, or stream it off your favorite digital media service. This isn’t a Scrooged, a National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, or a The Ref. That’s fine, because it doesn’t have to be.

Movies are allowed to be disposable entertainment. All too often we expect everything we see to sweep us off our feet and in the end we are only hurting ourselves. Yes, sometimes movies are outright bad, but there’s nothing wrong with a flick being what used to be called a “programmer”. A programmer is generally considered to be a mid-budgeted film containing a likeable, recognizable cast inhabiting a (mostly) familiar cinematic scenario. That is exactly what Office Christmas Party is: a holiday comedy programmer.

Jason Bateman, Olivia Munn, Kate McKinnon, Jennifer Aniston, T.J. Miller, Randall Park, and company will make you laugh during the course of this tale of comedic calamity. They will do so in almost every way that you expect them to, because they are all playing different variations on their own well-honed comedic schticks. There are no outside of the box performances coming from this rather talented cast, nor are the scripted shenanigans anything new. You’ve seen this all before. Considering that this hails from the filmmakers who brough us Blades of Glory and The Switch, you shouldn’t be too surprised by that revelation.

If that sounds appealing to you, you will probably walk out of this movie with a smile on your face. You’ll forget most of what transpired during its running time by the time you reach your car, but you probably won’t feel ripped off. If all of this sounds utterly unappealing, then consider yourself warned. Is Office Christmas Party for you? Take a gander at the trailer below and decide for yourself, as it is a spot on representation of what you’re going to get this weekend.

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