There isn’t a lot of difference between the crude sexual humor and vulgarity of the recent “Bad Santa 2” and this week’s “Office Christmas Party.” Both Christmas-themed comedies traffic in groin-fixated humor and foul language.
There is, however, one big difference. “Office Christmas Party” feels like it was made by happy — albeit smutty — elves, and not disgruntled sweatshop workers.
The film’s success is due to the talented cast and co-directors Josh Gordon and Will Speck. Jennifer Aniston plays Carol Vanstone, the Grinch-y matriarch of a tech firm who is threatening layoffs on the day of the Chicago branch’s annual holiday party, unless her chief technology officer (Jason Bateman) and the branch’s manager (T.J. Miller) can sign up a potential client (Courtney B. Vance).
Cue the party, which Vanstone had wanted to cancel, but which now is the only enticement the firm can use to seduce the customer. What kind of party is this, exactly? One that serves up eggnog, via an ice sculpture in the shape of a priapic gnome, and includes an artificial snow machine that accidentally blasts Vance’s character with a face full of cocaine, brought by the prostitute (Abbey Lee) who has been hired by a lovelorn IT worker (Karan Soni) to pose as his girlfriend.
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Yes, it’s that type of party. Meaning: one filled with easy stereotypes and silly jokes, all of which are rendered with such glee that somehow makes them less offensive than they ought to be. The heightened unreality of the film gives Bateman an opportunity to access his put-out sardonic deadpan, and for Miller— and his cast of supporting court jesters — to play the buffoon.
It also makes it easy to forget your own troubles, as long as you are willing to leave good taste at the coat check.
‘Office Christmas Party’
Rated R for crude sexual content and language, drug use and graphic nudity. 1:45. Fayette Mall, Frankfort, Georgetown, Hamburg, Nicholasville, Richmond, Winchester.