The track record for movies based on Saturday Night Live sketches isn’t a great one. To be honest, you probably can count the successes on one hand. Wayne’s World and Coneheads, some might make a case for A Night At The Roxbury and Superstar. I will tell you how much I loved MacGruber although it probably performed the worst out of all of them. Now, they try it again with what I think to be an absolute stretch from television to the big screen, Office Christmas Party. The cast is big and filled with favorites, including Saturday Night Live current heavyweights Kate McKinnon and Vanessa Bayer. Anchored by the leads Jason Bateman, Olivia Munn, T.J. Miller and Jennifer Aniston, the movie has a lot of potential to be a holiday gut buster.
The film is about the Chicago branch of a technology company called Zenotek, run by one-half of a couple of sibling CEOs (Miller and Aniston), who were handed the company after their father passed away. One the day of the office Christmas party, Carol (Aniston), the overseeing CEO, tells Clay (Miller) that the party is canceled, bonuses are canceled and he must lay off forty percent of the staff. Clay bands together with his friend and employee Josh (Bateman) and his assistant Tracey (Munn) to pull in a big fish client to save the company by wooing him at a massive Christmas party that they’re still throwing without Carol’s consent.
The brows are considerably low for Office Christmas Party and with the already mentioned cast members as well as Randall Park, Courtney B. Vance, Jillian Bell and Rob Corddry, all amazing improvisers, this is where I should be telling you how hysterical this movie is.
Unfortunately, that would be a lie. This movie seems to never get to a level of comedy that is the caliber of the cast assembled. All the jokes are the easy and lazy ones, besides a few that only got a soft chuckle out of me and every subplot is horribly predictable to the point that you can telegraph the entire movie. Then there’s the piece of tech Munn’s character is developing to save the company that logically makes absolutely no sense at all. The forethought on this movie is, to the surprise of no one, very low.
This year’s Christmas comedy releases of Bad Santa 2 and Office Christmas Party make me think of last year’s Seth Rogen romp film The Night Before, that had me damn near rolling in the aisles with laughter, while these haven’t even come close to the bar that it set. For the entire duration of Office Christmas Party, I was waiting for the movie to hit the point of hilarity that I’ve come to expect from a lot of these cast members but, aside from the delivery of lines from Miller, McKinnon and, to some extent, Jillian Bell, this movie never comes through on a single jolly belly laugh and is really just a lump of comedy coal and is completely forgettable. Swing and a miss, Saturday Night Live. 2/5