Movie Review: Office Christmas Party

  • Daleth

    “This film completely lacks structure”?!? I don’t even know where to begin with a comment so unjustified. Bust out your Syd Field or John Yorke, jot down the turning points in this film, and you’ll see it’s a meticulously structured, well plotted comedy. The plot is ridiculous, of course, because this is a farce (in the best possible sense), but it’s a well-structured farce.

    Inciting incident? Evil sister tells freewheeling brother the office holiday party is canceled and threatens to make him lay off 40% of his staff.

    End of Act I/kickoff to Act II? Freewheeling brother and friends (Normal Guy and Hacker Brainiac Girl with whom he is in love) fail at their last hope (landing the huge account with the Courtney Vance character) and decide to go for broke: they will throw the office party, invite him to it, and make it so amazing and over the top that he changes his mind and wants to work with them.

    Midpoint? After more failures (Vance is unimpressed by the party and starts to leave a couple of times) and a stroke of insane luck, Vance gets into the groove, the party hits a new level of completely over the top debauchery, and a coke-addled Vance announces to everyone that he will give the contract to our heroes. The company is saved! Everyone’s jobs are saved! Problem solved!… Except…

    Of course it’s not solved, because the movie is only half over. A series of increasingly bad complications ensue, most of them direct payoffs of earlier setups (evil sister finds out about the party and shows up; she reveals something that makes brother and Hacker Brainiac Girl think Normal Guy has betrayed them; freewheeling brother gets drunk–after having told us all earlier that he was on a two-drink limit because “bad things happen when I get drunk”–and goes off with a hooker and violent pimp who were nearby because one employee had hired the hooker to pretend to be his girlfriend in order to impress his colleagues, etc.).

    End of Act II/Kickoff of Act III: Our team sets off in hot pursuit of drunk brother and his pimp/hooker entourage, to save him from certain doom.
    That sequence culminates in a car chase and massive crash (a climax that’s also a payoff, since early in Act I the brother had talked about jumping a drawbridge in a car), which knocks out the city’s internet, thus creating the opportunity for Hacker Brainiac Girl to try out her amazing new technology, which restores the city’s internet, thus saving the company and reconciling Evil Sister with Freewheeling Brother. All is well! The company is saved! Everyone’s relationships are mended!

    Moral of the story (my story, not the movie’s): Just because it’s a farce of sheer mayhem and debauchery doesn’t mean it’s unstructured. Au contraire, mon frere.