Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBB.
USA, 2016. Amblin Partners, Bluegrass Films, DreamWorks, Reliance Entertainment. Story by Jon Lucas, Scott Moore, Timothy Dowling, Screenplay by Justin Malen, Laura Solon, Dan Mazer. Cinematography by Jeff Cutter. Produced by Guymon Casady, Daniel Rappaport, Scott Stuber. Music by Theodore Shapiro. Production Design by Andrew Laws. Costume Design by Karen Patch. Film Editing by Jeff Groth, Evan Henke.
The Chicago branch of a software company is preparing for a mild non-denominational holiday mixer when its tough-as-nails interim CEO (an outstanding Jennifer Aniston) storms in and brings Grinch-worthy news: the branch’s profit margin under her goofy, spoiled brother (T.J. Miller) is shoddy and, rather than wait for things to improve, she is planning to shut the entire operation down, yuletide be damned. This spells bad news for senior employees Jason Bateman and Olivia Munn, so they come up with a great plan to impress the big, bad boss: if they can land a major contract with potential client Courtney B. Vance, they can prove that the office deserves to stay open and an entire floor full of people might not lose their jobs. This makes way for the film’s main raison d’etre: screw the polite cheese platters and dealcoholized sparkling wine, these people need a full-on, balls-to-the-wall Christmas party complete with profanity-laced DJ, Santa suits, tons of booze and an ice sculpture that requires you to perform oral sex on an icicle to drink egg nog. Things go from out of control to fully lawsuit-worthy in no time, with injuries, photocopied asses, cocaine accidents and reindeer drinking out of toilets before the final reckoning of morning, then pimps and gangsters and maybe even a little bridge-jumping to finish it off. So much chaos, and it’s so ridiculous, but with so great a cast and such glee taken in indulging in the mayhem, how can you not have a great time watching it? Kate McKinnon shines as the human resources manager who wears her political correctness on the outside but is revealed, with the slightest nudging, to be a horny head case with a taste for reckless driving. She’s just one of the many sly ways that this naughty film takes our elevated view of ourselves as civilized North Americans and reveals that, underneath it all, we all secretly hold being bad in high regard and hold making money even higher. The characters have to walk a long road to learn to actually care about each other, none more so than the siblings at the centre of the story, but in a world where capitalism is king, the maintaining of gainful employment supersedes all other concerns and is the only thing that can effectively deliver a happy ending. Compare this to a comedy made during the Great Depression, the kind where millionaires lose their cash but gain their souls, and you have a film that is telling you that your liberal values are actually meaningless unless you’re willing to give up your bourgeois values as well. The unnecessary part of the experience is rather too much of an emphasis on a ridiculous internet technology that Munn’s character is working on, but anything that facilitates this wonderful, rebellious party of a movie is worth waiting out.