Thursday, April 6, 2017

Office Christmas Party Blu-ray Review

Reviewed by Jami Ferguson
In Office Christmas Party, when the CEO tries to close her hard-partying brother’s branch, he and his Chief Technical Officer must rally their co-workers.Office Christmas Party released this week on Blu-ray with DVD and Digital Copy included. The Blu-ray combo pack offers both theatrical and extended/unrated cuts. The film stars and ensemble cast and is team directed by Josh Gordon and Will Speck (Blades of Glory, The Switch).

Film (3 1/2 out of 5 stars)
As the film begins, Josh Parker (Jason Bateman) is finalizing his divorce. He has agreed to pay alimony and give up his house, but he still seems to have a fairly positive outlook. He is the Chief Technical Officer at the Chicago branch of Zenoteck, a tech company. His boss, Clay (T.J. Miller) is a fun loving and childish man who is accused of having a “mind like a drunk baby.” Josh works closely with the Lead Systems Engineer Tracey (Olivia Munn), and must remind her that he is in fact her boss.

After signing his divorce papers, and being flipped off by a young caroler on the street, Josh hopes his day will start looking up. Just steps off the elevator, HR Director Mary (Kate McKinnon) already has an issue for Josh to deal with – the visible cleavage of employee Meghan (Jamie Chung). May’s multi-denominational, all-inclusive holiday sweater tells all you need to know about her. Clay then shows Josh the mouse pads corporate wants to give out for Christmas, in lieu of Christmas bonuses. The Chicago branch was special to Clay’s late father and he reminisces about how his dad ran the company. Clay’s father used to dress up like Santa and give gifts to the staff. The holidays were a big deal. Clay whisks Josh away for a little Christmas shopping, where he attempts to steer Clay away from HR problems like personal massagers.

Upon return to the office, they are made aware that CEO Carol (Jennifer Aniston) has arrived. She tears down Christmas decorations and insults the staff. She is cold, mean, and happens to be Clay’s sister. Carol announces 40% layoffs and demands cancellation of the Christmas party. The team asks for one more chance to save their employees and Carol gives them until the end of the quarter (2 days later) to turn things around. 

Josh, Tracy and Clay promise to land a $14 million dollar account in order to save the branch. They pitch to Walter Davis (Courtney B. Vance) of Data City. He tells them he plans to go with Dell instead because he is unhappy with their culture. Walter knows that cuts at Zenoteck are imminent and comments that his own company isn’t even going to cover his breakfast. Recognizing that Walter is old school, they decide to win him over by showing him a good time, at the company Christmas Party. If Walter has a good time, and sees how much they care about their employees, they expect to win his account.

Highlights or low points of the party (depending on your sense of humor) include sex, drugs, fire, hookers and pimps and Clay dressed as Santa on a throne from Game of Thrones. Clay’s business motto is “shoot for the moon and land on the sun.” No one quite understands that but he is surprisingly productive at planning the party. To say shenanigans ensue is a true understatement. 

Office Christmas Party is admittedly predictable. The dialogue and jokes aren’t particularly hilarious but the delivery is pretty funny. It was the little things that made me laugh, like two co-workers ribbing their boss for having an imaginary girlfriend. Both Josh and Clay are incredibly likable characters, thanks to the actors Jason Bateman and T.J. Miller. Casting was spot on for this film. There was clearly an environment that encouraged improvisation, resulting in some funny quips. The primary and supporting cast sells the film.
Video (4 out of 5 stars)
Having recently watched and reviewed many 4K ultra high definition releases, it’s hard not to watch a Blu-ray imagining how much better it could be. Nonetheless, Office Christmas Party’s 1080p transfer is pretty good. The snowy streets of Chicago and the interior of the Zenoteck building are both dreary environments. Skin textures could offer more detail but wrinkles and imperfections are visible. Black levels are deep with noticeable noise. The film is fairly flat overall and the color palette intentionally muted.
Audio (4 out of 5 stars)
Office Christmas Party’s DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 soundtrack performs well. When the party gets started, it’s all about the music and the crowd. The tunes are appropriately muted as they would be in a true office party/DJ environment. It would be off to have the sound come through crystal clear. The bass in the background is appropriate. Dialogue is clear and intelligible. The Blu-ray offers an above average listening experience.
Extras (2 1/2 out of 5 stars)
I was surprised to see such a short list of extras, but did thoroughly enjoy what was offered. The Blu-ray offers both theatrical and unrated extended editions with an extra 5 minutes in the latter version. 
  • Throwing an Office Christmas Party Featurette (11:52) - Hear direction like “more effed up” and see interviews with cast and crew. Jennifer Aniston and Jason Bateman talk about being together for a 5th movie. Includes discussion about working with two directors, filming locations and having the office be a character. This is where we learn that the "Game of Thrones" throne was actually from the show thanks to a mutual producer. Also includes many of Rob Corddry’s unsolicited thoughts.
  • Commentary – Directors Josh Gordon and Will Speck provide feature length audio commentary on the theatrical version only. They start off with b.s. about creating the opening logos themselves and continue joking throughout. They express appreciation for their cast and discuss wardrobe, locations and history. This is a sarcastic but informative commentary track.
  • Outtakes (8:39) – 13 named outtakes available individually or with play all function. These are basically line-o-ramas and are amusing.
  • Deleted Scenes (2:59) –Additional scenes not included in extended version - Iron Throne, Jeremy on Santa's Lap, Are You Feeling This?, Josh Gets Into Specs, and Alternate Ending. Available individually or with play all function.
Summary (3 1/2 out of 5 stars)
Office Christmas Party is the second inappropriate Christmas movie in my collection. It sits alongside The Night Before, and has a similar sense of humor. The gags are over the top and the party is pretty crazy. This isn’t the type of film that you judge for plausibility, it’s the type you just enjoy. The cast really makes this film, and the Directing team clearly offers an energetic atmosphere, which leads to a fun film. Although the film is not nearly as raunchy as I expected, even in the extended edition, it’s not recommended for those who are easily offended. Recommended.

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