(The following review kind of contains spoilers for Office Christmas Party. Trust me… you really don’t care. I’ll try to keep them vague anyway. But they’re not ruining anything for you.)
When I was but a wee lad, there was a TV show called USA: Up All Night. It was a Friday night movie show on the USA Network. You know the type, a host introduced a movie and then would have little bumper skits included every time we come back from commercial. That sort of thing. It ran for ten seasons starting in 1989 and was hosted alternately by Gilbert Gottfried and Rhonda Shear and to this day, I can’t decide which one of them had the weirder voice. And I know everyone is probably automatically inclined to say “obviously it was Gilbert Gottfried” but I submit that if you had that gut reaction, you obviously have never seen the show and heard Rhonda say “Welcome back to USA UP! All Night” because those of us who have are now hearing that phrase in her voice right now and saying… “yeah… I just don’t know.”
Anyway, UP All Night (see you’re still hearing it) basically only had one movie that aired on it. Ok, not really. I mean, there were like 900 episodes or something… so there were technically tons of movies that aired on it. But they’re all basically the same movie… I like to call it “Save the Car Wash with Boobs!” For those of you who have never seen the movie before… well… Yes you have! The plot goes something like this…
There’s these two guys who are best friends but couldn’t be any different. They’re nebulously defined teenagers. Maybe high school seniors. Maybe college freshmen… or at least the characters are… the actors are clearly in their mid 20s… maybe even 30s… but lets just roll with it. Anyway, you have one guy who is a plucky and goofy Party Boy and his Best Friend is a respectable and smart student who usually tries to do the right thing, but his unfettered homosocial bro-love for party boy always gets him into all kinds of trouble. The two of them work for a family carwash that is owned by one of their uncles (does it really matter which one? I didn’t think so). Anyway, it turns out that the car wash isn’t doing so well lately. And unless it makes a jillion dollars in the next three days, the bank is totally going to foreclose on the loan. It’s nothing personal, except it is… because the Loan Officer from the bank has a longtime grudge against either party boy or Uncle Carwash, probably because Loan Officer didn’t get laid enough in high school. So it’s going to suck. After this weekend, everyone will be out of a job. But not so fast, because Party Boy has an idea. We’re going to save the Car Wash by having a boobfest! We’re going to raise all the money we need in 72 hours by making all of the really hot girls who happen to work at the carwash wear bikinis! Best Friend doesn’t think this is a great idea. But he doesn’t have a better one. Plus, Nerdy Girl tells him that we have to do something, and it just might work! See, Nerdy Girl also works at the carwash. And she has a longtime crush on Best Friend, but he never really notices her because she’s nerdy and plain… well, honestly she’s just as hot as all the hot girls at the car wash… maybe even hotter…. but she maybe wears glasses, a ponytail and a respectable button up shirt or something… so that makes her one of the dudes, and Best Friend is kind of clueless about these things. So anyway, they have the boobfest, and it’s CRAZY! People are drunk! People are high! There’s boobs everywhere! There’s so much boob that the bikinis just can’t contain all the boob and so inevitably boob just falls out and it’s right there in your face! So much boob! Also, Nerdy Girl gets in on the boob action, cuz it turns out that if she takes off her respectable button up shirt, and puts on a bikini, she totally has boobs too! So Best Friend finally notices her and they totally hook up and fuck in the back office and she takes off her bikini top and yep… that’s definitely some quality boob there. Unfortunately, in the end we find out that the boobfest came up like smidge shy of raising the jillion dollars by the last day. Probably because Loan Officer did something to sabotage the whole thing that Best Friend overlooked because he’s too good and trusting and busy trying to find a respectable non-boobfest solution to the problem and Party Boy was too drunk and busy partying to catch on in time and probably ends up being kidnapped by some conveniently random henchmen of some sort necessitating him being rescued by Best Friend and Nerdy Girl and maybe a couple other random boob girls just for show. And that distraction makes the gang just a bit shy of their goal. So the carwash is totally going to be foreclosed on and everyone will be fired. Except, in an exciting twist, a Wealthy Investor just happened to be at the boobfest too. And he had a great time because that was the BEST FUCKING BOOBFEST EVER!!! Plus, he’s probably impressed by all the wonderful friendship and camaraderie that the boobgang has. So he’s totally going to help out and everyone lives happily ever after! Yay!!!! Well sort of… the characters do. Since the movies aren’t really very good and no one has much talent except for having really amazing boobs, basically the entire cast soon turns 40 and can no longer even remotely believably play raunchy teenagers anymore, so none of them are ever heard from again.
You know… That movie! Just put on Cinemax tonight at like 4am and it will totally be on. It’s not always a car wash. Sometimes it’s a drive-in. Or a ski school. Maybe a surf shop. But you get the idea.
Anyway, the thing with Up All Night is that being a respectable basic cable channel, unlike those smut vendors over at Cinemax, they certainly didn’t want to show nudity. So they took that movie and the edited out all of the boob. The results were… well… something… Basically cutting all the boob out means the movie is really short, so instead you replace the boob with skits featuring Shear or Gottfried and it’s kinda weird and not very good unless you’re at home alone and drinking heavily on a Friday night. Which is why no one actually remembers any of these movies or that show. If you’re going to take the boob out of the boobfest, you need to try to find SOMETHING to put in there to make up for it.
And that’s what Office Christmas Party was. This time, the car wash is a tech company. Instead of putting a bunch boobaliscious nebulously teen actors in it, they made it “original” by raising everyone to middle-aged and casting big name actors. So instead of some teen heartthrobs, Party Boy is now played by TJ Miller and Best Friend is played Jason Bateman. Jennifer Anniston plays Loan Officer and Nerdy Girl is Olivia Munn. The problem is… that’s not really enough. I mean, there’s nothing wrong with the movie. It’s just that there’s nothing right with it either. There’s barely a movie there. There’s no real acting in it. I just watched it last night — less than 24 hours ago — and without looking at the IMDB page, I literally cannot remember the actual names of any of the characters. I don’t think it matters. Everyone is just typecast. The film relies on you saying “ok, I’ve seen this actor before, so I know the character s/he is playing.” Olivia Munn is her basic snide and disaffected nerd girl character. You will remember her from Newsroom. Jennifer Anniston is the bitchy boss character that she has played in Horrible Bosses and other stuff and Jason Bateman is sort of just a generic middle-aged white guy lead… he’s done it in several films. TJ Miller… well, basically he “TJ Millers” it… That’s not an act. If you’ve seen TJ Miller in basically anything… seen him talk for more than two minutes. You basically know his entire character from this film. The rest of the boobgang is similarly type cast. Rob Corddry is the meanspirited office goofball. Kate McKinnon and Vanessa Bayer are essentially their generic characters from umpteen Saturday Night Live skits. Bayer is a sassy single mom. McKinnon is a socially awkward comedic caricature of an overly strict HR director. Courtney B. Vance is cast as the super serious Wealthy Investor, who suddenly has a great time at the boobfest. I seriously can’t remember any of their names.
And none of that makes up for the lack of boob. See, the problem is none of those big name actresses were willing to show their boobs for this movie. Munn and Anniston have done it before… but for GOOD roles. Not for this by-the-numbers overly long SNL comedy sketch. And McKinnon and Bayer certainly weren’t going to take their tops off for the first time for this nonsense. Even supporting actress Jamie Chung, who’s entire character is literally “the girl who works in the office who has nice boobs” (like, that’s all she does in the film. it’s her whole reason for being there and the jokes that regard her are pretty much about that) is too big a name to get naked for this movie. Abbey Lee, an actress and nude model, who plays the character of “sexy girlfriend of geeky guy in the office who secretly happens to be a hooker” is not naked in the movie. Clearly she should be… like it’s just obviously the only reason she exists. But she isn’t. So none of main characters are naked. But it’s a boobfest movie… like, that’s what it is… So what does the film do?
Naked extras! It totally doesn’t make sense. I mean, I guess it does. There is a wild and crazy boobfest going on. So sure, there’s going to be some nakedness in there. But it just seems REALLY gratuitous in practice. It doesn’t organically fit into the film in the way you expect from a classic boobfest film like “Save the Carwash With Boobs!” It’s not part of the story. It’s not even really male gazey. It’s just incidental. Sure it sets the tone of the boobfest, but it makes you really aware of the fact that none of the principal actors are naked. In fact, the naked extras are hardly ever even on screen with the main characters. It’s like the producers really wanted the film to be Rated R, and they submitted it to the MPAA and got back a PG-13 and someone was like “Holy shit, we made a boobfest and forgot to put any boobs in it… someone order me some titty to sprinkle on this thing!!!”
There is a scene where that implies that Rob Corrdry’s character shows his penis… but his face and penis are not on screen at the same time so I’m pretty sure it was a stunt cock. And, I will say that Courtney B. Vance does show his naked ass in the movie… because the movie may be what it is, but Courtney B. Vance is a fine actor and a fucking professional! He did what he could.
It wasn’t enough.
I didn’t really expect much out of this movie. Steph wanted to see it… I think mostly because of the cast. I saw the trailer and it is set to the theme song “Let Me Clear My Throat” by DJ Kool. That’s what sold me on it, honestly. I said a couple times that I’d be kind of disappointed if they didn’t play the song the whole hour and forty-five minutes. But I wasn’t really expecting that. I figured a boobfest with DJ Kool on the soundtrack! Middle-aged white people making fools of themselves! I’ll pay a few bucks to sit in a theater and watch that! How bad could it be?
Well, it wasn’t. DJ Kool might have been my least favorite part of it, actually. That’s my fault. I put too much pressure on him. I was hanging my hopes and dreams for the movie on that part alone. But for some reason, when the Let Me Clear My Throat part of the movie actually happened, the editor sort of butchered it. The scene itself is kind of cute. But rather than editing it and then laying the sound track in, and letting it just play in the background, the soundtrack is laid down first, so when the edits happen there are some questionable chopped up bits which makes it sound like an awful remix of DJ Kool. And I mean, what did the editor not think we’d notice, I mean this is a song that is still playing every night in da’Club after twenty years. On behalf of the American people we love this fucking song. Did you really think that we’d not notice? What the fuck is wrong with you? What are you going to do next? Butcher Atomic Dog! Fuck you editor. I mean, I’m not asking for much out of this boobfest… I’m really not but you could at least HAVE SOME FUCKING RESPECT FOR DJ KOOL!
Sorry, I had to get that off of my chest… Let me clear my throat! Ahem… ahem… cough…
Anyway. It’s not actually horrible. It’s not even bad. There’s just nothing super offensive in it… at least no more than you would expect from a Rated R comedy. And in fact, there’s probably much less. Really, the problem is that there’s nothing to it all. It needed more boob. Yes, I focused on reviewing the lack of boobs here… but that’s because there’s no real story here. There’s nothing really to talk about. I’d probably be plenty amused watching this at home on HBO one night. So long as I had enough beer, I’d think “Oh wow… Jennifer Anniston made a boobfest movie. Maybe I’ll check that out.” I wouldn’t go out of my way to change the channel. But there is really nothing here that warrants actually paying money to leave the house.
★¾☆☆☆ (1.75 out of 5 five stars) – maybe I would have given it two if they hadn’t butchered DJ Kool. Have some respect!