A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Office Christmas Party is an over-the-top comedy with tons of drinking/drugs, sex, violence, and language. The titular party rapidly gets out of control and includes nearly constant substance use (everything from beer to cocaine to pot to spiked eggnog slurped from a penis-shaped ice luge). The clear implication is that the drunker and/or higher you are, the better the party is. A main character is a problem drinker who makes terrible choices when he exceeds his limit. But consequences are mostly laughed off, and everything turns out all right in the end. Expect lots of jokes about and references to sex, as well as partial nudity. Co-workers have sex on a desk (buttocks are visible), make copies of their genitals (buttocks and penis visible), and have group sex in a bathroom cubicle (breasts visible). A prostitute performs sexual acts in a bathroom (off screen), characters play strip poker, and a woman jokes about sexually harassing a male coworker. Frequent swearing includes a steady stream of "f--k," "s--t," "bitch," and more. The movie is also more violent than many edgy comedies -- though, miraculously, no one gets seriously injured or killed. Guns are held to characters' heads, characters get in brawls, and there are scenes of mayhem, including a serious car accident. A man jumps from a second-floor balcony in a party prank, and drunken partygoers start fires and hurl office equipment from high-rise windows.
What's the story?
OFFICE CHRISTMAS PARTY is an over-the-top ensemble comedy about a company holiday party that spirals out of control. Uptight Carol (Jennifer Aniston), CEO of family company Zenotek, threatens to shut down the branch run by her brother, Clay (T.J. Miller) -- and cancel the office Christmas party. So Clay and his right-hand man, Josh (Jason Bateman), plan an epic bash against her wishes to win over major client Walter Davis (Courtney B. Vance) and hopefully fend off the axe. But the party quickly gets out of hand, leaving the office a mess of chaos and destruction. Will tech whiz kid Tracey (Olivia Munn) be able to get her innovative WiFi invention up and running in time to save Zenotek? Will Clay and Carol find family unity in the middle of financial strife? One night, one party, could change everything.
Is it any good?
This over-the-top party movies isn't without its pleasures -- particularly the cast -- but it's too predictable to be a blast, and unsettling violence overshadows the jokes. Office Christmas Party's premise goes down easily enough: Clay is a party-hard, hail-fellow-well-met type who runs his business sloppily, while Carol is pinched, repressed, and all business (though, of course, she also has a heart hiding somewhere, ready to grow, Grinchlike, three sizes before the credits roll). And the rest of the characters have their own movie-ready quirks. But of course, it's all just a prelude to this movie's real point: the party.
It's fairly amusing, as these things go. Vance's prim Walter gets a faceful of cocaine due to another character's mistake with a fake-snow blower, various coworkers get busy in offices and on rooftops, Miller dresses up like Santa and rides a sleigh down the office stairs, hapless middle manager Nate (Karan Soni) gets hooked up with a spooky female pimp. But the scenes of amusing-enough wasted-people comedy are interrupted by scenes of oddly out-of-place violence -- like when Walter tries to swing from the rooftop using strung Christmas lights and lands, after a 20-foot fall, on a filing cabinet with an awful thump. In another scene, coworkers in cars race to jump over a drawbridge to prove a point; both wind up slamming into barriers. Everyone's basically fine, but it sure didn't look fine. Scenes like that contribute to an uneven tone that makes ultimately this comedy not quite as much fun as you'd hope.
Talk to your kids about ...
Do the characters face any consequences for their choices/behavior? Why is that important?
How is sex portrayed in the movie? Parents, talk to your teens about your own values regarding sex and relationships.
Movies tend to exaggerate real life for comic effect. Does going so far over the top make the movie funnier? Would a more realistic party be as funny?
Why do you think movies with this kind of content/behavior are so popular?
- In theaters: December 9, 2016
- On DVD or streaming: April 4, 2017
- Cast: Jason Bateman, T.J. Miller, Jennifer Aniston, Olivia Munn, Kate McKinnon
- Directors: Josh Gordon, Will Speck
- Studio: Paramount Pictures
- Genre: Comedy
- Topics: Holidays
- Run time: 105 minutes
- MPAA rating: R
- MPAA explanation: crude sexual content and language throughout, drug use and graphic nudity
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.