Kate McKinnon and Her Kia Sedona Are the Real Stars of ‘Office Christmas Party’
I wanted so much for this year’s new adult Christmas comedy, Office Christmas Party, to be as funny, if not funnier, than last year’s standout The Night Before. And with an amazing lead and supporting cast, which included the likes of Jason Bateman, T.J. Miller, Olivia Munn, Jennifer Aniston, Kate McKinnon, Vanessa Bayer, Jillian Bell, Rob Corddry, and Courtney B. Vance, it had all the makings to achieve my wish. So why didn’t it?
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By no means do I wish to discourage anyone from going to see this. If there’s anything the world needs more of right now, it’s laughter at stupid jokes and some Christmas spirit; Office Christmas Party delivers both. What it lacks, however, is strong pacing (the jokes seem sometimes few and far between) and fully developed characters that we can care about. I spent much of the movie wondering why I was supposed to care about Josh Parker’s (Bateman) divorce and his boring romantic pairing with Tracey Hughes (Munn).
In fact, their relationship in the film is so underdeveloped and unnecessary that I spent the first half of the film thinking that Olivia Munn’s character was a lesbian, based on some comment she made about her girlfriend working in PR. Of course, she meant “girlfriend” in the way that a soccer mom would use the word, but for a good 45 minutes, I was thoroughly impressed by how progressive the film was for making her a lesbian and not having it define her entire character. Womp.
The plot of the film is pretty simple. Mean CEO Carol Vanstone (Aniston) is threatening to close down the Chicago branch of her company, ZenoTek, which is run by her people-person brother, Clay (Miller)—or at least fire 40% of the staff. But if Clay can land a huge account with a man named Walter Davis (Vance), Carol will keep the branch open. And how will they land the account with the old businessman who wants to work with an organization that has a good company culture? By inviting him to an insane Christmas party that rivals that of the party in Sisters or the night that the Three Best Friends That Anyone Could Have had in The Hangover—even though Carol has expressly forbidden any type of Christmas party.
And so the saga begins. The idea isn’t really anything new: a movie about a massive party for people well past the partying age, with no inhibitions and no real consequences that can’t be explained away in an hour and a half. The movie is saved, however, by SNL’s gift to the world, Kate McKinnon, who plays Mary, a PC-driven human resources manager who is hell-bent—or heck-bent, rather—on making sure everybody follows the rules and does nothing to offend. She even wears a holiday sweater that includes all the major seasonal holidays, but that leaves out Satanists, as Jeremy (Corddry) slyly points out.
McKinnon, who is most famous for her portrayal of Hillary Clinton on Saturday Night Live, is perfect in every role she plays, and she does not disappoint here. Toward the end of the film, the plot thickens when Clay is kidnapped by a pimp (hilariously portrayed by the underappreciated Jillian Bell) and must be rescued by his coworkers. McKinnon’s Mary joins the charge by offering up her Kia Sedona to hunt down Clay, delivering what might be the best line from the movie—“It’s a Kia; it’s what God would drive!”—before peeling out of a parking lot like Dom Toretto.
Speaking of Dom Toretto, there is a quite a bit of good car chase action, which is surprising for a movie whose title suggests the entire plot will take place in an office. Clay even references Fast and Furious in his dream to jump a drawbridge mid-draw. The climax of the movie actually involves Clay, the pimp, and her prostitute speeding down a street to make the jump, with the Kia Sedona in hot pursuit.
The Kia Sedona, I should add, is full of parrot cages—or parrot condos, as Mary calls them, and so do her parrots. The Sedona takes a heavy beating throughout the remainder of the movie, with the sliding door even falling off (Little Miss Sunshine, anyone?), but ultimately it survives the movie, lucky for Mary.
There is a lot of good stuff in this movie—T.J. Miller’s and Jennifer Aniston’s weird wrestling relationship that foreshadows Jennifer’s badass showdown near the end of the movie; Fortune Feimster’s cameo as a first-time Uber driver; Jesus saying he’s happy because “it’s my birthday”; and Karan Soni’s (who was as adorably awkward in this as he was in Safety Not Guaranteed, where I first saw him) meet and greet with Jillian’s pimp character, to name a few—but ultimately, the movie lacks the true creativity and constant laughs that I expected.
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I still say go see Office Christmas Party. See it because it’s Christmas and Christmas movies are always magical, inherently; see it because Kate McKinnon will crack you up; see it because there’s a really cool car chase involving a freaking Kia Sedona. Just don’t set the bar too high, and smile—it is Christmas, after all.
Also, this is me at my company’s office Christmas party. You’re welcome.
Photo Source: Paramount Pictures
Timothy Moore takes his leadership inspiration from Michael Scott, his writing inspiration from Mark Twain, and his dancing inspiration from every drunk white guy at a wedding. When Tim is not writing about cars, he’s working on his novel or reading someone else’s, geeking out over strategy board games, hiking with his pooch, or channeling his inner Linda Belcher over beers with his friends. See more articles by Timothy.