Office Christmas Party
At the Cinemark
So “Office Christmas Party” serves up stale eggnog with a side of mediocre mayhem.
But such a crass adventure in R-rated holiday entertainment, does provide an excuse to try to list the 10 best party movies of all-time.
Before taking a shot at such a list, let’s dismiss and dispense “Office Christmas Party” quickly.
For starters, Jennifer “Friends” Anniston has zero tastes in scripts -- again. I will say for the 712th time that I believe she’s got Oscar talent that’s being totally wasted because she’s miscast in bad roles. But that’s her fault: “Just Say No” until the right script comes along, Jennifer!
But Jennifer is not the only wasted talent. SNL’s Kate McKinnon, by far the funniest character, should be ashamed also. She’s another “A” talent slumming in this predictable descent into debauchery.
TJ Miller unconvincingly channels his inner Russell Brand, playing a wild boss. Jason Bateman is the innocent amidst the wild bunch.
The plot finds a group of oppressed office workers defying orders to hold the ultimate party at work after hours. They trash the joint in honor of the season.
Reminder: crazy movies can be well written! But this one seems to have let the cast loose with the director hollering, “improvise, improvise” which they misheard as “be silly and get stupid.”
Yes, 120 minutes does produce 12 minutes of really funny stuff. Disappointing ratio.
Back to the best all-time party movies. I can think of eight deserving nominees that sort of fall into the party movie category, if we stretch the meaning of “party” a bit. Why not? It’s my ball, so it’s my rules.
Here are eight nominees to watch while partying during the holidays. Apologies to ones I’ve temporarily forgotten. Notice that many of these launched careers (Ages of cast at time of film noted).
1. “Animal House” (1978). “Food fight!” “Toga Party!” Horse in the dean’s office. John Belushi (24) owns this classic frat fiasco. Still funny.
2. “American Graffiti” (1973). OK, I’m fudging a little on “party” here, but there’s a drag race and lots of fun at Mel’s Drive In that seems like a high school graduation party to me. George Lucas directs Harrison Ford (31), Ron Howard (19), Richard Dreyfuss (26), Wolfman Jack.
3. “Up in Smoke” (1978). Different kind of party, in a haze. Millennials don’t know how funny Cheech (33) and Chong (40) were/are. They are still around, perhaps hanging out and puffing in Boulder, Colorado?
4. “Risky Business” (1983). The fund-raising party that launched Tom Cruise (21) – not sure if that’s a good thing or not. Commits multiple equity violations – raising the perpetual question of whether or not satire and comedy can be given a pass “to cross the PC line.”
5. “Dazed and Confused” (1993). Early teen-fun film by Richard Linklater (“Boyhood”) with Ben Affleck (21), Matthew McConaughey (24) and Milla Jovovich (18). Ends with Alice Cooper’s classic “School’s Out for Summer.” Rolling Stone magazine once asked: “The question before us is whether Alice Cooper is a threat to civilization itself or merely to our beloved rock & roll.”
6. “American Pie” (1999). A party movie? Well, graduation party. A memorable ensemble movie with a well-chosen cast. Raunchy, with lots of enjoyable moments, some inappropriate ones and a bit of culminating tenderness. Alyson Hannigan (25), Jason Biggs (21).
7. “Fast Times at Ridgemont High” (1982). Cameron Crowe (“Almost Famous”) directs Sean Penn (22), Phoebe Cates (19), Forrest Whitaker, Nicholas Cage and others in tales of teens that became a cult film – in part because of Phoebe’s sexy pool scene.
8. “Hangover” (2009). Tiger in a hotel bathroom. Baby hanging from the front pack of “daddy” Zach Galifianakis (40). ’Nuff said.