Remember when “Scrooged” was considered edgy, as far as Christmas movies go? The Bill Murray vehicle had him as the Ebenezer Scrooge to end all Scrooges, a narcissistic TV executive who just might truly not give a darn about the ghosts of Christmases past, present, and future.
Now that’s simply passe.
Christmas comedies are through-the-roof decadent these days — drugs, half-naked women, and a last-minute lesson in the spirit of the season (usually courtesy of the aforementioned drugs). Case in point: Last year’s “The Night Before” saw Seth Rogen puking during Christmas Mass, thanks to epic quantities of drugs ingested — which were a gift from his fiancée, of all people. The Christmas spirit here (played by Michael Shannon) is an actual drug dealer who may or may not be an angel. Cerebral fare, indeed.
Which brings us to “Office Christmas Party,” a flick clearly targeting the “Bad Moms” set. Jennifer Aniston plays a variation on her popular “Horrible Bosses” character, and Kate McKinnon and Jason Bateman are along for the naughty romp.
“Office Christmas Party” directors Josh Gordon and Will Speck have been making the rounds to promote the flick, and telling anyone who will listen they were actually inspired by the sappy Christmas movie glut (Hallmark movies and the like) to churn out the raunchy comedy.
“We wanted to make something for adults,” Gordon told USA Today. “The holidays are a way to get away from the pain of the year, creating something people can laugh at. That’s a gift.”
Speck insists “it’s a gift” with feeling — like the movies of old. But different. For instance, TJ Miller’s character is trying to save his coworkers’ jobs by throwing a party to impress a key client.
“Ultimately, it’s a life-affirming journey that we arrive at through an R rating.”
“There’s a lot of heart and humanity here,” Speck maintains. “Ultimately, it’s a life-affirming journey that we arrive at through an R rating.”
Because, ostensibly, the party simply could not happen without nudity and drug use actually seen on the screen.
While Aniston’s character is stuck in a Chicago snowstorm, Miller, dressed as Santa Claus, sleds down the office stairs, plowing into a nativity scene. That’s just one of the movie’s many moments of mayhem.
Others include water coolers filled with booze, flaming Christmas trees, swinging from Christmas lights, and of course, reindeer. And yes — that’s cocaine coming out of the snow machine. It’s a far leap from “The Santa Clause,” eh?
The big-screen comedy also features comedic turns by Courtney B. Vance, Olivia Munn, Vanessa Bayer, Jamie Chung, Rob Corddry, and Sam Richardson.
As far as Christmas comedies go this year, you’ve also got “Bad Santa 2,” a sequel 15 years in the making. Billy Bob Thornton is back as a perennially hungover Santa — big on theft and short on spirit.
Maybe the sweet-natured rom-coms just aren’t being greenlit these days — the fluff where John Cusack woos Kate Beckinsale over a mug of hot chocolate in “Serendipity.” Or maybe the Hallmark Channel has simply cornered the market on it all.
For PG fare this holiday season, best look out for that other time-honored character’s return to the big screen after a 15-year absence — Darth Vader.