BARE BONES: OFFICE CHRISTMAS PARTY (2016)

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OFFICE CHRISTMAS PARTY (2016)

Clay Vanstone (T.J. Miller) is the screw-up branch manager of the Chicago offices of the Zenotek Company. His hard-nosed sister Carol (Jennifer Aniston) is the interim CEO and arrives on Christmas Eve to announce massive lay-offs, budget cuts and the canceling of that night’s company Christmas party. She threatens to close the failing branch down if they don’t turn things around. Clay holds the party anyway, to try to impress a potential client (Courtney B. Vance), while his Chief Tech Officer Josh (Jason Bateman) and his head of tech/love interest Tracey (Olivia Munn) try to save the company. Things start to fall apart as the party spirals out of control and Carol is stranded in Chicago and heads back to the office. 

Raunchy holiday comedy is directed by Josh Gordon from a script by Laura Solon, Dan Mazer and Justin Malen. It’s a routine comedy in every way from the loser needing to triumph in the face of adversity to the divorced Josh finally working up the courage to pursue Tracey. None of that stops it from being a fun and naughty comedy thanks to buoyant direction from Gordon, some actual wit in the script and a very energetic and entertaining cast. Kate McKinnon steals many a scene, Anniston has a blast as the tough and all business Carol and the underrated Bateman and Olivia Munn have a really nice on-screen chemistry both comedically and romantically. To a degree, this comedy could have been set at any time of year, but does get a chance to have naughty fun with many Christmas traditions and clichés. Routine and familiar…yes. A raunchy, fun holiday comedy for grown-ups…that, too!

-MonsterZero NJ

3 star rating

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HORROR YOU MIGHT HAVE MISSED: THE DIVIDE (2011)

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THE DIVIDE (2011)

(Remember, clicking the highlighted links brings you to other reviews and articles here at The Movie Madhouse!)

Xavier Gens (Frontier(s), Hitman) weaves this grim and violent tale of a group of survivors who are trapped together in a bomb shelter after a nuclear attack on New York City. The longer they stay cooped up in the shelter together, the more civilized behavior collapses and the worst in human nature comes out.

Divide is a well made film and Gans gets really good performances out of his cast, including Michael Biehn, Lauren German and Rosanna Arquette. He crafts a lot of tension and takes us and his characters through some very disturbing sequences as savagery takes over and atrocities are committed with growing ease. But despite how well Gans’ film is made, it is the nature of the story and the filmmaker’s willingness to indulge in it that weighs it down. The problem is we’ve seen this kind of civilization breakdown many times before and Gans spends a little too much time on the horrible acts that the characters commit on each other. After a while we start to become numb and a bit bored as a good portion of the two hour running time is a journey through the evils that men do. The constant bombardment of vulgar and repulsive behavior looses it’s effect and the last act is spent just wanting it to come to some sort of conclusion. And when that conclusion comes, we are already too weary to fully feel it’s bleak impact. There are some interesting segments too, including one that gives us an idea of just who has perpetrated the attack, which is quite chilling and we do have to give Gans credit for such a brutally realistic portrayal of such an event. The production value is high and the scenes of a nuclear devastated NYC are extremely vivid and horrifying which adds to the emotionally dark tone of the film.

A well done movie, but a bit too bleak and depressing for it’s own good. The film makes it’s point over and over and it is emotionally draining. Certainly was worth seeing, but not the kind of movie I’d want to watch again.

-MonsterZero NJ

3 cans of lye…gotta keep that bomb shelter toilet fresh!

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