Writing Movie “WRONGS”
By Jim West
Office Christmas Party
Directed by Josh Gordon, Will Speck
Written by Laura Solon, Justin Malen, Dan Mazer, Jon Lucas, Scott Moore, and Timothy Dowling
With a great cast of very funny people like Jason Bateman, Olivia Munn, Jennifer Aniston, TJ Miller, Kate McKinnon, and Rob Corddry there should be plenty of room for the writers to really serve up the laughs. Yet comedy is hard. Even with a great comedic cast, six writers, and two directors this film ends up as many films do with the best parts being in the trailer. Sad indeed for a comedy with a simple hilarious premise, and delightfully written characters. Yet sometimes too many cooks spoil the soup. These writers all each have their own successes in comedy films and it may be perhaps of their own successes and comedic styles that perhaps clashed a bit that let the film feel like it was trying to be multiple films in itself. Let me explain. In one scene Bateman and Munn don large snowmen costumes and dance to in order to get the people to loosen up. Wasn’t funny in itself, but immediately harkened to Blade of Glory style of scene (Josh Gordon and Will Speck directed that film). The nudity in the film was typical of films like Borat and Bruno, written by Dan Mazer. Then call in the misfired romantic storyline which may be the result of bad casting for Olivia Munn. Love Munn and she can be hilarious, but her and Bateman don’t strike up the awkward chemistry balance that their roles needed. So instead of going on about the slight tinges of British humor that was injected into the film most likely due to Laura Solon’s work on this film, I will instead move forward to how this film should have been written.
First off, for all writers out there, Kate McKinnon is comedy GOLD. Utilize her to her fullest. Reference Ghostbusters if you need a reference. I hoped her character would’ve been the uptight by the book HR lady for 364 days a year, and this one day was her let it all hang out day of the year. THAT is how her character should have been written. Corddry and McKinnon’s hate relationship should have been played on for more laughs. To me that should have been the love story in this film. Olivia Munn should have been a dressed down, tech nerd with big glasses and the audience can see she has a thing for Bateman’s character, but he doesn’t see it. Then at the party she lets the hair down and dresses up and turns all the men’s heads to include Batemen’s. That in itself could be played for laughs. Now the TJ Miller and Bateman duo had its moments but even that should have been played up a bit better to show their dynamic as not just office buddies, but actual real friends outside of work. Drop the single mom character and Asian guy from accounting bits. Not funny. At all. Aniston played her role perfectly and no changes needed there except when she showed up to Bateman’s apartment I really would have liked her to try to seduce Bateman and then the rest of the night she keeps trying to seduce him while he is trying to chase after Munn’s character. That also could’ve been played for better laughs. Then you have Jesus and Reindeer and didn’t write a special scene just for them? Oh my, what a waste. So much setup and yet no payoffs. That is perhaps the biggest missing piece here. With each scene the viewer is waiting for something hilarious and just doesn’t live up to what the setup was. The gut clenching, slap your knees punchlines never come. All this setup and it falters most likely due to trying to take on too much and focusing on all the wrong bits. Finally, don’t give away all of the funny moments in the trailer. Another huge let down. This comedy did swing for the rafters, but the ball stayed safely infield.
Thanks for reading Writing Movie ‘WRONGS’.