A Beginner’s Guide To Office Christmas Party

Everything you need to know before Office Christmas Party comes out tomorrow.

What is it?
Office Christmas Party is a festive comedy film about – you guessed it – an office Christmas party.

That doesn’t sound very funny.
Yeah… but there’s this growing trend in comedy where boring, middle class people are put into “extreme” situations and in the end they decide that their lives are actually pretty great and they return to them. I’m not saying that that’s what happens here, but I’m guessing it’s pretty close.

What is it actually about?
Officially:

When Zenotek CEO Carol Vanstone (Jennifer Aniston) tries to close the branch of her hard-partying brother Clay (T. J. Miller), he and his Chief Technical Officer must rally their co-workers and host an epic office Christmas party in an effort to impress a potential client and close a sale that will save their jobs.

Not that that doesn’t sound great but are there any other Christmas movies?
There’s this and Bad Santa 2. Take your pick.

Who’s in this movie?
Oooh, the cast is pretty great: Jennifer Aniston, T.J. Miller, Jason Bateman, Olivia Munn, and Kate McKinnon are just a few of the huge ensemble cast. It was directed by Josh Gordon and Will Speck.

The guys who did The Switch?
Well, yeah but they also did Blades of Glory so this film could go either way.

Finally, is it any good?
The reviews aren’t in yet so I have nothing to base my opinion on except for the trailer. Personally, I think that it could be a fun watch but the trailer is below – see what you think.

The Death Of The Laugh Track || Emmy Season

It is just one week until the 68th annual Primetime Emmy Award ceremony and I’m excited. I’m actually so excited that everyday from now until the awards, there is going to be Emmy specific content on this page and we’re kicking off today with the Comedy Series category.

Image result for master of noneThis year’s nominees in the category of Outstanding Comedy Series are:

  • Black-ish
  • Master of None
  • Modern Family
  • Silicon Valley
  • Transparent
  • Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt
  • Veep

These series span a wide range of broadcast networks, subject matter and style but they all have one thing in common that you wouldn’t have been able to say ten years ago: no laugh track.

Since the 1950s the laugh track has been an integral part of the television comedy but this is the second year in a row that none of the nominated shows contain one (this also occurred in 2010 and 2015). Additionally, whilst there have been nominees with laugh tracks, none of them have won since 2005. So, the question is: is the world done with the laugh track?

Obviously I can’t answer for the entire world but I can say that I am definitely over it. Understand, I will always love Friends, Everybody Loves Raymond and I even have a soft spot for That 70’s Show but when I re-watch them I can’t help but cringe a little (sometimes a lot). The smooth, single-camera sitcom has pushed aside the old-fashioned multi-camera setup but there hasn’t been the usual uproar that any kind of change incites in our wonderful internet community. Maybe everybody else is tired of laugh tracks too.

Image result for the big bang theory
The obvious exception to this would be The Big Bang Theory but as they move into their tenth season this month and they failed to receive a nomination in this category this year, you have to wonder if their reign is coming to an end.

I’ve disparaged the laugh track but I haven’t explained why I don’t like it. Mostly, it feels awkward when the canned laughter comes into a scene and seems to tell you what you’re meant to find funny.

Television is supposed to be an escape from reality: it takes you to different places and you watch entirely new stories unravel but hearing this pre-planned laughter every five seconds is more than annoying, it’s jarring and removes any chance of fully immersing yourself in the show.

Admittedly, if you happen to have exactly the same sense of humour as the show’s sound editors then maybe the laugh track works for you but God forbid that you don’t, then all it does is highlight when a joke doesn’t land. Above all it feels as though they’re trying too hard and everybody knows that the cool kids don’t try. Duh.

Modern Family.pngCool Kid #1 and five-time winner in this category, Modern Family, is a case study in good comedy writing: it strikes the right balance between predictable outcome and the completely unexpected. There are enough characters that you never get sick of one particular dynamic and above all, the comedy feels natural.

When the laugh track comes on it brings with it this element of expectation: you’re given cues as to how you’re meant to feel and in some irrational part of my brain I get annoyed by that. I’m suddenly a twelve year old going: don’t tell me what to do.

As the years go on it looks as though the Emmys are really focusing on awarding this newer form of comedy series and I love that.

In regards to who I want to win, I have no idea: they’re all amazing and that level of quality runs throughout all of the categories this year as you’ll see as we continue to talk Emmys for the next seven days.

Are you a fan of the laugh track? Do you think the basic sitcom framework is changing? Who do you want to take home the Emmy this year? Let me know in the comments.

Central Intelligence – Review

The Rock and Kevin Hart: what isn’t there to like? Hmm, maybe the rest of the film.

The problem with comedies nowadays is that they seem to just choose one or two funny actors and then push them together in a vaguely ridiculous scenario, essentially creating a very genre-focused sitcom.

Central Intelligence sees Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and Kevin Hart thrown into a shady CIA operation that I struggle to remember the exact details of. The Rock plays a high-school-loser-turned-CIA-heavyweight whilst Hart is… an accountant.

The story plays out predictably and even the twist ending can be seen coming from the first half hour of the movie.

The characters aren’t particularly interesting but it’s the chemistry between the two main actors that makes this film watchable. Unlike Hart’s recent venture, Get Hard (Kevin Hart and Will Ferrell), it is actually fun to see these two actors together. Even watching their bloopers after the film ended, it was clear that they enjoyed making the movie and that joy was contagious.

Most of the jokes landed well but Ryan Hansen’s sex-obsessed character was the single most irritating thing to cross the screen. Small cameos from Jason Bateman and Melissa McCarthy are fun but only serve to balance out Amy Ryan’s wooden CIA agent.

Film fans will enjoy the countless movie references made throughout, although they could be boring and a waste of time for those that aren’t so well-acquainted with 80’s cinema.

The action sequences – and there are a lot of action sequences – were wonderfully choreographed and it certainly helped to have The Rock on board in that respect.

Overall, Central Intelligence doesn’t bring anything new to the world of film but it will make you smile and that’s the main criteria for a comedy, right?

Have you seen Central Intelligence? What do you think of The Rock and Kevin Hart? Let me know in the comments.