One-liner: A half-baked script, juvenile tone and lack of focus undermine this colourful, diverse yet coarse and inconsistent Horrible Bosses meets Ghostbusters hybrid.
Office Invasion is one of those comedy misadventures that probably worked much better on paper. The playful vibe translates to screen as Dead Places co-directors, Gareth Crocker and Fred Wolmarans, aim for something best described as Office Space, Horrible Bosses and Ghostbusters in a preloved blender. Unfortunately, as promising as it looks from the outset, it falls flat… face plant style. The off-kilter movie journeys with three best friends who unite to defend their mining company from alien monsters looking to plunder their valuable resources and exterminate their colleagues, even the good ones.
As a dumb fun concept, the kaleidoscopic film’s laden with potential and in retrospect, perhaps this escapist fare is best served drunk or stoned. Office Invasion has made a bold effort to harness its science fiction b-movie element. While a modest production, the locations are good, largely contained at a mining company’s offices and branching out to a few of its character’s homes for context. Office Invasion is ironically at its best when it strays into its “stupid visions”, fun daydreams that give the movie another dimension and land a few laughs.
While going for a low budget and edgy office-based comedy sci-fi thriller in reverence of its superior inspirations, the movie’s juvenile tone undermines its chances of becoming a so-bad-its-good cult or sleeper hit. Swaying from awkward scatalogical humour to raunch with sex toys and blowup dolls, the schoolboy curiousities don’t quite jel and the cringe comedy is overblown to a fault. Unable to connect with the loosely drawn heroes on their unlikely hero’s quest, their charms are lost on blunt and forced jokes. Some say make the film you want to watch, but in Office Invasion’s case, it’s niche and self-indulgent to the point of lint navel-gazing.
“This feels like more of a national security matter.”
Rea Rangaka, Kiroshan Naidoo and Sechaba Ramphele form Office Invasion’s lead trio Sam, Prince and Junior, who headline a sprawling cast with a few recognisable faces in smaller supporting roles. A wonderfully diverse South African cast, the actors try to energise their lines and ramp up their characters for maximum appeal and fun but its a case of style over substance. Office Invasion’s burgeoning cast keep things relatively fresh but there are just too many characters. This lack of focus extends to the writing as narration shifts perspective, coarse language wallows, obstacles are an afterthought and anything goes. Not defining their world or forming an emotional connection, Office Invasion’s simply becomes a matter of going through the motions, rather than living in the moment.
Short, sharp bursts of dumb fun on this level are best served in 2-5 minute portions if you can’t keep the laughs flowing like the Farrelly brothers, making Office Invasion’s almost 2 hour running time a real chore if you’re not at least partially invested. To muddle things even further for this multi-genre hybrid, the soundtrack is inconsistent to the point of distraction, swaying from the chipper heights of cute family comedy to the driving intensity of a dark, swirling thriller.
To be fair, even critically-acclaimed filmmakers like Jim Jarmusch can have a bad day when it comes to excavating sci-fi horror comedy with the noblest of intentions as Adam Driver and Bill Murray eventually discovered in the ill-fated The Dead Don’t Die. If a movie isn’t working, it may be best to bail into the realm of self-referential, fourth-wall-breaking mayhem, which is what happened in their case – following a literal zombie dead-end. While one may never know what precipitated this fun-spirited flop, to the credit of the filmmakers, they powered through and hoped for the best.
The bottom line: Misfire