105 min. | R
Sneak your own eggnog into the theatre if you’re looking to catch a buzz from this holiday-season comedy. Do not count on Office Christmas Party to deliver a contact high. Yes, there are laughs, but not off-the-charts merriment as promised by the expert cast of comic actors.
Well before cocaine is dropped into the office party’s snow machine, it’s clear this comedy is not up to snuff. Populated by an array of the usual office types, the film has flashes of humor mostly attributable to the actors’ riffs rather than plotting.
Jason Bateman plays Josh Parker, the chief technical officer at the Chicago branch of Zenotek, which is run by his pal Clay Vanstone (T.J. Miller). A classic man-child, Clay inherited the branch office from his wealthy father, although his no-nonsense sister Carol (Jennifer Aniston) is above him as the firm’s CEO.
Aniston plays a different kind of horrible boss compared with the one she plays in the Horrible Bosses comedies, also co-starring Bateman. Carol is the Scrooge of Office Christmas Party, putting the kibosh on the event in advance of firing 40% of the staff, including her brother.
In a last-ditch move to save the branch, Clay throws a rager of a party in order to convince buyer Walter Davis (Courtney B. Vance) to purchase their servers, which would turn around the branch’s fortunes. A good portion of Chicago winds up at the party, including Jesus and a donkey, Jimmy Butler of the Bulls, and a prostitute giving hand jobs in the men’s room.
Kate McKinnon brings her signature wackiness as the uptight HR director, Rob Corddry’s profanity-laced tirades make him an ironic customer-service manager, and Olivia Munn plays the programmer and love interest who comes up with an algorithm that saves the day. Yet in the end, Office Christmas Party is never as lively or hilarious as one hoped.