Office Christmas Party

 

starstarhalf

 


A party at Christmas for the office gets out of hand in this rambunctious, lewd and 

predictable festive farce.

 

Office Christmas Party
Festive frolics: T.J. Miller, Courtney B. Vance and Rob Corddry

 

When did Rachel Green get so smutty? As personified by Jennifer Aniston in the perennially popular Friends, Rachel was a smart, peaches’n’cream diehard romantic. And Ms Aniston not only has great hair but is one of the funniest comedians of her generation, blessed with atomic clock comedy timing. However, the actress’s recent foray into broad, gross-out burlesque is troubling. She’s obviously trying to shake up her image and continues down that path with this rambunctious, lewd and predictable festive farce.

 

Set in the Chicago branch of the high-tech company Zenotek, the film hinges its plot on an impending office Christmas party and chucks in complications galore. A big complication is CEO Carol Vanstone, played by Anniston. Think of Meryl Streep’s Miranda Priestly in The Devil Wears Prada and you’d be in the right ballpark. Carol is a killjoy and in her first appearance we see her ripping gold tinsel off the office walls and unceremoniously binning it. There will be no party. Cue the biggest, crudest and most destructive celebration in the history of the Windy City.

 

Will Speck and Josh Gordon’s film could have been a lot worse. The set-up takes a number of smart stabs at what has become a politically correct time of year, personified by the ghastly, “multi-denominational” sweater of Zenotek’s PR chief Mary Winetoss (Kate McKinnon). McKinnon is very funny (her character is a stuffy box ticker and latent masochist), as are many of the female characters. And as the straight face in the comic chaos, Justin Bateman matches Jennifer Aniston beat for beat. There is also a slew of decent lines (“It’s so hard to shop for the bald,” “I want anal, like, yesterday”), but it’s not enough to stem the inevitable slapstick overload. Watching grown-ups debase themselves in the name of comedy is an uncomfortable spectator sport – and Office Christmas Party adds a few twists all its own. Dignity just isn’t an option.

 

JAMES CAMERON-WILSON

 

Cast: Jason Bateman, Olivia Munn, T.J. Miller, Jillian Bell, Vanessa Bayer, Courtney B. Vance, Rob Corddry, Sam Richardson, Randall Park, Kate McKinnon, Jennifer Aniston, Jamie Chung, Abbey Lee, Ben Falcone, Da'Vine Joy Randolph, Jimmy Butler (as himself).

 

Dir Will Speck and Josh Gordon, Pro Guymon Casady, Daniel Rappaport and Scott Stuber, Screenplay Justin Malen, Laura Solon and Dan Mazer, Ph Jeff Cutter, Pro Des Andrew Laws, Ed Jeff Groth and Evan Henke, Music Theodore Shapiro, Costumes Karen Patch.

 

DreamWorks Pictures/Reliance Entertainment/Bluegrass Films/Entertainment 360-Entertainment One. 105 mins. USA. 2016. Rel: 7 December 2016. Cert. 15.