Film: “Office Christmas Party”; Directors: Will Speck, Josh Gordon; Cast: Jennifer Aniston, Jason Bateman, Olivia Munn, T.J. Miller, Jillian Bell, Vanessa Bayer, Courtney B. Vance, Rob Corddry, Kate McKinnon, Abbey Lee, Sam Richardson, Jamie Chung, Randall Park, Karan Soni, Da’Vine Joy Randolph, Jimmy Butler; Rating: **1/2
Merry Christmas! Here is a raunchy American comedy to cheer you up this festive season.
“Office Christmas Party” centres on a tech company called Zenotech, run by an iron-handed CEO – Carol (Jennifer Aniston), who is hell bent on closing the branch office, headed by her younger brother Clay (T.J. Miller).
In his attempt to stop his sister from succeeding in her mission, Clay, along with his Chief Technical Officer Josh Parker (Jason Bateman), rally their co-workers to host an epic office Christmas party. They do this in order to impress a potential client and thereby save their jobs. How they go about this, forms the crux of the tale.
The script, attributed to six writers, is lazily drafted with loud and forced, cartoonish slapstick antics that make every character onscreen seem like they are indulging in an edgy potboiler. These characters are brought to life by strong performances that are well-extracted by the directors.
Jason Bateman as the good-hearted, freshly divorced technical head is convincing, but then he adds no nuances to his character.
T.J. Miller, with his ruffled hair and broad childlike grin, essays Clay with aplomb. He is likeable and a fun boss who genuinely cares about his employees. He is an ace in his dumb comic act and his timing, is pitch perfect.
Jennifer Aniston slips in to the shoes of the no-nonsense, budget-obsessed CEO Carol with ease. But it is her aggressive side, especially those fisticuffs she indulges in, that gets her the brownie points.
The three are aptly supported by a load of supporting cast that include; Olivia Munn as the programming genius Tracey who has a soft corner for Josh, Courtney B Vance as Walter Davis the potential client, Vaneesa Bayer as the single mom Allison who is looking out for a nice man in her life, Randall Park as Fred the newly appointed employee who has mommy issues, Karan Soni as the Supervisor Nate, Kate McKinnon as the HR head Mary, Abbey Lee as the Hooker, Jillian Bell as the pimp and Fortune Feimster as the Uber driver.
They all have their moments of onscreen glory, that make you chuckle.
With moderate production values, the film is well-mounted and tightly packaged which works fine, especially on the big screen.
Overall, “Office Christmas Party”, packed with debauchery in the backdrop, is a very by-the-numbers comedy that offers nothing memorable or you have not seen too many times before.
By Troy Ribeiro