Predictable Highjinks at “Office Christmas Party”
By Skip Sheffield
Office Christmas parties are notorious for getting out of hand. That’s the basic premise of “Office Christmas Party,” by the directing team of Josh Gordon and Will Speck (“The Switch”).
There are no fewer than six writers credited for this comedy-farce, set in Chicago. I imagine everyone came up with gags and threw them against the wall to see which would stick.
The main pleasure of this movie is seeing Jennifer Aniston acting like a total bitch. She is Carol Vanstone, CEO of some nebulous internet company called Zenotek. Her brother Clay (T.J. Miller) runs the Chicago branch. Carol wants Clay to slash his employees by 40 percent and deny all Christmas bonuses. Clay is not very smart, but he comes up with a desperate plan to throw the ultimate Christmas party to impress prospective client Walter Davis (Courtney B. Vance), thereby proving the Chicago branch’s validity.
The second pleasure of the movie is Olivia Munn as Tracey Hughes, work wife of recently-divorced Josh Parker (Jason Bateman) who does the actual running of the branch. Ms. Munn is quite lovely in an understated way, and she radiates intelligence that blows away everyman good-guy Jason Bateman.
The party is an out-of-control bacchanal as you might expect. Jennifer Aniston is clearly slumming, but she gives her character some redeeming value. Kate McKinnon is unexpectedly upstaged as goody HR girl Mary. Randall Park gets in a few digs as the token Asian. That’s about it. Be careful at your Christmas parties and don’t drink and drive.