When it comes to big, brassy studio comedies, a filmmaker can do worse than to gather the brightest, funniest stars, situate them in an odd, yet relatable situation and let ‘em rip. It’s what directors Josh Gordon and Will Speck do with “Office Christmas Party,” the
delightfully debauched holiday desecration we need this year.
Working with a story and script credited to six writers, the movie’s greatest strength is the cast, headed by fabulous weirdos Kate McKinnon and T.J. Miller in lead roles.
They’re supported by great team players: Vanessa Bayer, Rob Corddry, Randall Park, Sam Richardson and Jillian Bell.
Jason Bateman and Jennifer Aniston bring a pleasantly acid sting to the proceedings, reprising their chemistry from the “Horrible Bosses” movies.
The inimitable Courtney B. Vance also is memorable.
Gordon and Speck do a good job nudging the proceedings along _ the film never lags, briskly zipping through set-up and plot, peppered with almost too many jokes, ad libs, one-liners and riffs.
Miller plays the good-time boy Clay, boss of the Chicago branch of data storage company Zenotek. He was installed by his father, the company’s founder, and shares a deep rivalry with his Grinchy big sister Carol (Aniston), who’s consistently threatening to close him down and fire everyone.
The night of the office holiday mixer, Clay decides to throw the biggest, baddest bash possible in order to woo a business deal with Walter Davis (Vance).
Things go from very awesome to very bad in short order.
The idea of a high-stakes Christmas party is a fine-enough backdrop to display the prowess of the performers. Yet the low-stakes plot falters as it goes deep into a tortured tech side story about a wifi innovation that could save everyone’s jobs.
It makes a disheartening comment on our culture — that the best Christmas miracle we can muster is rebooting the power to our smart phones and text messages. Sad but honestly true.
— Katie Walsh, Tribune News Service
Office Christmas Party
Two and a half stars
Starring Jason Bateman, Jennifer Aniston, Olivia Munn, Kate McKinnon, T.J. Miller, Courtney B. Vance
Written by Laura Solon, Justin Malen, Dan Mazer
Directed by Josh Gordon, Will Speck
Running time 1 hour, 45 minutes