officexmasparty

Decking the halls with boughs of holly is sooo 20th century. And so are warm, fuzzy holiday movies about family, love, and friendship.

Hence why, over the past several years, we’ve been treated to such R-rated yuletide fare like A Very Harold & Kumar Christmas, The Night Before, and most recently, Bad Santa 2. There’s an audience out there that appreciates penis gags and F-bombs to go with their cup of cheer, especially if that cheer is spiked or laced with illegal substances.

Office Christmas Party continues that naughty tradition with a venerable who’s who from the film and TV comedy world. It’s like the Love Actually of dude-centric workplace comedies, but depending on who you are, that may not be a comparison to be entirely proud of. Front and center, you got your Jason Bateman, playing the straight man for the umpteenth time as the blandly monikered Josh Parker, a recently divorced CTO of the Chicago branch of a company called Zenotek (they develop software and techie stuff). Then you got your Olivia Munn playing Tracey, a coder who may have a thing for Josh and can’t help but be sexy while sitting in a high-security room surrounded by monitors. You also got your T.J. Miller as Clay Vanstone, the office’s grand poobah (basically recycling his character from HBO’s Silicon Valley), and Jennifer Aniston, Clay’s uptight sister and CEO who has plans to downsize due to Zenotek’s lousy quarterly earnings.

In order to keep the branch afloat and prevent everyone’s holiday from being ruined, Josh and Clay vow to win over a new client (Courtney B. Vance) by throwing one epic holiday party. (And naturally, it only takes 24 hours or so to plan the heavily catered shenanigans because…Movie Logic.) As expected, the hedonistic shit hits the fan. There’s a 3D printer penis gag, live animals prancing through the lobby, Christmas trees set on fire, and, of course, cocaine mistaken for fake snow.

The rest of this cinematic stocking is overly stuffed with stock characters who are just there to deliver jokes and punchlines and keep this 100-minute distraction-from-reality chugging along. There’s Kate McKinnon‘s eccentric and overly PC head of Human Resources, Vanessa Bayer‘s stressed out single mom who just wants to find some relief and romance, Rob Corddry as the pent-up head of customer service, Jamie Chung as the provocatively dressed office hottie, Randall Park as the office newbie with a mommy fetish, Karan Soni as the office nerd who hires a hooker (Abbey Lee) to be his date, Da’Vine Joy Randolph as a taser-happy security guard, and Sam Richardson as another office drone who sees the party as his chance to break out his MC skills on the turntables.

Directors Josh Gordon and Will Speck (Blades of Glory and The Switch, also starring Bateman and Aniston) do their best to follow a script credited with six names, two of which belong to the guys who wrote The Hangover and Bad Moms (not surprising). Therefore, expect another installment of men (and some women) behaving badly on the big screen — this time accentuated with tinsel and Santa hats. Don’t expect any kind of satirical edge (a la Office Space) to frame the comedy with any kind of commentary on corporate America. That would be expecting too much from Office Christmas Party, a basic laugher that’s been thrown together to keep America guffawing (and reasonably distracted) through the end of what has been a less-than-stellar year.

RATING: 2.5/5

@TheFirstEcho

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