Starring: Jason Bateman, T.J. Miller, Jennifer Aniston
Directed by: Josh Gordon & Will Speck (“Blades of Glory”)
Written by: Justin Malen (debut), Laura Solon (debut) and Dan Mazer (“Brüno”)
Does anyone really like their company Christmas party? Chances are it fails to live up to whatever meager expectations you might have. Hell, there might not even been any alcohol involved, or it might be in the middle of the work day, or one of any number of other little nitpicks might derail it. Or, as is the case with the would-be holiday raunchfest film “Office Christmas Party,” maybe all the right pieces are there, but it still ends up overlong and boring.
As the put-upon CTO of a Chicago-based server manufacturer, Josh Parker (Jason Bateman, ever the frazzled straight-man) is responsible for controlling the wilder impulses of branch general manager Clay Vanstone (T.J. Miller) in order to avoid the wrath of the company CEO—and Clay’s sister—Carol Vanstone (Jennifer Aniston). When Carol threatens layoffs just before the holidays and cancels the planned (and notoriously lame) office Christmas party, Josh, Clay and computer whiz Tracey (Olivia Munn) use their wooing of a wealthy new client (Courtney B. Vance) as an excuse to throw a booze-filled blowout in an effort to land his business, which is desperately needed to save the branch.
Joining Bateman, Miller, Aniston and Munn are loads of other very funny people, like Rob Corddry, Kate McKinnon, Vanessa Bayer, Randall Park, Jillian Bell—but no one ever gets a chance to run away with the movie (seriously, why are Miller’s and Bateman’s characters not combined into one?) and nothing ever really comes together. Directors Josh Gordon and Will Speck try to keep it appropriately dirty, throwing in plenty of cussing, a fair share of breasts and even one penis, but none of it ever feels especially randy, you know? The overstuffed plot and forced sentimentality undermine any bite the film strives to have, and by the time the party mentioned in the title gets underway—about 45 minutes into an hour and 45-minute runtime—boredom sets in. You know, like a real office Christmas party.