Office Christmas Party
dir Josh Gordon, Will Speck
scr Justin Malen, Laura Solon, Dan Mazer
prd Guymon Casady, Daniel Rappaport, Scott Stuber
with Jason Bateman, Jennifer Aniston, TJ Miller, Olivia Munn, Kate McKinnon, Courtney B Vance, Rob Corddry, Vanessa Bayer, Randall Park, Sam Richardson, Jillian Bell, Da'Vine Joy Randolph
release US/UK 9.Dec.16
16/US DreamWorks 1h45
Office Christmas Party
Party planners: McKinnon, Bateman, Miller and Munn

aniston vance corddry
R E V I E W    B Y    R I C H    C L I N E
Office Christmas Party There's a hit and miss quality to this Hangover-style holiday comedy, which thankfully relies on the expert comic timing of its cast rather than the somewhat lazy script. Frankly, without ace scene-stealers like Kate McKinnon and Olivia Munn, the film would be almost unwatchable, but they make everyone likeable enough to keep the movie entertaining.

In Chicago, playful tech company branch director Clay (Miller) is unnerved when his no-nonsense CEO sister Carol (Aniston) drops in just before Christmas, threatening his office with closure. So he and manager Josh (Bateman) decide to throw an epic holiday party to both win over an important client (Vance) and assure the staff that everything's fine. They're assisted by their IT guru Tracey (Munn) and awkward HR director Mary (McKinnon), and of course things rapidly spin wildly out of control.

Basically, this is a movie about the night before the hangover, as what should be a lively, happy evening devolves into raucous carnage. The script piles on the contrivances to make this possibly the biggest, most chaotic office party ever thrown, while various plot strands fling jokes and emotions into the fray. There are two underpowered romantic subplots, plus some sardonic/sentimental sibling rivalry and messy business dealings. Thankfully, the cast is let off-book in most scenes, and their improv saves the day.

As usual, the engaging Bateman and Aniston take on the least insane people on the screen. Aniston adds a bit of darkness to her cruel character, but it's clear from the start that she'll come round. This leaves every scene up for grabs, and it's no real contest: McKinnon steals everything in sight with a nonstop flurry of hilarious throwaway gags. Miller offers several amusing moments of his own, while Munn and Corddry (as the office chucklehead) hold their own in the ad-lib stakes. And Park, Richardson, Bell and Randolph have fun with smaller roles.

Throw in a few witty cameos and a free-wheeling plot that makes absolutely no sense at all, and it's a relief that there's just about enough to keep the audience chuckling all the way through. The filmmakers never bother to make the most of the premise or write any genuine character-based comedy into the script. But the energy and randomness of the movie provides a mindless diversion from the more serious stuff that's packing multiplexes at the end of the year.

cert 15 themes, language, violence, sexuality, drugs 5.Dec.16

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