Skip the “Office Christmas Party” relentlessly unfunny
by Richard Lieberman
Directed by Josh Gordon, Will Speck. Starring Jason Bateman, Olivia Munn, T.J. Miller, Jennifer Aniston, Kate McKinnon, Courtney B. Vance, Jillian Bell, Rob Corddry, Vanessa Bayer, Randall Park, Sam Richardson, Karan Soni, Jamie Chung, Abbey Lee, Da’Vine Joy Randolph, Fortune Feimster, Ben Falcone. (2016, R, 105 min.) Rated R
Carol Vanstone (played by Jennifer Aniston) is uncomfortable with her brothers operational and leadership skills in running his branch of an inherited tech company. Her brother Clay played by (T.J. Miller of “Silicon Valley”) runs the tech companies branch that is losing money, and sister Carol, CEO of the company wants the branch shut down.
Clay’s humanistic management style, he thinks of his employees as family, is in constant conflict with his sisters no nonsense “bottom line” philosophy of running the company. For Carol her brothers’ business style needs to be shut down so her bottom line oriented approach can be spread throughout the company.
Clay not nearly as bottom line oriented, nor organized, and efficient as Carol. knows he needs to do something to save the branch from closing, and laying off all its workers. He knows he needs to take some action to save the branch and the jobs of his employees. Landing a new 17-million-dollar account would force his sister to reconsider closing he branch. He decides to hold an office Christmas party to sway the potential new client.
Reluctantly chief technical officer Josh played by (Jason Bateman) and lead engineer Tracey played by (Olivia Munn) and human resources manager Mary (Kate McKinnon) of “Saturday Night Live end up joining in the revelry, and spirit of this raucous and unnerving Christmas party.
Carol however does not get into the spirit and the revelry of this immense and outlandish party. It seems it would take a lot more than a wild party to get stodgy sister Carol to change her mind, but it is Christmas and strange things can happen during the holiday season.
Do not count on the Office Christmas Party to deliver belly laughs or even, chuckles, the script never comes close.
In one scene, a bag of Cocaine is dropped in the office party’s snow machine, and sprayed in the face of buyer Walter Davis (Vance) attempting him the purchase the company’s servers which would turn around the company and save the day. Eventually a major portion of Chicago’s populace shows up at the party, which included Jesus and a donkey, Jimmy Butler of the Bulls, and a prostitute (Lee) giving hand jobs in the men’s restroom.
Any real flashes of humor come from the actors riffs and not from the attempted comedic script. Yet in the end Office Christmas Party is never as hilarious and lively as I had hoped. Skip this one folks and watch it when it comes out on cable, Red Box, Netflix or Amazon.