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Film review: Office Christmas Party – Jason Bateman, Jennifer Aniston in comedy that’s neither wild nor wicked enough

With a humdrum script and a sack full of cliches, this film that takes the annual staff get-together to epic proportions fails to get the party started

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 07 December, 2016, 10:01pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 07 December, 2016, 10:37pm

2/5 stars

’Tis the season for the obligatory Hollywood Christmas film. Under the tree this year is a gift-wrapped festive flop, courtesy of Blades of Glory directors Will Speck and Josh Gordon. Office Christmas Party takes the idea of that annual shindig of shame, where workers get drunk, photograph their genitals and cop off with their co-workers, and amps it up to epic proportions.

Set around a company named Zenotek, the story begins as Jennifer Aniston’s ruthless CEO Carol Vanstone threatens to shut down the faltering Los Angeles branch, run by her kindly but misguided brother Clay (T.J. Miller). Desperate to prove his worth, Clay decides to throw a stunning Yuletide bash to impress a client, whose business will help save everyone’s jobs.

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Helping him out are his co-workers, the freshly-divorced Josh (Jason Bateman) and tech wizard Tracey (Olivia Munn), who has her own idea about creating internet connectivity through electrical appliances. With a DJ and industrial quantities of booze shipped in, the party is soon in full swing – aided somewhat when a bag of cocaine accidentally gets blasted out of a snow machine.

Scripted in a humdrum fashion by Justin Malen, Laura Solon and Dan Mazer, it’s neither as wild nor as wicked as it would like to be. Bateman and Aniston, reunited from the earlier workplace comedy Horrible Bosses, are always amenable screen presences, as is Miller, who made an impression in Deadpool earlier this year. But there’s little for anyone to work with here, as the clichés – fraught sibling relationships, unrequited office romances – run as thick as gooey eggnog.

For those who enjoyed her in the all-female Ghostbusters , Kate McKinnon puts in an appearance as a politically correct office bore with a steamy side. But while the message of the film seems to be to grab life by the collar, this is hardly a film that practises what it preaches. Filled with half-baked laughs, don’t expect much in the way of Christmas cheer here.

Office Christmas Party opens on December 8

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