Film review: It’s best to miss the Office Christmas Party comedy

There are some jokes but nothing you would call cutting-edge comedy.

From left, Kate McKinnon, Jason Bateman, TJ Miller and Olivia Munn star in Office Christmas Party. Glen Wilson / Paramount Pictures
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Office Christmas Party

Directors: Will Speck, Josh Gordon

Stars: Jason Bateman, Jennifer Aniston, TJ Miller, Olivia Munn, Kate McKinnon

Two stars

A comedy based around that age-old tradition, where colleagues drink too much, cavort and regret it all in the morning, this Hollywood Yuletide offering is unlikely to leave you feeling full of the festive spirit.

Co-directed by Will Speck and Josh Gordon (who also made the much better Will Ferrell ice skating comedy, Blades of Glory), Office Christmas Party is set in a floundering Los Angeles branch of a tech company run by Jennifer Aniston's heartless chief executive, Carol. Christmas Carol? Hmm ...

In any case, we know she is the Scrooge of the story because she is mean to a child in an airport.

The office is managed by her brother, the hapless but happy Clay (Deadpool's barman, the likeable TJ Miller). But when Carol threatens to shut the branch unless Clay and his staff close a big deal, he decides to throw a massive Christmas shindig to impress the potentially business-saving client (Courtney B Vance).

Among the party organisers are Jason Bateman as newly-divorced Josh, and Olivia Munn as bright-spark tech wiz Tracey.

Naturally, the party gets out of control (as all Hollywood bashes inevitably do), although this does not go down the dark and doom-laden route that something like Project X did. These are responsible adults after all, not adolescents, and they need their jobs.

Romance bubbles under nicely enough between Bateman and Munn, and Vance has a blast – his daredevil stunt that ends painfully gets one of the biggest laughs of the film.

Scripted by Justin Malen and Laura Solon, the screenplay also boasts the fingerprints of Dan Mazer, whose back catalogue includes Sasha Baron Cohen's Borat and Brüno.

However, there is nothing remotely as gut-busting or edgy as either of those films here. There are some jokes involving sex and drugs but nothing you would call cutting-edge comedy.

There is a lot of reverence for the Fast & The Furious franchise too. But don't get too excited – the action doesn't come close to the world of Dominic Toretto.

Fans of the recent Ghostbusters reboot will at least get to see Kate McKinnon again, this time playing a politically correct office worker who discovers her wild side. But rarely does the film offer anything more than half-hearted laughs.

It won’t ruin your holiday season but it certainly will not improve it. If this was a Christmas gift, you would probably take it back to the shop to exchange.

* James Mottram