When his uptight CEO sister threatens to shut down his branch, the branch manager throws an epic Christmas party in order to land a big client and save the day, but the party gets way out of hand…
Christmas comedies are generally more miss than they are hit, but the combination of a good cast and a reasonably solid premise raised my hopes a little for ‘Office Christmas Party’. It’s not a complete dud but it’s main problem lies in failing to do what it sets out to achieve, namely to deliver laughs, and that’s a pretty big issue! The premise of the film surrounds a struggling tech firm, who decide to throw a massive Christmas party in order to woo a rich prospective client, whilst on the outskirts of this main story we flit in and out of the personal lives of the characters involved. It’s not the most original set up, but the filmmakers have amassed a cast of talented comedic actors from some of the funniest shows on television, but they don’t support that talent with the material.
The film is incredibly predictable and we can tell most of the main beats the narrative is going to hit before we get there, and whilst inherently this isn’t a big problem, it becomes one when the set ups lack a consistent level of humour and big laughs. I think that’s partly down to the film trying to service too many characters, and a lot of the pairings feeling a little forced to reach for romantic conclusions. There are some joys to be had in the performances, with Courtney B. Vance (who was so excellent as Johnny Cochran in ‘American Crime Story’ earlier this year) having a blast as a stuffy financial giant getting to let loose, and I enjoyed aspects of Karan Soni and Jennifer Aniston’s performances. I came mainly because of T.J. Miller’s terrific work in ‘Silicon Valley’ and he elevates some of the clichéd material, but even he can’t bring humour to a set up that goes for the broadest strokes possible in just about every situation.
As a Christmas comedy to pass the time, ‘Office Christmas Party’ fits the bill to an extent, but it’s not funny enough, nor strong enough in its characterisation and writing to generate more than a shrug.
Directed By: Josh Gordon and Will Speck
Starring: Jason Bateman, Jennifer Aniston, T. J. Miller, Olivia Munn, Courtney B. Vance, Kate McKinnon, Jillian Bell, Vanessa Bayer, Rob Corddry, Sam Richardson, Randall Park, Jamie Chung, Abbey Lee, Karan Soni, Matt Walsh, Oliver Cooper, Adrian Martinez and Andrew Leeds