Office Christmas Party – Review (***)

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It may be no holiday classic, but the third feature from Josh Gordon and Will Speck (Blades of Glory, The Switch) provides a lightly entertaining serving of yuletide comfort food with this fun, fleeting R-rated Christmas comedy.

When uptight Zenotek CEO Carol Vanstone (Jennifer Aniston) threatens to close her brother Clay’s (T.J. Miller) struggling Chicago office, it’s up to Clay and Chief Technical Officer Josh (Jason Bateman) to throw one hell of an office Christmas party in order to secure the business of Walter (Courtney B. Vance), an extremely valuable potential client.

There aren’t many unfamiliar beats here admittedly, taking the Hangover formula and melding it with the brotastic shenanigans of last year’s The Night Before, while proving less successful than either. Still, thanks to a game ensemble that also includes Olivia Munn, Jillian Bell, Rob Corddry (admittedly rather under-utilised here), Randall Park, Jamie Chung, Kate McKinnon, Matt Walsh and many more, there’s nary a dull beat. Particular highlights are Aniston, who can play a hard-ass with the best of them, McKinnon as an overtly politically correct HR employee with an inevitable wild side, and Miller, who continues to carve out a solid niche for himself as cinema’s Slacker Supreme.

In short, it’s headed up by a smorgasbord of talent, all of who combine to make the film an entertaining ride even when your gut probably isn’t busted by every one-liner (or even every other one). It rarely lulls or sags thanks to a snappy pace, even if it’s exceedingly predictable, tacks on an extremely bizarre Internet subplot, and eventually lurches into customary feel-good sentimentality. It doesn’t remotely earn this, but stops a few feet short of going too far with it, and so is brushed off easily enough.

It’ll be too crude or too insubstantial for some, but Office Christmas Party will be perversely entertaining to anyone who’s ever sworn-in the season with co-workers, and even if not, it’s 105 minutes of great comic actors letting loose. You could get a lot worse around this time of year.

***

Office Christmas Party is in UK cinemas now and US cinemas tomorrow

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