Like gifts received from a distant relative, or whatever plays in the background of any festive gathering, Office Christmas Party is a momentarily entertaining, utterly forgettable piece of holiday cheer and warmth.
It’s annual fare with fun, familiar faces and consistent laughs, however fleeting. This raunchy holiday comedy features a colourful assortments of characters at a struggling tech company run by a warm-hearted if not always savvy heir Clay (T.J. Miller). The menagerie includes the recently divorced and ever cautious Josh (Jason Bateman), the innovator (Olivia Munn), and others who are mean (Rob Corddry), kinky (Randall Park), lonely (Karan Soni) and awkward (Kate McKinnon).
In order to save the branch from Clay’s ferocious sister and C.E.O. (Jennifer Aniston), set to destroy Christmas by cancelling bonuses and firing a whole lot of you, a party must be held to woo a potential client who embraces a business that feels like family. Any excuse for a party!
Debauchery ensues, featuring duplicitous escorts, misplaced drugs, hospital visits, suggestive ice sculptures, and plenty of abused office equipment. While this formulaic film never surprises, it rarely lags, and despite every actor playing a character they’ve played so many times before (Aniston is mean and swears a lot, Miller is a loveable goof! ), they all do it so well. There is manufactured sentimentality and a strong enough through line that keeps the film going til the end.
The laughs aren’t unearned and cycle nicely between smart and obscene (though it’s hard to find it entertaining when Clay is drunk-driving his way to demise, and it’s meant to be). The laughs are however, temporary, making Office Christmas Party the equivalent of some sweet side dish at holiday dinner. It’s enjoyable and perfectly palatable, but not something you’ll ever remember until you encounter it next year. It’ll have a different cast and new title, but it’s the same recognizable yuletide comedy.