• by Wes Singleton

Office Christmas Party, C


Rated R, 105 minutes

We've all been to the holiday party where someone has too much to drink and lets loose. They can be funny, they can embarrass themselves while mostly being a mess. That's exactly what the charming, low-brow new comedy "Office Christmas Party" is: entertaining in a rowdy, messy sort of way, when many of its jokes are falling flat.

When the CEO (Jennifer Aniston) tries to close her hard-partying brother's (T.J. Miller) branch, he and his chief technical officer (Jason Bateman) and his technical employee (Olivia Munn) must rally their co-workers and host an epic office Christmas party in an effort to impress a potential client and close a sale that will save their jobs.

Directed by Will Speck and Josh Gordon of "Blades of Glory" and "The Switch" fame and co-written by Justin Malen, Laura Solon and Dan Mazer, "Office Christmas Party" is an unfocused, one-joke movie that's tiresomely funny and blandly charming and hardly anything new. "Deadpool's" Miller gets in a few funny scenes in his usual slacker role, while Aniston does another variation of her "Horrible Boss" role, essentially a bitchy Grinch in heels out to spoil the fun (she does have one of the movie's best scenes, in which she torments a child for eating her cinnamon roll).

The middle section in particular is problematic, when the extended "Party" goes on and on, filled with redundancies we've seen in many party scenes before: lots of booze, drugs, sex, wild music and things that don't usually happen in real life. What's more, the film's central premise is essentially thrown out the window during the second act, and there's not much left after that, with the usually fine, and Emmy-winning actor Courtney B. Vance wasted in a one-note role. It veers off wildly into a few unnecessary subplots, especially a climactic car chase, that seem more like filler than anything substantial (or really funny).

Still, there are some bright spots in this "Party," and they go beyond a nice cheese platter. "Saturday Night Live's' Emmy-winning Kate McKinnon has a knack for stealing scenes (she was the most memorable part of the recent, female-driven "Ghostbusters" flop) and she does so again as the firm's uptight, Kia minivan-driving HR director, who finally lets loose a little to save the company; "22 Jump Street's" villain Jillian Bell adds some mean-spirited laughs as the hard-driving, moody pimp with some anger issues.

Audiences don't go to low-brow, profane movies like the forgettable "Office Christmas Party" for the plot or characters, so don't expect much in that regard, but it's still messy, all-over-the-place fun for a minute or two. Keep the kids at home or send them to "Moana," as this is a hard Rated R.

#officechristmasparty #jenniferaniston #jasonbateman #tjmiller #joshgordon #willspeck #oliviamunn #katemckinnon

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