Jason Bateman and Jennifer Aniston are in another comedy together, and so you can pretty much guess what that means – he’ll sleepwalk through being the everyman emotional core of the pic, and she’ll be some version of mainstream-friendly outrageous. They’re but two of the core cast of Office Christmas Party, which at times resembles a Frankenstein’s hybrid between their prior generic comedy fare like Horrible Bosses and sprawling ensemble-driven multi-narratives in the vein of Love Actually or New Year’s Eve.
As the title suggests, Office Christmas Party relies on a threadbare comedy trope – the crazy, out-of-control party – and comedians stranded mid-way between cameos and true supporting roles (T.J. Miller, Kate McKinnon, Vanessa Bayer, Rob Corddry). No-one really steps up to own proceedings, let alone the writers, and as a consequence the film drifts along from familiar beat to familiar beat without anyone giving the 100% needed to elevate this beyond a simply functional comedy. In fact, it falls to Courtney B. Vance (deserving Emmy-winner as Johnny Cochran in The People v. OJ Simpson) to ramp things up, playing against type as a straight-laced dude who – wait for it – loses his shit when – hold on – he gets a faceful of cocaine due to a mishap with a snow machine.
Like many a real office Christmas, you’d be correct to go into this film with low expectations. They’ll eventually be met – but no more – with a few chuckles, even a laugh along the way, but the overall experience won’t be anything you’ll particularly care to remember the following day.