As dull and impersonal as a sheaf of open-enrollment insurance forms, Office Christmas Party brings together — and underutilizes — several funny performers from TV shows (Silicon Valley, Veep, SNL) that pinpoint what this dim comedy does not: the specifics of workplace environments and their particular pathologies and joys.
Under orders from interim CEO Carol Vanstone (Jennifer Aniston, pinched and stiff), the Chicago division of software firm Zenotek will have to forgo holiday bonuses and lay off scores of workers. Carol’s inept but magnanimous kid brother, branch president Clay (T. J. Miller), conspires with high-ranking employees played by Jason Bateman and Olivia Munn — office crushes igniting zero chemistry — to avoid financial ruin by wooing an eminent client (Courtney B. Vance) at the company’s yuletide bacchanal.
The rager’s excesses are wholly predictable: cocaine, a lot of white people jumping up and down to DJ Kool, gay-panicky visuals with eggnog. The generic construction extends to the bit characters, including a pimp and an Uber driver played by actresses wanly recalling Amy Schumer and Melissa McCarthy.
Inimitable (and relieving), though, are the creature-like antics of Kate McKinnon, here as an H.R. martinet so rule-bound that she files a sexual-harassment suit against herself.
Office Christmas Party
Directed by Josh Gordon and Will Speck
Opens December 9
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on December 9, 2016