Review: ‘Office Christmas Party’ tries too hard

Talented cast can’t make this ‘Party’ worth attending

Adam Graham
The Detroit News

Office Christmas parties are usually dull. This one is no exception.

The idea that the awkward annual gathering of co-workers would turn into an all-out bacchanal has comedic potential, but “Office Christmas Party” has trouble getting there. Its naughty bits (hookers! cocaine!) feel forced, and its nice elements (it is the holidays, after all) come off as contrived.

Josh Parker (Jason Bateman) and Clay Vanstone (T.J. Miller) run a Chicago tech company where the office culture is lazy but convivial. The threat of massive layoffs arrives in the form of Clay’s sister Carol (Jennifer Aniston), the ruthless company CEO, who wants to cut 40 percent of the workforce just before the holidays. Clay and Josh’s solution is to land a huge account by throwing a wild Christmas party and save the company.

Great comedies have done more with less. The problem is “Office Christmas Party” is overstuffed, with too many talented actors and comedians competing for screen time.

In addition to the leads, there’s Kate McKinnon as an uptight HR worker, Olivia Munn as a cunning hacker, Jillian Bell as a shrewd pimp and more (including roles played by Vanessa Bayer, Rob Corddry, Courtney B. Vance and Randall Park). Surprisingly, it’s Fortune Feimster as an overly chatty Uber driver who gets the most laughs.

“Blades of Glory” directors Josh Gordon and Will Speck don’t connect the dots between people having a few drinks and pushing vending machines out of skyscraper windows. It’s not that it’s over-the-top, it’s that it’s scattershot and unconvincing. Like most office Christmas parties, you should skip it.

agraham@detroitnews.com

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‘Office Christmas Party’

GRADE: C

Rated R for crude sexual content and language throughout, drug use and graphic nudity

Running time: 105 minutes