Office Christmas Party | Film | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper

Office Christmas Party

Josh Gordon and Will Speck’s outrageous comedy isn’t as funny as it should be

Buckle up for a wild ride. This new holiday comedy packs in big-name stars, numerous plot lines and perhaps millions of dollars in property damage. It all unfolds at the Chicago branch of Zenotech, and begins with commentary on the demise of workplace office parties: Gone are the days of employee hookups and over-intoxicated embarrassment. This year, Zenotech will be having an afternoon wine-and-cheese mixer. But everything changes when branch manager Clay (T.J. Miller) and Chief Technical Officer Josh Parker (Jason Bateman), learn that Clay’s sister (Jennifer Aniston) plans to shut down the underperforming branch. The only solution: Throw a raging Christmas party to lure in a new business partner.  

While co-directors Josh Gordon and Will Speck had some success with 2007’s ice-skating comedy Blades of Glory, their most recent comedy, Switched (also starring Aniston and Bateman), followed the overdone rom-com formula. This film turns out to be a mix of the two. There’s outrageous humor and physical comedy (one character accidentally ingests cocaine and later swings Tarzan-style from a string of twinkle lights), along with a will-they-won’t-they romance involving Bateman’s character and Olivia Munn’s (who returns to playing the hot genius role she excelled at in HBO’s Newsroom). 

But Office Christmas Party isn’t as funny as it should be. A lot of the gags are too over-the-top or simply don’t land. The best laughs come from SNL’s Kate McKinnon, who plays a human-resources manager overdoing her role of protecting the company from liability. But even her funny-because-it’s-true portrayal isn’t enough to keep the audience laughing.

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