Thursday, December 8, 2016

A party you've attended before

Ever since the Hangover movies pushed the gross-out envelope to the breaking point, comedies have been trying to ascend ever higher rungs on the ladder of crudeness. So, it's hardly a surprise that Office Christmas Party -- a holiday formula job -- goes for gross-out gold. No stranger to lame comedies, Jason Bateman plays a computer exec who works at the Chicago branch of a computer company whose ruthless CEO (Jennifer Aniston) wants to impose massive layoffs. The CEO's brother (T.J. Miller) runs the company's Chicago branch as if it were an especially genial frat house. It falls to Miller's Clay and Bateman's Josh to find enough business to stave off a total shutdown. To accomplish their mission, they invite a potential major client (Courtney B. Vance) to the company Christmas party. Predictably, the party gets out of hand as directors Josh Gordon and Will Speck (Blades of Glory) try to jam a raft of supporting players (Rob Corddry, Kate McKinnon and more) into the preposterously overstated mayhem. Olivia Munn has a larger role as a computer whiz and love interest for Bateman's character. I won't bore you (or myself) with a recital of the tasteless gags you'll find in Office Christmas Party -- from prostitution to cocaine to a pimp (Jillian Bell) with a personality disorder. The movie's employees work for a company called Zenotek Data Storage Systems, which made me wonder whether someone (the Russians?) hadn't hacked most of the laughs out of this collection of comic missteps. Only McKinnon, as the flatulent head of human services, brought a smile to my face, which most of the time was either in full or partial grimace.

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