“Office Christmas Party” Not One for the Ages

img_5985Comedians gathered in their cubicle lair, but hijinks and laughter were so rarely there in Will Speck and Josh Gordon’s amateurish lark Office Christmas Party (C-). Granted it’s hard to maintain an anarchic spirit for a full feature film even with talented actors (last year’s listless Sisters was similarly tedious), but this Party rarely gets the proper spike in its egg noggin. T.J. Miller and Jennifer Aniston play sibling opposites battling over the family business; Jason Bateman and Olivia Munn are technologists repairing botched client relationships and a misbegotten corporate social; and Courtney P. Vance is the strait-laced prospect sniffing out signs of lively office culture as the holiday shindig gets out of hand. Each member of this ensemble is phoning it in like a conference call. The reliable Kate McKinnon has some amusing moments as the HR lady, and Jillian Bell steals the show as a trigger-happy pimp who prompts some of the party fouls. Mostly it’s a wall to wall gag fest, with fewer of the pratfalls delivering the goods. Even the pranks involving sex, flatulence and drug-induced delirium – usually surefire bets in this kind of comedy – fail to land. As moviemakers, Speck and Gordon are babes in toyland squandering shiny objects all around them. Their potential watercooler wonderland becomes a bit more like entering your time-sheets.

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