As unimaginative as its title, Office Christmas Party starts strong but declines into nonsense. No American tech company story is complete without a super-cool boss trying to balance a congenial work space environment with steady profit margins and a geek of South Asian origin with an imaginary hot girlfriend. The writers take the stereotypes and give them a bigger office with a bigger budget party complete with a horse galloping through, real babies for the Nativity scene and Chicago Cubs baseball player Jimmy Butler in a cameo.
A lot of this feels like the Silicon Valley TV series but not as well written. In fact, Silicon Valley’s TJ Miller headlines Official Christmas Party as Clay, a stupid rich kid who has dined out on privilege and whose arch enemy is his resentful and grouchy sister Carol (Jennifer Aniston).
As interim CEO, Carol is threatening to shut down Clay’s Chicago office but offers them one chance to save themselves. Clay, his chief technical officer Josh (Jason Bateman) and tech whiz colleague Tracey (Olivia Munn), have one make-or-break chance left to make the pitch of a lifetime. Clay’s genius idea is to blow up the rest of his savings and inheritance to throw the office Christmas party to trump all office parties.
What human resources head (Kate McKinnon, who brings mischief to her part) describes as “a non-denominational holiday mixer” rapidly turns into a hedonistic night of debauchery. Scenes of the degeneration of the party are intercut with evolving tracks of sibling rivalry, a brewing office romance and senior level camaraderie. One of the edgier characters is the building security guard, who goes all Die Hard on the out-of-control party.
Bateman and Aniston, who co-starred in the other questionable comedy Horrible Bosses, reunite for such a braindead film you wonder what the six writers (story and screenplay) and two directors (Josh Gordon, Will Speck) were doing. Even the cast of A-grade comic actors cannot lift this drivel, which guests worse with the introduction of random characters such as the Uber driver, an escort service entrepreneur and a crotchety customer relations executive. A cup of whatever is being served at this party might have made it easier to tolerate these 105 minutes.