Like mostly every other American outrageous comedy, this does nothing to break expectations apart from having tinsel and a Santa costume. A few moments of mild humour break through a overstuffed turkey of a plot but overall it’s a film void of laughter.
At Zenotek, Josh (Jason Bateman) is trying to keep the work staff together over Christmas whilst coming out of a recent divorce. As the jolly holiday nears, CEO Carol (Jennifer Aniston) threatens jobs and closure if her brother, the branch’s manager Clay (T.J. Miller) can’t win a lucrative deal. One desperate option is left and luckily for Clay it falls to throwing a huge office party in the hope of saving the day.
I’ll start by commenting that I’m no bah humbug but this movie could have come any time of the year making no differences, they just hurl the Xmas confetti over the narrative to fit it in hoping to cash in this time of the year. Generally speaking though the plot is messy and tries fitting in an awful lot of characters, backstories, developments, jokes and wrappings up but what we get is a sticky and badly tied together present that you’ll forget about come the new year.
Will Speck and Josh Gordon direct the film like the majority of loud US comedies, there’s no style or difference setting them apart and therefore you get a movie with the usual cliches and tired executions of sequences that do little to stir giggles let alone full belly laughs. It’s not only the direction, within the plot are boring ideas that they stretch out somehow thinking it’s amusing or just pop cultural references that will feel aged very soon.
To its credit, this festive feature has a group of actors who muster up energy and everything else to try and save the movie. There may be a lot of them and that is a weakness but a couple of them perform very well and give the movie a much needed sparkle to sit atop a browning dying tree. There is also some entertainment to be had in watching the madness unfold and marvelling at how quickly the party over spills and gets out of hand.
T. J. Miller is shouty and plays the nutty head honcho to a near annoying extreme but there are times that he softens the role and gives a nice emotion to the man trying to prove himself to a reliably bitchy Jennifer Aniston, working well again in that ‘Horrible Bosses’ cookie cutter character. Kate McKinnon seems to desperately save the movie with a role you wouldn’t blink at if on SNL, though she’s barmy and gets shafted with the most tired comedy tool ever…fart jokes. Jason Bateman is okay but has a dull typical white male problem character to tackle and he adds little to nothing to the growing craziness. Olivia Munn could have had more and gladly gets a slight depth in having reason to exist for the growth of the business and therefore film if not ending in such a predictable manner like the whole movie in fact does.
A few working lights add a muted enjoyable twinkle to the festive season but most of them are duds thanks to failed comedy and usual tired writing leaving you with a totally forgettable movie.