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Office Christmas Party’ celebrates a laugh-free holiday

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The holidays lose some humor.

Two stars

Office Christmas Party Jason Bateman, T.J. Miller, Olivia Munn, Jennifer Aniston. Directed by Josh Gordon and Will Speck. Rated R. Opens Friday citywide.

With a title that could have been pulled out of a hat, holiday comedy Office Christmas Party proceeds entirely according to expectations, despite the apparent need for six writers to craft its story. Only the talented ensemble cast rescues the movie from being a complete waste, and even their comedic skills aren’t enough to overcome the poorly structured plot and formulaic lessons.

The Christmas party of the title is a last-ditch effort to save the Chicago branch of a tech company, set to be closed by heartless CEO Carol Vanstone (Jennifer Aniston). Her goofy brother Clay (T.J. Miller), the head of the branch, throws the party to impress a big client whose business could keep everyone employed. Naturally, things get out of hand, in a predictable and tiresome fashion. Carol’s threats to close the office down always come off as empty, so much so that the movie has to invent an entirely new threat for the nearly laugh-free final act (which includes a lengthy car chase).

Despite Aniston’s major promotional presence, the movie’s real star is Jason Bateman as the branch’s CTO, and he gets a bland romance with a co-worker played by Olivia Munn. Supporting players including Kate McKinnon, Vanessa Bayer and Rob Corddry do what they can, but only a handful of jokes land, and most of the movie feels like standing around at a social gathering where no one has anything interesting or clever to say.

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Josh Bell

Josh Bell is the film editor for Las Vegas Weekly, where he's been writing movie and TV reviews since 2002. ...

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