The new film Office Christmas Party is one of those movies that fails to soar or crash with a thud. It takes a decent premise and does nothing memorable with it.
At Christmas, the employees of the Chicago branch of a tech company (led by TJ Miller, Jason Bateman, and Olivia Munn) are about to lose their jobs. Their only hope is to strike a last-ditch deal with a prospective client (Courtney B. Vance). After a standard pitch fails, Miller tries to impress Vance by inviting him to the office’s holiday party.
There are a lot of subplots here, so many that no character feels really developed. Even in a comedy, there’s the potential for pathos in the frustrations of disposable office workers (especially since the end of the year is a popular time for layoffs). But Office Christmas Party fails to capitalize on that potential. That could be forgiven if it had enough raucous laughs. But it doesn’t. It’s R-rated, but without being genuinely subversive like this year’s Sausage Party. Every bit of slapstick is telegraphed in advance (good slapstick relies on surprise).
The movie never really grates on the nerves, but it doesn’t get many laughs, either.