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Office Christmas Party

Directors Josh Gordon and Will Speck, a trio of screenwriters and most of the cast of Office Christmas Party should land on Santa's naughty list for this relentlessly foul-mouthed comedy of errors. Hung on the flimsiest of dramatic conceits, this vulgar valentine to behaving badly under the influence of alcohol, drugs and excessive testosterone possesses no airs and graces. The script plays pass the parcel with thinly sketched characters' emotions, orchestrating romantic entanglements to ensure a generous slosh of saccharine cheer over the end credits, which are festooned with the usual array of out-takes. Amidst the debauchery, pop culture references and stolen reindeer, there are a couple of decent laughs, but it's hard to know whether credit is due to the actors' inspired ad-libs or a gilded one-liner on the page. Either way, Office Christmas Party is less the sum of its starry parts and doesn't do justice to an ensemble that includes Jennifer Aniston, Jason Bateman, TJ Miller and Saturday Night stalwart Kate McKinnon, who impersonated Hillary Clinton with aplomb during the ill-tempered presidential campaign. Hard-nosed CEO-in-waiting Carol Vanstone (Aniston) is unimpressed with the Chicago branch of IT company Zenotek run by her party-loving brother, Clay (Miller). Determined to prove her steely resolve to the board, Carol makes the cold-hearted decision to initiate cost-cutting redundancies and renege on the promise of end-of-year bonuses. "All branch Christmas parties are cancelled," she adds with a glare. Clay and chief technical officer Josh (Bateman) plead with Carol to show compassion and she agrees to cancel the lay-offs if they close a 14 million US dollar deal with Walter Davis (Courtney B Vance) and his company, Data City. Goofball Clay believes they should invite Walter to the most extravagant Christmas party in the company's history, which he will stage behind Carol's back. Josh's right-hand woman Tracey (Olivia Munn) and politically correct head of HR, Mary (McKinnon), collaborate on plans for the ultimate festive shindig, but as news spreads about free drinks at the Zenotek offices, everyone in the city descends on the building. Alcohol flows and nice guy employee Nate (Karan Sori) becomes enslaved to a sassy escort called Savannah (Abbey Lee) and her gun-toting pimp Trina (Jillian Bell), while Clay's caring personal assistant Allison (Vanessa Bayer) discovers her mild-mannered office crush Fred (Randall Park) has an alarming fetish. Office Christmas Party is a tinsel-strewn vision of Sodom and Gomorrah that will be hair of the dog for undemanding audiences who enjoyed The Hangover. Aniston manages to keep a straight face as the mean-spirited company exec, who spitefully ruins Yuletide for one unsuspecting child, and she also pockets some of the best physical humour. Miller essays another lovable goofball, while Bateman maintains a modicum of calm as everyone around him loses their minds and inhibitions sat atop a photocopier.