Office Christmas Party (3 stars)

Office Christmas Party

TJ Miller steals the show in this sweet and anarchic festive comedy

From directors Josh Gordon and Will Speck, Office Christmas Party has all the pace and promise of a seasonal version of The Hangover or Horrible Bosses and boasts two of the latter's stars. Jason Bateman headlines this timely tale as Josh Parker the chief technical officer at the Chicago division of tech company Zenotek, who is clinging to the hope of landing one big client before the year's end, as they face the prospect of being shut down by their hard-hearted CEO Carol Vanstone (Jennifer Aniston). Sharing the office are genius programmer (Olivia Munn), crazed HR manager (Kate McKinnon) and a variety of other characters, all of whom add to the hilarity as the clock ticks.

Enter a hell of a twist in the form of comedian TJ Miller (Deadpool). He's Clay Vanstone, president of the branch in question and brother of Carol, and as hard-partying and lovable as his sister is not. Forbidden from throwing a Christmas party for his under-performing site, Clay does it anyway, transforming the office into a hellish vision of a holiday party, with watercoolers labelled gin, vodka and tequila, live reindeers, a rented baby and an unsavoury selection of staff backstories. Lending necessary heart, Miller's nuanced turn pivots on his character's determination to prove himself beyond his privileged childhood as their father's favourite. As he says himself, he's not just a trust-fund kid who can't remember how he killed his sister's horse; Clay is hapless but he's very real too – you'll be hard pressed not to cry when he holds up a Polaroid of his father and prays to be a better boss.

Not quite as tightly scripted as it might be, Office Christmas Party is still funny and imaginative but it works best as a breakthrough platform for Miller, who gives a performance you cannot forget. Sentimental and just plain mental, this is the comedy we need this holiday season.

General release from Wed 7 Dec.

Office Christmas Party

  • 3 stars
  • 2016
  • US
  • 1h 45min
  • 15
  • Directed by: Josh Gordon, Will Speck
  • Cast: Jennifer Aniston, T. J. Miller, Jason Bateman, Kate McKinnon, Olivia Munn, Jamie Chung, Courtney B. Vance, Jillian Bell
  • UK release: 7 December 2016

The Chicago division of tech company Zenotek is facing the prospect of being shut down by hard-hearted CEO Carol (Aniston) when branch president Clay (Miller) steps in to throw a Christmas party. Funny and imaginative seasonal comedy with great work from Miller as the lovable wastrel and a fine supporting cast (Munn…