Office Christmas Party

Directors: Josh Gordon, Will Speck (2016) BBFC:

Jennifer Aniston does what she can to be the life and soul of this tepid festive comedy but she only succeeds in putting everyone else to shame.

As Carol the boss from hell, in killer louboutins she strides into the under achieving Chicago branch of her data firm and threatens to sack everybody, as well as cancelling everyone’s bonus.

The goofy T. J. Miller plays her childish brother Clay. As the boss of the under fire office, he decides to save his employees by throwing an apocalyptic party to impress an important client and so hit his sales target.

Redundancy is an appropriate theme. There’s a nerdy IT guy, an angry customer relations bloke, and an escort selling party favours. A bloke dressed as Jesus is given the best line.

The more the booze flows, the quicker the plot runs dry. A weak script resorts to a car chase and the cast ad-lib to fill the gap where the jokes should be.

Sadly Aniston is soon ushered off stage and we’re left with Jason Bateman and Olivia Munn and their dull romantic subplot.

Kate McKinnon off-kilter delivery was the highlight of this year’s Ghostbusters reboot but she contributes little to the party spirit as a farting HR officer. There’s no need to RSVP.

@ChrisHunneysett

Central Intelligence

Director: Rawson Marshall Thurber (2016)

In every sense the world’s biggest movie star, Dwayne Johnson’s huge charisma, charm and frame dominates this entertaining action comedy.

As a rogue CIA agent Robbie Weirdich, Johnson is like Jason Bourne on comedy steroids, combining a tremendous sense of goofy fun with the ability to fight his way out of a kitchen using only a banana.

The name of the character name is a pointer to the sophistication of the film’s humour.

Robbie is framed for the death of his partner and so lands unexpectedly on the doorstep of Calvin, his erstwhile best friend from high school.

Squeaky voiced comic Kevin Hart is refreshingly restrained and occasionally even funny as Calvin.

In order to accommodate the pneumatic presence of Johnson, Hart is squeezed into a rare straight man role. Although rarely allowed to ad lib in his usual shouty style, whenever Hart wriggles free the film stalls.

Once the king of the high school prom and predicted for greatness, Calvin is now a dull accountant and is having difficulties at home. Danielle Nicolet is sweetly concerned as his beautiful wife, Maggie.

Calvin reluctantly teams up with his erstwhile buddy to attempt to recover some military files while being pursued by the CIA.

Through all the chases, fights, escapes, interrogation, torture and some terrifying relationship therapy, it’s the strong comic rapport between the leads which keeps us engaged.

Amy Ryan is keeps a straight face as an icy CIA chief, Aaron Paul makes an impression in a small role and Jason Bateman and Melissa McCarthy cameo.

The story is predictable but Central Intelligence blasts along with a fun energy, decent stunts and some surprisingly violent action. Though not an over abundance of intelligence.

@ChrisHunneysett

 

 

 

 

 

Zootropolis

Director: Byron Howard, Rich Moore & Jared Bush (2016)

Spring an Easter surprise on your kids with this arresting animated tale of a crime busting bunny.

It’s a joyously bright eyed and bushy tailed adventure with a Disney heroine quite like no other.

Gone are the doll figured fairytale Princesss of old and replaced with a smart, sharp and agile doe who’s easily the equal to any buck. Or any other creature.

A small town rabbit with big time dreams, Judy Hopps goes against her cautious parents advice and enrols at Police academy before heading off to the soaring skyscrapers of Zootropolis.

It’s where animals of every stripe and hue live in mostly civilised harmony with none of that anti social eating of each other.

When Hopps’ reluctant chief gives her forty eight hours to crack the case of a missing Otter, it leads to the discovery of a plot to unleash the animal nature of every predator in the city.

She teams up with Nick Wilde, a streetwise Fox who opens her eyes to the challenges of living and working in the big city.

Far from being the dumb cute bunny she’s patronised as, Hopps is brave, hard working, and determined to be the best.

Ginnifer Goodwin and Jason Bateman are inspired casting and bring sparky humour, chemistry and the slightest hint of romance.

Idris Elba plays Chief Bogo, the buffalo chief of Police and offers a brilliantly concise and funny critique of Disney’s irritating mega smash Frozen.

J.K. Simmons plays the Lionheart the Mayor and singer Shakira is Gazelle, a famous beauty and singer of forgettable songs.

Being filled with charming invention make the laboured riffs on The Godfather and TV’s Breaking Bad all the more disappointing.

The script twists time and scale to comic effect and there’s a blue flower nod to the work of Philip K. Dick, which may well be a first for a mouse house movie.

Of course underpinning all the fun is a typical Disney message of universal tolerance and understanding, but don’t let that stop you having a thumper of a good time.