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.



Director: Nicholas Stoller, Doug Sweetland (2016) BBFC cert: U

Swooping into cinemas in time for half term, this bird brained animated adventure offers loopy entertainment for the little ones.

The animation is great, the slapstick is fun and its good natured energy propels the silly story along.

Storks have moved out of baby delivering and now operate a delivery service to rival Amazon. In their vast corporate eyrie of a warehouse, the promotion of the top sales rep is threatened when the firm’s adopted human orphan accidentally creates a baby.

Together they set off to deliver the cute bundle of joy to the right address, suffering setbacks and pursued by a wacky pack of wolves along the way.

Kelsey Grammer and Jennifer Aniston are the voices you’ll recognise as the stork CEO and a career minded mum.

Your kids will learn how to guilt trip you into spending time with them and afterwards you should be prepared to answer a few questions as to where babies really come from. So good luck with that.



Directed: Daniel Barnz (2015)

Jennifer Aniston learns suicide is far from painless in this dark, rich and tasty drama.

Playing a chronic pain sufferer who’s also coping with complex emotional issues, Aniston demonstrates how superb she can be with strong material. Hopefully this is a kick-start to an interesting new phase of her career.

With bad hair, baggy clothes and no make-up but copious scar-tissue, Claire Bennett (Aniston) is a divorcee with low self-esteem and high pain levels; sitting is awkward, standing is tricky and walking is difficult.

Despite months of physical therapy following an accident, her condition hasn’t improved. So Claire is self-medicating with wine and painkillers.

Doctors are scared of her and loyal maid Silvana (Adriana Barraza) is shouldering the emotional fallout as Claire indulges in unsatisfying trysts with the married pool guy and is kicked out of a support group due to anger management issues.

Nina (Anna Kendrick) was a support group friend who committed suicide by throwing herself from a multi-level motorway leaving only a succinct suicide note.

As an expression of Claire’s mental state, Nina now pops up for frequent fantasy conversations – in restaurants, in bed, even at a drive-in. Though Nina encourages Claire to commit suicide, these episodes are far more funny than morbid due to Kendrick’s sparky performance.

Claire is compelled to examine Nina’s life; visiting her grave, seeing the place where she died and even pitching up at the house where she lived – to the bemusement of widower Roy Collins (Sam Worthington).

Worthington’s screen presence can be underwhelming but here his dead pan delivery is warmly engaging and enjoys a sweet comic chemistry with Aniston.

Roy is not afraid to admit he’s bitter at his Nina’s choosing to leave him and their daughter. He and Claire bond over nachos, beer and anger issues. Both are looking for comfort and affection more than sex.

Aniston is the central ingredient of this sensitive, balanced, consistent and surprisingly humorous movie. With charm, intelligence, excellent timing and dramatic delivery she maintains our sympathies even when playing a complex, prickly and manipulative character.

Dusted with a light icing of hope this Cake is deeply satisfying, indulge yourself.