In these less than optimistic times, it is imperative that we be grateful for tender mercies. Having seen the previews for this, I anticipated with dread another gross-out in the style of The Hangover and Bridesmaids, so to say that it is not as bad as I feared is probably the highest praise I can muster for it.
There is a fart joke in the first five minutes, courtesy of Kate McKinnon, the ‘other’ actress who was so grating in the pathetic re-make of Ghostbusters, and there is a predictable indulgence in tits and arse – a dick, too, which has become almost ho-hum – but a reasonable story is threaded through the mire and held together by decent performances and a snappy edit.
Set in Chicago (the windy city gets nowhere near the exposure of New York, but it always looks shiny and vibrant – with snow falling, it’s beautiful), Clay and Carol (TJ Miller and Jennifer Aniston) are siblings at war over the running of their inherited IT company. Clay has always been the slacker, so to win over a potential client who will save his branch of the business from closure, he organises a Christmas party that would make the Satyricon look like a teddy bears’ picnic. The love interest is centred on the brainiac chick who is devising a whole new way of going online (Olivia Munn), and her boss (Jason Bateman, an affable actor who always gives the impression that he has just lost a pound and found a penny).
The gags are topical – the Uber driver (Fortune Feimster) is hilarious – and the language, if in not exactly wholesome, falls short of the execrable boorishness that now passes itself off as witty repartee.
As someone who is only partially addicted to cyberspace, it was a trifle sad to see the exuberance displayed when everybody had their signal restored after going offline, but this is one of those movies in which closing credit bloopers are mandatory – unfortunately, they’re not remotely funny.