Office Christmas Party
Another reminder that allowing your cast to madly improvise instead of actually providing a coherent script with a scintilla of inherent logic often leads to…
There is a suspect: Beckworth (Greg Germann), a neighbor, who is questioned and released after one of the girl's hairs is found in his car. Among the many curious is Carter (Mark Kelly), a schoolteacher who we follow home. He provides a vignette of a video game addict who essentially spends his entire weekend playing a game, while sometimes removing his headphones to follow the story on TV. Since the city knows about Beckworth but only we know about Carter, are we getting a hint here?
Many other stories interlock. To explain their connections would be complicated, but let me describe them. Erik Palladino plays Jerry, a rookie cop whose own child has died. Dane Cook plays a therapist whose marriage is in trouble and who is having an affair with a musician (Aja Volkman). He spends a good deal of time forlornly trying to watch the clock and produce sperm samples for wife Kate (Elizabeth Mitchell).
We meet Allegra (Kali Hawk), the African-American writer on a sitcom, whose secret is "I hate black people. " This isn't much of a secret, because she has a pattern of confiding it to pretty much everyone she meets. Hating other black people is her biggest problem, but she seems to have a related problem: She gets a twisted pleasure out of telling that to people. Her problem is resolved, sort of, in a scene where she makes a friendly gesture to two black men she had been cool toward. This is supposed to be cheerful, part of an uplifting conclusion, but it struck me as contrived and awkward.
One of the most poignant characters is Drew (Miranda Bailey), who cares for her brother, Erik (Vincent Ventresca). He is paralyzed and apparently brain-dead. In a flashback, we learn she was driving drunk when he was injured in an accident. Late in the film, she straps him into a racing chair and pushes him in the "SoCal Marathon," a race he once ran able-bodied. Her determination that they must finish the race becomes a crucial theme. My problem, and I know this sounds heartless: What meaning would it have to him if they finish? For herself, it may be penance, and indeed she may deserve it. But how does it work as an amends when he has no idea what's happening?
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