Movie review: This 'Office Christmas Party' never gets as wild as it wants

Brad Keefe, Columbus Alive
"Office Christmas Party"

While audiences haven't exactly flocked to the mean-spirited (and inferior) "Bad Santa 2," this weekend brings another chance to deck the halls with boughs of raunchy.

The ensemble comedy "Office Christmas Party" takes the familiar and often stale workplace party and turns it into a full-blown bacchanal. Oddly, the movie is never quite as wild.

Jason Bateman plays a mid-level executive at a Chicago technology firm. His boss, Clay, is a well-meaning manchild (T.J. Miller of "Silicon Valley") who is facing pressure about his underperforming branch from his uptight CEO sister (Jennifer Aniston).

Threatened with potential layoffs, Clay doubles down on a wild drunken office party in an effort to woo a client. Hilarity ensues.

Co-directors Josh Gordon and Will Speck ("Blades of Glory") have a lot of funny people to work with up and down the cast. Standouts include Kate McKinnon (duh) as a busybody HR director and a scene-stealing Jillian Bell.

Some of the workplace familiarity makes this a fun fantasy world. I mean, who doesn't want to get coked up and naked at the office party, right? And the night inevitably leads to increasing shenanigans and destruction.

The only problem here is that the laughs just aren't as prevalent as a zany comedy requires. It's a steady stream of chuckles, thanks to the hard work of the cast more than the writing. And it never really takes off into full-blown roars of laughter.

The cast is generally likable, so it's a passable comedy if that's your itch. But you might want to hit the spiked nog a little before you go.

"Office Christmas Party"

Opens Friday

2 ½ stars