Corporate Animals

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Reviewed by: Owen Van Spall

Corporate Animals
"Rarely becoming laugh-out-loud funny to compensate for any sophistication in the conceit, Corporate Animals is at its best when it takes the ludicrous scenario into the craziest, ickiest areas." | Photo: Courtesy of Sundance Film Festival

You might well have fantasised about going postal and killing your boss, but have you considered killing them…and eating them? This ends up being the scenario facing a group of senior employees who work for an ethical startup, when their super-woke and tone-deaf entrepreneur CEO takes them on a cave spelunking team-building exercise that leaves them trapped underground following a rockfall.

Following up The Overnight, director Patrick Brice doesn’t go for the subtle approach here working to writer Sam Bain’s screenplay; I mean, the entire concept is that an group of ‘edible cutlery’ pioneers are locked in a situation where they might have to consider how edible they all are when their meagre supplies run out. A hard-to-digest lesson in capitalism as consumption looms. Rarely becoming laugh-out-loud funny to compensate for any sophistication in the conceit, Corporate Animals is at its best when it takes the ludicrous scenario into the craziest, ickiest areas.

It helps that the cast is good, being made up of plenty of faces I recognise from Saturday Night Live, The Daily Show, and elsewhere in comedy. Though Demi Moore remains a baffling choice as Lucy, the egotistical, megalomaniac CEO of Incredible Edibles and the cheerleader for her management team’s trip into the New Mexico desert, her long-suffering assistants Freddie and Jess (to whom Lucy has both offered the same job, intending for a bit of Darwinian competition) are embodied by Karan Soni and Jessica Williams, who keep up a good back and forth of narcissistic whining and childish competitiveness. Isiah Whitlock Jr calls bullshit from the sidelines in that unmistakable drawl that The Wire fans will remember, and Martha Kelly deadpans well as one of the veteran and world-weary female managers. But far too many of the gags smell reheated - eye-rolling wokeness, pathetic incel-ism and cringe-inducing misogyny being the main cards played. Some surreal sequences where several characters hallucinate due to starvation, dehydration and a case of eating some bad newts are largely superfluous.

The film finds its feet when it actually sees the characters pursue the various crazy-but-logical solutions to their dilemma to their satisfyingly grotesque endpoint, such as actually following through on their vote to eat the first casualty of the rockfall, their irritatingly macho guide Brandon (Ed Helms). Brandon, in short order, is devoured, and is left a bloody mess of bones and entrails in the corner. Office politics then has to continue but with the ever-present fact that everyone is now a cannibal - it's not something that can be just put in a drawer marked ‘tabled’. This is what the office lovebirds May (Jennifer Kim) and Suzy (Nasim Pedrad) find out when Suzy reveals to her lover that she was actually sleeping with Brandon just before they got together. Beating your rival in love is one thing, knowing they are hanging around in your immediate environment, but that you also ate them is another. Sadly, his line of comedically mixing gross-out body horror with relatable workplace fault lines doesn’t occupy enough of the running time.

Reviewed on: 30 May 2019
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Disaster strikes when the egotistical CEO of an edible cutlery company leads her long-suffering staff on a corporate team-building trip in New Mexico. Trapped underground, this mismatched and disgruntled group must pull together to survive.

Festivals:

Sundance 2019

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