CORPORATE ANIMALS – movie review

Screen Media
Reviewed for & linked from Rotten Tomatoes by: Harvey Karten
Director: Patrick Brice
Screenwriter: Sam Bain
Cast: Demi Moore, Ed Helms, Jessica Williams, Karan Soni, Isiah Whitlock Jr., Calum Worthy
Screened at: Park Ave., NYC, 6/14/19
Opens: Sept. 20, 2019

Where would we be without the liberal media, especially Hollywood? Would there be anyone else ready and able to take down the evils of corporate business? With “Corporate Animals,” Patrick Brice, whose “Creep” and “Creep 2” are take-offs on the horror genre, now satirizes a field that that is not just ripe for such treatment but whose practices are often so silly that its members satirize themselves. We’re taking about business. Meetings have been held up to be for the most part time-wasters but an even bigger squandering of resources takes place when employees, now often called “the team” by the suits, are sent out on trips whether kayaking or hill-climbing to challenge their ability to get out of rough situations. The principal aim of this technique is to allow “the team” to bond beyond what they might do on their own in the local pub. In the case of “Corporate Animals,” which features sometimes hilarious ensemble acting, a diverse group of staff members of the company Incredible Edibles, are directed by their CEO, Lucy Vanderton (Demi Moore), to enter a cave in New Mexico and live for a day or two like the people who explored the area first: the Native Americans, from whom Lucy, like Elizabeth Warren, claims to be descended. When a cave-in adds to the challenge, the team get to think and discuss to a greater extent than even Lucy dreamed, providing a movie that is deliciously vulgar in language, concept, and physical exhibitions.

Like so many films nowadays, there are representatives of various ethnic groups and romantic preferences. Lucy and Brandon (Ed Helms) are white, but included in the cast are Jess (Jessica Williams), Lucy’s black assistant, Freddie (Karan Soni) or East Indian ethnicity, Derek (Isiah Whitlock), an African American male, and a few others who serve more to round out the cast than to offer much in the way of hilarity. When their guide, Brandon, is killed by falling rocks while trying to lead a group through a tight cave opening, then a quake rattle the environs, members of the company—whose niche is providing forks, knives and spoons that can be eaten rather than left in landfills—must figure not only how to escape but how to survive without food. If you guessed they considered cannibalism, given that Brandon is already dead, you’re ahead of the game.

The gags are mostly of the off-color kind, like what part of the cave can be used as a bathroom (the result of that decision is shown in gorgeous brown), which rocks to use for privacy if the workers choose to make out, and one woman, Gloria (Martha Kelly), blithely writing a last will and testament assigning which of her colleagues will get to eat her butt cheek when she dies. The most scintillating discussions take place by about day 5, when the staff, contemplating death, have no fear of getting fired and therefore unleash their true feelings about their boss and about each other.

Much credit goes to Sam Bain for his script, a writer whose “Four Lions” in 2010 honed in on four incompetent terrorists planning their evil adventure. “Corporate Animals” was filmed mostly in New Mexico by Tarin Anderson. Demi Moore, who took over the role when Sharon Stone had a scheduling conflict looks terrific at 56.

86 minutes. © 2019 by Harvey Karten, Member, New York Film Critics Online

Story – B-
Acting – B­
Technical – B
Overall – B