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Thursday, September 21, 2023

SFFL 2019: Corporate Animals Movie Review

Corporate Animals has its European premiere at Sundance Film Festival 2019: London.

The film focuses on Lucy (Demi Moore) is the egotistical, megalomaniac CEO of Incredible Edibles, America’s premier provider of edible cutlery.

In her infinite wisdom, Lucy leads her staff, including her long-suffering assistants, Freddie (Karan Soni) and Jess (Jessica Williams), on a corporate team-building caving weekend in New Mexico.

When disaster strikes, not even their useless guide, Brandon (Ed Helms), can save them.

Trapped underground by a cave-in, this mismatched and disgruntled group must pull together in order to survive.

Director Patrick Brice brings together an unlikely cast of characters, locks them in a cave and lets them go.

What follows is a nightmarish study of human social interaction, all the while asking the question:

What happens when people stop competing against each other and band together against their oppressor?

Twelve people trapped in a cave, food is depleting, truths are revealed, betrayals and manipulations are exposed, alliances are made… What could possibly go wrong?

The Film Highlights Social Issues

Corporate Animals has an interesting premise.

Whilst we have seen survival films, the angle of employees being trapped with each other is quite different.

Furthermore, the concept of corporate beings turn into animals for survival begs a lot of curiosity.

We see several social topics covered including sexual harassment in which Freddie accuses Lucy of ‘Weinsteining’ him.

It further discusses women sexually harassing men and there is even a dialogue “isn’t that what feminism is for?”

The sexual harassment angle is portrayed in quite a comical way… Which may not be digested well given that the #MeToo movement has gained momentum in Hollywood.

There are several Pop culture references Ethan Hawkins movie and there are some funny moments.

However, the film contradicts the intelligent premise with deadpan humour.

The dim-witted comedy undermines the subjects/issues in the film, which is a shame because the movie could’ve been much more than just a ‘comedy horror film’ per se – like Get Out and Us.

Excessive Gore

The editing transitioning into each day was quite roughly done. The large red font is quite reminiscent of gory 80s horror films like Evil Dead.

This simply mismatched the movie’s style.

Speaking of gore, there is plenty of that and that too shameless amounts of it.

I don’t have issues with gore, but it would be more effective if such sequences are suggestive, rather than expletive.

Given that Patrick Brice gave us goosebumps in Creep, there is no sense of tension created in this, nor is there an ominous fear.

When it comes to the second half, one becomes disenfranchised with the film that the final outcome becomes irrelevant. 

Whilst horror comedies are difficult combinations to master, it is not impossible to do.

But sadly here, there is more of an emphasis on comedy rather than horror.

The Cast – An Ode to Cultural Representation

The saving grace of this film is the cast. Thankfully, there is a representation of cultural diversity.

As such, we get to see two coloured actors – Karan Soni and Jessica Williams – headlining the film.

Both Soni and Williams portray the parts of Lucy’s assistants, who are ambitious and hopeful of striving to succeed in a world which is dominated by whites.

Such roles are a dream to play, though the character writing is drowned in senseless comedy.

Demi Moore is amazing as she usually is.

We have seen some great work from her and she does justice to playing an egotistic boss. However, the material in this does not do justice to her calibre.

Nasim Pedrad tickled our funny bones as Dalia in Aladdin and she does it once again as Suzy, an employee.

Her ability to deliver funny lines whilst maintaining a poker face is phenomenal.

Ed Helms is seen very briefly as Brandon and half-way through the film and his role is quite forgettable.

The rest of the cast – Isiah Whitlock Jr, Calum Worthy and Dan Bakkedahl are decent in their respective roles.

On the whole, Corporate Animals is underwhelming. Whilst it offers some laughs, the humour destabilises the social topics covered.

Moreover, the casting is a major plus point and to see cultural representation in a mainstream film is incredible.

But unfortunately, the movie is weak overall.

⭐⭐.5 (2.5/5 stars)

Anuj Radia
Journalist and film enthusiast.

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