Corporate Animals, directed by Patrick Brice (Creep) and featuring a star-studded ensemble, is a crazy and hilarious new dark comedy set in the world of corporate team-building. Although its combination of wacky and pitch black humor is unlikely to appeal to most who see the film, this is the type of movie that seems destined to gain a cult following when all is said and done.
The film follows a group of employees for an edible cutlery company who are on a team-building retreat together when the cave in which they are spelunking collapses, trapping them underground and bringing out the worst in all of them. Admittedly, this is a very simple setup, but it is effective nonetheless, providing plenty of opportunities for witty banter, dark gags, and some interesting commentary.
Writer Sam Bain obviously has a very critical stance of the business world, and that passion comes across in the movie. Granted, one almost wishes that the script would have taken it even further in points, particularly in relation to the tyrannical CEO character played by Demi Moore, but what the film does convey feels very funny and timely.
The characters in the movie are all very exaggerated, but that is the point of satire like this. However, the way in which the dynamic between the characters is built, destroyed, and re-built over the course of the film is quite impressive. Beyond all the toxic competition that results from the dog-eat-dog situation in which the characters find themselves is a sense of camaraderie that is quite refreshing.
Of course, the main reason why most people will be interested in seeing this movie is the great ensemble it has, and they are the true highlight of the film. Comedians such as Ed Helms, Karan Soni, and Jessica Williams are all very funny in their roles, but veteran actress Moore is the standout. She is at her best in years, delivering a performance that is both a ton of fun to watch and surprisingly nuanced in its portrayal of megalomania.
Thanks to the comedically-talented cast in the movie, the humor is able to successfully land even if it isn’t the most intelligent or diverse. There are multiple running gags in the film that get old over time, and some of the humor can be a bit mean-spirited, but the charm of the performers keeps you laughing despite these issues with the script.
On a technical level, the movie was pretty good. A majority of the film is set in a single location — an underground cave — and the production design and cinematography do a good job of mimicking that intense feeling of claustrophobia that the characters are feeling in their entrapment. Additionally, there are a few very ambitious sequences, including an animated one, that are quite creative and fun to watch.
It is understandable why Corporate Animals won’t click with some — it’s a bit messy and the style of humor won’t be everyone’s cup of tea — but those who connect with the movie’s darkly humorous nature will likely love it. It’s disappointing that this won’t be getting a full theatrical release, but at least people will get the chance to see it.
Corporate Animals hits theaters and VOD on September 20.