Sundance London 2019: Corporate Animals Review
Some reviews are best read as public service announcements, to be thought of as a safeguard against your precious time being wasted. The writer takes the bullet so you don’t have to, limping back to their precious keyboard bloodstained and in search of respite – which usually comes in the form of 700 or so disgruntled words. While this review for Corporate Animals is something of an abridged version, it is definitely not lacking in sourness.
A line-up led by Demi Moore, featuring the likes of Ed Helms, Jessica Williams and Isiah Whitlock Jr. might appear to be worthy of your attention. It isn’t. Director Patrick Brice’s film presents itself as a comedy and you might be of the mindset that there should be enough talent there to raise a few laughs. It doesn’t. The warning signs are raised within the first few minutes and by the end no-one walks out of this looking good.
The opening sequence – an advert for a start-up company called Incredible Edibles – riffs on the many buzzwords and phrases that have become the lifeblood of the modern corporate world. They sell edible cutlery as a solution to the save the world from being destroyed by plastic wastage. Lucy (Moore) is the self-absorbed CEO who has taken her staff on a team-building exercise in the New Mexican mountains. Led by Brandon (Helms), they head down for a cave walk before an earthquake hits and they are trapped underground with no way out.
Any idea that Sam Bain’s script will attempt to satirise marketing speak and the ridiculousness of social media is instantly disposed of in favour of a drawn out sketch that seems to wing it as it goes along. The early warning sign mentioned earlier occurs when young intern, Aidan (Calum Worthy), is forced to pull a chunk of wood out of a bloody leg wound. Corporate Animals has nothing else up its sleeve other than relying on gross out humour as a crutch – any sense of wit is missing in action as a cast of seasoned professionals are left flapping in the wind.
Brice’s film is like the worst kind of TV series bottle episode you can imagine. Where shows like Atlanta can cook-up classics such as ‘Teddy Perkins’, or The Sopranos with ‘Pine Barrens’, everything here is boiled down to timid, forgettable one-liners that should never have made it onto the first draft, let alone the finished script. And yet, writer Bain was responsible for penning Chris Morris’ hilarious Four Lions and Peep Show. There’s a turkey or two in us all and hopefully Bain has now got his out of his system.
It’s hard to envisage how Corporate Animals will perform upon release. The jokes are bad enough for it to be a big success and the mostly recognisable cast should be able to sell it to a wider audience. The fear is, if it does well enough, this is exactly the sort of comedy that could spawn a sequel or two, ala Grown Ups. The memory of that abomination should be enough to ensure we never allow the same mistake to happen again. You have been warned.
Corporate Animals will play at Sundance London this weekend - visit the website to see if there are any tickets left.