Combustible Celluloid
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With: Demi Moore, Karan Soni, Jessica Williams, Ed Helms, Isiah Whitlock Jr., Martha Kelly, Dan Bakkedahl, Jennifer Kim, Nasim Pedrad, Calum Worthy
Written by: Sam Bain
Directed by: Patrick Brice
MPAA Rating: R for pervasive language, sexual content, some gore and brief nudity
Running Time: 86
Date: 09/18/2019

Corporate Animals (2019)

2 Stars (out of 4)

Cave Yelling

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

This mostly laugh-free dark comedy plunges into icky, awful territory, with largely unlikable characters; aside from trying to skewer the American workforce, it doesn't seem to have much of a point.

In Corporate Animals, Lucy (Demi Moore) is the ruthless CEO of an edible cutlery company, ruling with an iron fist. She decides to take eight employees (and interns) on a morale-building cave-exploring trip. Among them, Freddie (Karan Soni) and Jess (Jessica Williams) both covet the soon-to-be-opening position of Vice President.

The rest include: Derek (Isiah Whitlock Jr.), Gloria (Martha Kelly), Billy (Dan Bakkedahl), May (Jennifer Kim), Suzy (Nasim Pedrad), and intern Aidan (Calum Worthy). Against the warnings of their guide Brandon (Ed Helms), she insists on doing the "expert" route. Before anyone knows it, a cave-in has trapped them in an underground cavern, where they must learn to work together and trust one another to survive.

Directed by Patrick Brice (of the clever found-footage horror movies Creep and Creep 2), Corporate Animals begins with a bunch of paper-thin, cartoon-like characters with one-note personalities, and ultimately, it's difficult to care whether they survive their ordeal.

Whitlock's Derek earns the movie's only couple of giggles, but still doesn't feel very rounded. Only Jess seems above it all, which, unfortunately forces the otherwise dynamic, funny Williams into an uncharacteristically sober, rather uninteresting role. The movie's comedic approach should have lightened the oppressiveness of the grimy, claustrophobic cave setting, but instead it only seems awkwardly at odds with it.

The final film is both oppressive and unfunny. The ultimate goal of Corporate Animals remains a mystery. Moore's nasty boss is, eventually, mostly toothless, and a joke about affirmative action and the diverse cast feel terribly misplaced. Better to take a day off from this one.

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