“Corporate Animals” falls into the category of one of the worst cinematic offenders of all: the unfunny comedy. This movie is not even mildly amusing nor entertaining, and nothing about it works. It becomes evident just two minutes in, as the clunky opening obviously is meant to be hilarious, but there are zero laughs. I actually felt some secondhand embarrassment for the filmmakers and cast after their dozens of attempts at comedy continued to fall flat.
Horrible boss Lucy (Demi Moore) leads her staff on a corporate team building exercise deep in the deserts of New Mexico. With a useless spelunking guide (Ed Helms) encouraging the polar opposite coworkers (Martha Kelly, Isiah Whitlock Jr., Martha Kelly, Dan Bakkedahl, Calum Worthy, Nasim Pedrad, Jennifer Kim) to take the advanced route underground, they first hesitate but then follow. When a cave-in traps them beneath the surface with no food and little water, the group must work together in order to survive. After the first day, things don’t seem so bad. But after the third, and fourth, and fifth, the coworkers turn on each other and things get savage.
Screenwriter Sam Bain has created thinly written characters that aren’t relatable. Without any depth to them or the story, it’s hard to care about anything that’s happening onscreen. Most of the dialogue feels improvised, which doesn’t help. The film never gets its footing because not only is the script not funny, the premise isn’t either. The cast of talented comedic actors do their best with the material, but there’s only so much they can do. Jessica Williams and Karan Soni unfairly shoulder much of the burden, but even they can’t keep the film afloat.
A big problem with the cast is Moore. She has zero comedic timing, coming across as unnatural and stiff. She’s trying too hard. And Helms has only a few minutes of screen time. Maybe if his character had stuck around longer, this could’ve been a different movie.
The film goes from bad to worse as the days trapped in the cave tick on, with madness slowly setting in. Just when you think the film can’t derail any further, there’s an awful extended hallucination sequence with ugly animation and bloody body parts. And in a desperate attempt to shock and offend, there’s even a tasteless joke that “your boss has been Weinsteining you.” (As expected, this didn’t go over so well with the Sundance audience at the film’s premiere).
I hated everything about this movie. It didn’t even make me chuckle. Ultimately, this whole thing just feels pointless — except for its front-runner status for worst movie of the year.