Corporate Animals Is Trapped Under the Weight of a Lackluster Script
Workplace comedies often age better than other forms of humor, possessing an easy to relate to quality regardless of the industry being depicted. Incompetent, self-centered bosses are hardly a dime a dozen. Neither is the idea of a company spending money it doesn’t really have on something as silly as a cave spelunking retreat.
Corporate Animals is a film that aims to capture the zeitgeist of worker disenfranchisement. Demi Moore plays Lucy, a racially insensitive fool running Incredible Edibles, a company that makes consumable crockery. Lucy has no trouble stealing her employee’s ideas, or claiming indigenous heritage. Her bits are funny for a few minutes, but the character is so one-dimensional that she starts to grow tiresome not very long into the movie.
To make matters worse, Moore looks increasingly bored as the film goes on. Lucy starts off the film uttering cliché after cliché, before taking on more of a leadership role as the group becomes trapped in a cave. Given Lucy’s importance to the narrative, it doesn’t really make a lot of sense that she was initially depicted in such a superficial manner.
In many ways, Corporate Animals feels like it was written as a spec script for a sitcom that ended up being stretched out for a feature film, much to the detriment of the narrative. The jokes are fairly frontloaded, leaving the second half of the movie rather empty as the gags wear thin. The film has a fairly talented ensemble cast, with Karan Soni and Isiah Whitlock Jr. giving performances that help buoy the film through some of its boring parts. Unfortunately, there’s just too much downtime to make up for.
Much of the film takes place in a single cave location, the kind of set you see a billion times on various Star Trek episodes. The minimalist setting gives the cast a much more heightened sense of responsibility to entertain the audience, something the script doesn’t seem all that prepared to handle. The narrative just kind of strolls along with little sense urgency, even when cannibalism is introduced.
The film’s lackluster second half exposes a broader problem with the narrative. The characters constantly hint at broader problems with the company, stuff that this film doesn’t have the time, or likely the budget, to explore. The script establishes a lot of strong rapports between the ensemble, but it can’t cover up the sense that there’s so much missing from this story. Perhaps making matters worse is the presence of Ed Helms in a minor role, naturally evoking comparisons to The Office that don’t do the film any favors.
Thematically, the film is totally all over the place. It tries to poke fun at corporate incompetence, start-up culture, and green innovation among other topics, never really sticking with one subject for very long. You get the sense that Corporate Animals wanted to be some kind of satire, but its messaging is too scattershot to resemble actual commentary.
Corporate Animals is a mess of a comedy that wastes its talented cast with a meandering script that’s too light on jokes to make for a worthwhile experience. The plot might have made for an interesting twenty minutes of television. Even with a runtime of under 90 minutes, this narrative is stretched far too thin to carry a feature-length film.