Sundance 2019: Corporate Animals

Demi Moore appears in Corporate Animals by Patrick Brice, an official selection of the Midnight program at the 2019 Sundance Film Festival. Courtesy of Sundance Institute.

Corporate Animals finds a way to hysterically comment on workplace situations during a team-building exercise that just happens to go wrong.

The film sucks us in with a commercial for the Incredible Edible Cutlery Company.  The company’s mission is to rid the planet of disposable plastic cutlery.  While it’s not a bad idea in theory, it’s easier said than done.  Run by CEO Lucy Vanderton (Demi Moore), she’s hoping that a corporate retreat in the New Mexico desert will bring about some positive change.  Lucy believes that one of her newest employees, Jess (Jessica Williams), has the potential to be the “Beyonce of business.”

Leading the employees on the “No I in TEAM” retreat is Brandon (Ed Helms).  Despite Brandon’s expertise, Lucy has other things in mind.  Instead of going on a beginner’s trail, she opts to have her non-experienced team take the advanced trail through the cave system.  Unfortunately, everyone is stuck in the Cathedral Cavern of the El Malpais National Monument when a geological incident takes place…or as we call it, an earthquake.  Trapped in the cave with nowhere to go, the group has to come together like no way before if they want to survive.  This probably was not what Lucy had in mind for a corporate retreat to bring her team together.  Not by a longshot!

Yet the situation goes from bad to worse as they start running out of food.  Lucky for everyone, Aiden (Calum Worthy) always has a sample cutlery set on hand!  Hey, you never know when you’re going to meet someone who is hungry for cutlery!  It could be worse.  They could always end up eating their friends for dinner if they really get hungry!

On top of the dire situation, Sam Bain’s screenplay manages to become one of the first narrative features to comment on the Harvey Weinstein situation.  This is because the film explores the power dynamics between Lucy and people such as Freddie (Karan Soni).  Or as Freddie calls it, “Weinstein-ing.”  There’s a whole lot of social commentary that comes by way of being stuck with the last person anybody wants to be alone with.  Nobody likes Lucy and it shows as she finds herself beginning to lose control of her team.

Patrick Brice manages to assemble a star-studded cast that is heavy on improv comedians.  Directing from Sam Bain’s hilarious screenplay, the laughs never stop from beginning to end.  When a comedy works, it works!  There’s never a dull moment.  I was bending over in my seat from laughing so hard that my stomach hurt during the word premiere.  This is exactly what happens in Corporate Animals and that’s a credit to the entire team.  And you can never go wrong with a hysterical cameo from Britney Spears!

It doesn’t matter what is happening between this cast of characters in Corporate Animals as laughter is non-stop in this workplace satire.

DIRECTOR:  Patrick Brice
CAST:  Jessica Williams, Karan Soni, Isiah Whitlock Jr., Martha Kelly, Dan Bakkedahl, Calum Worthy, Jennifer Kim, Nasim Pedrad, with Ed Helms and Demi Moore

Corporate Grass held its world premiere during the 2019 Sundance Film Festival in the Midnight section. Grade: 5/5

Danielle Solzman

Danielle Solzman is native of Louisville, KY, and holds a BA in Public Relations from Northern Kentucky University and a MA in Media Communications from Webster University. She roots for her beloved Kentucky Wildcats, St. Louis Cardinals, Indianapolis Colts, and Boston Celtics. Living less than a mile away from Wrigley Field in Chicago, she is an active reader (sports/entertainment/history/biographies/select fiction) and involved with the Chicago improv scene. She also sees many movies and reviews them. She has previously written for Redbird Rants, Wildcat Blue Nation, and Hidden Remote/Flicksided. From April 2016 through May 2017, her film reviews can be found on Creators.