If you polled comedy writers about subjects that were hard to make funny, cannibalism would sit near the top of the list. But that didn’t stop writer Sam Bain and director Patrick Brice from trying with Corporate Animals, an uneven lampooning of the ways we dehumanize ourselves in the workplace through cultish corporate culture. Though the epitome of the term “acquired taste,” the movie has a couple of dozen good laughs and will likely be adored by lovers of the audacious and weird. If that doesn’t describe you then keep away.

We are living through this great anxiety where there exists an awareness that the corporations we are beholden to are absurdly dangerous. When employed, we sign on for things like the company’s core values and buzzwords, making loyalty performative while we hope to survive the next downsizing. This is true for old companies and startups. Bain and Brice mine these truths and disperse what they find among the staff of Incredible Edibles, a company that made its millions by creating edible cutlery. Lucy (a seemingly ageless Demi Moore), the company’s CEO, exudes grandiosity about her company’s planet-saving possibilities in the corporate video at the start of the film, but that’s another corporate sin. Edible cutlery is one of the least-you-can-do solutions to climate change, but you would think that Lucy invented a permanent sustainable energy solution by her grandiosity.

For reasons that will be revealed later, Lucy takes her staff to New Mexico for a team-building weekend. Her employees range from scrawny to overweight with attitudes that would fit at Dunder Mifflin, but Lucy demands that they work together moving boulders and exploring caves. Disappointed at the progress of her team’s effort, she convinces Brandon (Ed Helms, also a producer), their douchey guide, to take them down caverns meant for only the most experienced outdoors people. Despite their fears and complaining, the team makes it through to a beautiful inner cavern where a cave-in robs them all of their sudden sense of possibility. Brandon’s head and torso are crushed, leaving the hapless group to survive by their own means. Comedy ensues, but hilarity never arrives at the party.

The performances carry the movie. Jessica Williams and Karan Soni play Jess and Freddie, respectively, competitors for a promotion to vice president who find they have more in common when real survival (not job security) is on the line. Isiah Whitlock, Jr., Dan Bakkedahl and Martha Kelly form the middle-aged contingent of Derek, Billy and Gloria. They are the type of workers that never vie for anything except early retirement. Nasim Pedrad plays gentle Suzy and Jennifer Kim plays May. While their places in the office hierarchy are never quite clear, they deliver great one-liners and their relationship is the source of some of the film’s best comedy. They all form an all-star ensemble of familiar faces that are great here, but would be amazing to watch in a much better movie. Helms and the Duplass brothers form connective points on the credits of all the players, so maybe this was an exercise in calling in favors. But, whatever force brought all these brilliant comic lights together, the movie is elevated for it.

But while it’s not great, Corporate Animals offers surprises as a parody of workplace sitcoms like “The Office.” The bulk of the film takes place in the cavern, and the passions, resentments, anger and flesh-eating that are revealed are played perfectly straight. The movie doesn’t take itself seriously, but the actors do, and that’s the alchemy required to make cannibalism funny. The expression on the face of the actor who takes the first bite is a knockout. The film is structured to take place during random days of the group’s survival and each one contains something memorable. They are sketches with a through line that connects to the whole of the story, each a groaner and unapologetically so. Many people will hate this movie. Its potential for multiple Razzie award nominations is high. But that’s the point. We are in this endless conversation about where comedy is allowed to go these days. Well, Corporate Animals treads on taboo. It’s not for the mainstream, but for people hungry for something else. You see, cannibalism jokes are hard.

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