Staff Picks: The best movies about work

Office Space is a classic movie about an awful boss.

Sorry to Bother You // Delilah Bourque, Culture editor

“Sorry to Bother You” (2018, Dir. Boots Riley) is a movie that defines categorization. In the movie, Cassius “Cash” Green (Lakeith Stanfield) is under pressure to move him and his girlfriend, Detroit (Tessa Thompson), out of his uncle’s garage. To make ends meet, Cash takes a job at telemarketing firm Regalview, where he is advised by his older colleague to use his “white voice” on the phone to make calls. Cash quickly skyrockets through the ranks at Regalview, landing a job as one of their elite “Power Callers.” Cash quickly realizes that the Power Callers aren’t selling random junk, but actually sell arms and unpaid labor — a face he must accept to keep his position.

While it sounds like a somewhat straightforward movie, “Sorry to Bother You” devolves into absolute insanity. The plot twists and turns in unpredictable directions, and the performances — especially from Stanfield and Thompson — are spectacular. Riley’s direction and writing give insightful commentary into workplace culture in capitalist society and race, while also remaining funny and surreal.

Tommy Boy // Sara Nuss, Staff Writer

“Tommy Boy” is one of my all time favorite cult classic comedy movies about work, featuring the hilariously funny Chris Farley and David Spade. “Tommy Boy” is about a recent college graduate, Tommy Callahan (Farley) who finally graduated college after seven long years. Following this transition, Tommy eases his way into his father, Big Tom’s (Brian Dennehy), business selling auto parts for Callahan Auto.

When Tommy’s father suddenly dies, he is handed the family business and soon realizes that the company could be bought out by the owner and operator of a rival automotive parts company, Ray Zalinsky (Dan Aykroyd). Determined to keep the business even though no one believes in his ability to run it, Tommy and his father’s secretary, Richard (David Spade), go on a cross-country sales trip with a goal to sell 500,000 brake pads to keep the business up and running.

Overall, if you are looking for a laid-back and entertaining movie about work that will keep you laughing until the very end, “Tommy Boy” is the right choice for you. This movie is filled with moments that will make your stomach hurt from laughing too much, especially with the stupid shenanigans that Tommy and Richard encounter on their roadtrip and the endless amount of bickering they do along the way. Chris Farley and David Spade deliver a spectacularly funny performance to keep you invested from beginning to end.

Nine to Five // Siddhi Shockey, Staff Writer

Some of my best childhood memories are of me and my mom watching “Nine to Five,” laughing over a huge bowl of popcorn. This ’80’s film is set in a workplace from hell — cubicles galore, no personal items on desks and a boss whose only interest is in climbing the corporate ladder. The storyline follows the antics of no-nonsense widow Violet Newstead (Lily Tomlin), Doralee Rhodes (Dolly Parton) as a receptionist with the disposition of a southern belle and newcomer and divorcee Judy Bernly (Jane Fonda).

As their tyrannical boss, Franklin Heart Jr. (Dabney Coleman), continues to marginalize and patronize them, the three women begin to bond over their mutual hatred of him. One night, after a few too many glasses of wine, the women fantasize about the most comical ways they’d like to get rid of him. Although it begins as just a joke, they quickly find themselves in trouble after they think they accidentally poisoned their boss. The film follows the hilarious situations the three women get into as they attempt to take back the office from their “sexist, egotistical, lying, hypocritical bigot” of a boss and show the power of independent women in the workplace.

Unicorn Store // Emmaline LaRocque, For the Pitt News

“Unicorn Store” came to Netflix in early 2019 featuring Brie Larson as both director and main character Kit. After she gets kicked out of art school, Kit is thrown into the real world and must get a job. This colorful artist lands an office job drawing mock-up vacuum advertisements. This average office job turns dark when Kit is harassed by her manager. With her juvenile mindset, this goes completely over her head. While at work Kit receives a beautifully scripted letter with the offer of a lifetime — getting her very own pet unicorn.

Samuel L. Jackson appears as “The Salesman” and details what Kit would need to do to receive the unicorn. With several gargantuan tasks ahead, Kit makes a friend — a friendly fellow from the hardware store named Virgil (Mamoudou Athie). Though getting a unicorn is Kit’s greatest wish in life, she abandons the opportunity to preserve the friendship she created for herself on the journey. This happy-go-lucky film is perfect for any quiet Tuesday night.

Office Space // Caroline Bourque

Director Mike Judge satirizes corporate culture in this 1999 cult classic starring Ron Livingston as Peter Gibbons and Jennifer Anniston as love interest Joanna. The story follows a pack of corporate drones who quickly become fed up with the daily grind at their nondescript workplace — a software company called Initech.

After a hypnotherapy session gone wrong, protagonist Peter can no longer summon the effort to go through the soul-sucking motions of his job as a programmer. He begins skipping work regularly, eventually striking up a romance with the similarly disillusioned waitress Joanna, who is employed by a TGI Friday’s-esque restaurant chain called “Chotchkies.”

The announcement of a mass downsizing at Initech kicks the plot into high gear, prompting Peter and his two coworkers to infect the company’s accounting system with a virus designed to slowly deplete its finances. As their sneaky heist goes haywire, the three coworkers find themselves on a runaway train toward a cathartic corporate takedown. This film is the perfect last hurrah for any current liberal arts student/future corporate sellout.

 

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