Have you died a little inside from working too long in an office? If so, you're not alone. Working in today's corporate culture can be anything from forcibly fun to soul-suckingly boring. Add an overbearing boss and a dash of office politics, and your workplace may feel like a hilariously tragic reality show. Fortunately, people who work in offices don't need to wallow in self loathing after clocking out each day - a handful of amazing movies help us laugh about the struggles of middle-class corporate America.
Without further adieu, here are some of the best movies that capture the essence of office culture. But first, where are those TPS reports?
Office Space (1999)
The ultimate movie about office culture has to be "Office Space" by Mike Judge. Mike Judge is the creator of the popular MTV series "Beavis & Butthead" and shows his wit in this film. "Office Space" is the story of a group of disgruntled coworkers, and the main character gets hypnotized into believing that he no longer cares about his job. Funny enough, his bad attitude earns him a hefty promotion from a team of management consultants. Meanwhile, his hard-working friends get fired. Hilarity ensues as the group plots its revenge.
Through the film, the main character begins to realize how depressing his existence is. His lack of desire to continue in his dead end job leads to him making major changes in his life. These changes lead to him being much happier by the end of the film. Along the way, though, his perceived lack of desire makes him a hero to anyone who has ever felt oppressed in an office. Face it - you, too, have dreamed of driving that crappy fax machine to a remote location and beating the ink out of it.
Glengarry Glen Ross (1992)
Another great film about office culture is "Glengarry Glen Ross" which is about a group of salesmen working in an office who are forced to sell constantly in order to survive. "Glengarry Glen Ross" is based on a David Mamet Pulitzer prize winning play and has the dialogue he is famous for. His trademarks are combining a large number of expletives with rapid fire delivery. The film explores the unsatisfying life that is created by an endless desire for consumption and placing money over the pursuit of morals. "Glengarry Glen Ross" features amazing performances from an all star cast. Al Pacino plays a slimy successful salesman whose success inspires envy. Alec Baldwin plays another character with questionable morals whose famous catchphrase "ABC - Always Be Closing" summarizes his character.
In the end, "Glengarry Glen Ross" is all about the facade of the American dream. The idea that anyone, if they work hard enough, can earn enough to survive, is parodied in the efforts of one of the salesmen who can never earn no matter how much he tries. The dead end nature of his life is what drives the film forward and shows the dark underbelly of office culture.
Last on our list is "Clerks," the story of a man, Dante Hicks, who is too stuck in his dead-end life to leave his hated dead-end job at the local convenience store. The whole movie takes place in one day as Dante is called in to work on his day off. Right off the bat, everything goes wrong. For starters, Dante can't roll up the metal shutters over the windows, forcing him to hang a sheet proclaiming "I ASSURE YOU: WE'RE OPEN," written in shoe polish. He passes the time BS'ing with his friend Randal, the clerk from the video store next door; they have long conversations about Star Wars and Dante's ex-girlfriend, and they play hockey on the roof. Meanwhile, two slackers and dope dealers - the famed Jay and Silent Bob -- pass the day playing a boom box, swearing and making jokes at passersby. When Dante's ex shows up, he impulsively asks her out - this gets back to Dante's current girlfriend, Veronica, who breaks up with him. This causes Dante to realize a couple things: He actually loves Veronica, and that Randal is a dick. They fight, but then they make up, close their stores and go home, while Jay and Silent Bob dance out front.
All that sounds pretty thin -- and it is -- but the main draws of the film are the clever dialog (the Star Wars rant is a classic), the over-the-top performance of Jayson Mewes as Jay, and how the B&W film nails the drudgery of the work place. The theme is the soul-deadening slog of the everyday, uninspiring job, and how people work against it, and try to keep hope alive even when all seems utterly hopeless. Made by Kevin Smith (his first film) on credit cards and borrowed cash and locations, with amateur actors and crew, the film went on to win awards and become a classic of no-budget cinema, still much beloved today. It also spawned two sequels, an animated series and comic books, and the characters of Jay and Silent Bob were spun into their own movies.