The 1980s and 1990s were the last decades when work and love were two of the most common subject matters in both songs and movies. Sheena Easton scored a number-1 hit in 1980 with "Morning Train," a song about a woman who waits all day for her man to get home from work. Donna Summer scored a top-5 hit in 1983 with "She Works Hard For The Money." Other work anthems like "Bang the Drum All Day" by Todd Rundren and "Working For The Weekend" by Loverboy didn't chart as high, but remain popular in 2019.
Virtually every American over age 35 has seen the following classic movies about work at least once. But younger folks who need a good laugh about work and the realities of office culture will enjoy these timeless comedies (Note: no spoilers contained herein).
"Corporate account payable, Nina speaking...just a moment." "Mmm...yeah." These are just a few of the rated PG memes and quotes that are still repeated on social media and in real life almost every hour, 20 years after "Office Space" first hit theaters.
The film revolves around Peter Gibbons (Ron Livingston), a disgruntled software programmer working for a company called Initech. It would be an understatement to say Peter hates his job. His days start off fighting rush hour traffic, only to arrive at the office and get an electrostatic shock just from touching the door handle every day. He then has three different bosses tell him that he forgot to put cover sheets on his TPS reports.
Two of Peter's co-workers and closest friends, Michael and Samir, get fired as part of company restructuring. Meanwhile Peter received occupational hypnotherapy and started showing up late to work, or simply not showing up at all. Despite his lackadaisical performance and essentially trying to get fired, Peter was promoted. But he still hated his job and wanted to punish company, especially his boss, Lumbergh.
The trio conjured up a scheme to implant a virus into the company's mainframe computer and steal fractions of a penny from every transaction that is processed through the company software. This would accumulate over many years and give the guys a nice chunk of cash to split three ways. But while programming the virus, they misplaced a decimal point in the coding and ended up stealing over $300,000 in a couple days. Now they had to figure out how to put the money back without anyone noticing, or go to jail. The ending is great and forever made red Swingline staplers iconic.
Jack Butler (Michael Keaton) is an automotive engineer in Detroit who just got laid off from his job. Due to the recession, Jack had few options at finding another job. Caroline, his wife, had been a stay-at-mom for years, but landed a job as an advertising executive. This left Jack to become "Mr. Mom" and handle all household duties including raising the three kids.
This movie shows how much times have changed in the last several decades. Caroline's first day on the job showed everyone smoking cigarettes around the conference room tables as they discussed ad campaigns for Schooner Tuna. Meanwhile Jack had no idea how to load a washing machine, didn't know how to order meat at the grocery store deli, and created traffic jams trying to drop his oldest son off at school.
The plot twists are engaging throughout, from Caroline's new boss hitting on her to Jack hanging out with other "housewives" and having indecent thoughts and dreams about one of them. You'll laugh and cheer throughout the movie.
Dolly Parton, Jane Fonda, and Lily Tomlin. That lineup alone makes "9 to 5" a must-see movie. Judy Bernly (Fonda) just got divorced from her husband and was forced to go out and get a job. She was hired at Consolidated Companies as a secretary. She gets along well with her immediate supervisor Violet Newstead (Tomlin). But their main boss, Mr. Hart, is the prototypical male chauvinist pig. He's so full of himself that he spread rumors around the office that he was romantically-involved with Doralee Rhodes (Parton).
The three women had a good old fashioned pot-smoking party one night (which was rare back then for middle-aged working women) and dreamed about ways they could get rid of Hart. The next day, Mr. Hart ordered Violet to bring him a cup of coffee, a menial task that she absolutely hated. She accidentally put rat poisoning in his coffee instead of artificial sweetener. The two products have identical boxes. Hart passes out in his office and the movie really starts from there.
Work is a necessary evil for all of us. But there's always ways to relax and laugh at the realities we face daily.