For decades, hard-working Americans have learned valuable lessons from the big screen.
- "Clerks" showed us how the life and times of a convenience store cashier could be filled with more comedy and tragedy than a Shakespeare festival.
- "Wall Street" proved that money talks, tells lies and can land us in the clink for 25 to 30 years.
- "Office Space" taught us the therapeutic value in smashing a fax machine to smithereens.
So what about this summer's entries into the working world genre?
In "Larry Crowne," Tom Hanks plays a recently fired 50-something retail manager who decides to go back to school. Larry is a glass-is-half-full kinda guy, and he decides to make lemonade out of lemons. Unfortunately, this last cliche-riddled sentence is just the kind of writing comprising the "Larry Crowne" screenplay. It's what happens when rich folks in Hollywood try to make movies about everyday people with everyday problems. They dumb it down. So see "Larry Crowne" with caution; optimism is the perfect tonic for adversity, but odds are that real unemployed people are facing substantially higher hurdles than whether or not to tuck in their polo shirts.
That brings us to "Horrible Bosses," a foul and funny flick showing us how three unhappy schleps deal with their monsters in the big swivel chairs. As the title suggests, characters played by Charlie Day ("It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia"), Jason Sudeikis ("Saturday Night Live") and Jason Bateman ("Arrested Development") plot to make their bosses disappear over happy hour beers. And soon it becomes amateur hour. The takeaway here? If your boss is destroying your life, talk to him or her first. I mean really get it all off your chest. Hug it out, metaphorically speaking. If that doesn't work (and you're considering bustin' open the piggy bank to post a Craigslist ad seeking a hit man), look for a new gig. If nothing else, the movie is also a reminder to give that new potential manager a good once-over when you’re out on the job search. Make sure you’ll be able to work together before giving the thumbs up. (Here is how to deal with five tough bosses)
Not all workplace-themed movies are going to speak to our hearts. Actually, the best movies of all help us forget about our working world troubles, whether it's a recent lay-off or a less-than-stellar manager, for at least 90 minutes.