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Smoke, Flicks and Chill: Terrible Job Movies

Celebrate Labor Day with characters whose 9-to-5 sucks more than yours.

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Whether you punch a card, sign a sheet, work in an office, or work from your couch, a job is still a job. You can repeatedly tell yourself how much you’re enthralled by your choice of career path—and that may actually be true for a select lucky few—there’s no denying that a day spent at the beach is significantly better than a day behind a desk, especially if they don't allow you to smoke.

With Labor Day—a holiday intended to celebrate the Labor Movement and the achievements of workers across America—approaching, it’s the perfect time to sit back, spark up, and do absolutely nothing. Rather, you could use that free time well and watch others struggle on-screen at mundane jobs and make yourself feel a little bit better about your grind. Behold, a variety of 9-to-5 movies that show you may not have it that bad after all.

The Devil Wears Prada (2006)

The editorial world is vicious and cutthroat. It’s all about who you know, and in order to get to the top, you typically have to start out scrounging around at the bottom. This adaptation of the novel by Lauren Weisberger is a great representation of that, as post-grad Andrea Sachs (Anne Hathaway) accepts a mundane assistant job in hopes of learning a little something from her highly-feared boss, magazine EIC Miranda Priestly (Meryl Streep). The film is purposeful, well thought-out, and shows that while coffee runs, scarf orders, and international Fashion Weeks are all on the menu, it’s vital to never let a career drastically change your life to the point that there’s nothing left of it. That is, unless Meryl Streep actually is your boss. In that case, do whatever that woman asks.

Office Space (1999)

The comedy that laid waste to all things corporate, Office Space follows the life of dissatisfied, cubicle-bound IT programmer who, after a botched hypnotism, has no care for anything work-related. The cult classic has stood up over time because of how well it plays off of what people in this setting are most likely thinking, giving a satirical look at employees who bond together when work just really, really sucks. Next time you’re in pursuit of a promotion, maybe keep to yourself that you stare at your desk for most of the day.

The Social Network (2010)

You were probably scrolling through Facebook right now, eagerly swiping with your thumb before stumbling upon this article. Mark Zuckerberg’s creation has taken control of the world, becoming a central hub for friends, photos, and vital information that you realistically aren’t even aware you’re sharing. But how did this all even come to be? This drama puts Jesse Eisenberg in Zuckerberg’s shoes, loosely telling the story of the site’s origins, as well as the trials and tribulations that came soon after. If building an empire and becoming the world’s youngest billionaire meant that most of your “friends” would hate you, would you go for the glory?

The Wolf of Wall Street (2013)

Martin Scorsese and Leo DiCaprio show how money is one of the most powerful drugs as the 41-year-old actor takes on the role of real-life stockbroker Jordan Belfort, a man who personified Wall Street’s wealth and corruption until his own life came crashing down before his own eyes. Sex and drugs may sound appealing in the workplace, but not when it can lead to smuggling, wiretapping, and incarceration. We’ll stick to our boring desk job and bagged lunches, thank you very much.

Horrible Bosses (2011)

What do you do when your overbearing, maniacal boss becomes too much to handle? Kill ’em, of course! That’s the thought process of three best friends (Jason Bateman, Charlie Day, and Jason Sudeikis) who hope to steady their own lives by ending their supervisors’. Thanks to a stacked cast and the nonsensical actions of everyone involved (including a sexually-charged performance from Jennifer Aniston), it all just works. While we wouldn’t exactly recommend such violent behavior such as this, it at least provides the solid lesson that revenge is never the answer—most of the time.