6 Great Workplace Comedies That Aren’t ‘Office Space’
When asked to name a workplace comedy, it’s hard not to immediately blurt out Mike Judge’s Office Space. Perhaps it’s the unfair advantage of having the word “office” in its title. Maybe it’s all the memes. Or it could be because Comedy Central has aired it so many times that it had no choice but to become a cult classic.
Regardless, the film that made every office worker want to smash their printer to smithereens with a baseball bat is hardly alone when it comes to the world of workplace comedies. In fact, here are a handful of others that have a rightful place in the metaphorical office park, too…
When Clockwatchers was initially released, Roger Ebert described it as “a rare film about the way people actually live,” which is true based on the title alone. Who amongst us isn’t watching for the clock to strike 5 p.m. during the workday? But what he was really referring to was the band of misfit friends at the center of the film. Played by what is truly a Mount Rushmore of 1990s comedic actresses, Lisa Kudrow, Parker Posey, Toni Collette and Alanna Ubach star as temp workers who are largely ignored and mistrusted by their more established co-workers in ways that many Americans can relate to.
Mike Nichols packs every idiom under the sun into his 1988 rom-com. Judging a book by its cover? It happens. Biting off more than you can chew? You bet. Faking it until you make it? Of course. Melanie Griffith’s plucky Tess McGill proved to America that as long as you have sheer will and determination, you can make anything happen. Even if you’re from Staten Island.
Big not only established Tom Hanks as a Hollywood star, but with a dash of coming-of-age and a sprinkle of body-swap, it showed the different places a “workplace comedy” could go. The 1988 film, which earned Hanks his first Oscar nomination, sees the actor playing a 12-going-on-30-year-old, thanks to a Zoltar fortune-telling machine. It’s a film that speaks power to the phrase “do what you love and you’ll never work a day in your life” — that is, until you’re ready to become a 12-year-old again, because being an adult is kinda rough.
9 to 5
Back in the days when the workday actually ended at five, a little comedy about three fed-up working women hit the big screen and captured America’s heart. 9 to 5 follows Jane Fonda, Lily Tomlin and Dolly Parton as they get even with their sexist boss and fulfill their fantasies of overthrowing the office patriarchy. If you don’t remember the movie, which is hard to believe, you’re sure to have the Grammy-winning song stuck in your head now.
Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy
Will Ferrell’s irreverent Ron Burgundy and the rest of his all-star news crew not only made the film a critical success, but they paved the way to Anchorman becoming one of the most quotable movies ever. Thanks to the arrival of Veronica Corningstone, the intelligent news anchor played by Christina Applegate, the film also tackled gender dynamics in the workplace in a tongue-in-cheek way that director Adam McKay has now made his M.O. You stay classy, Anchorman.
When they say “movie-wise, there has never been anything like The Apartment,” they really mean it. That’s because the Jack Lemmon vehicle directed by Billy Wilder went places that many movies of its time wouldn’t dream of going. The comedy combined sexual politics, corporate ladders and the American Dream, volleying between a droll insurance office and the titular Upper West Side apartment that C.C. Baxter loaned to his more senior co-workers for their extramarital affairs in the hopes of a promotion. No one has ever needed a union quite like Baxter.