30 Movies Featuring the Workplace, In Honor of Labor Day Weekend
Movie #4: Let’s Go to the Mall – Observe & Report
Year – 2009
Seth Rogen plays Ronnie Barnhardt, head of security for the Forest Ridge Mall. He rules the mall with an iron fist but is viewed as a joke by the other mall employees. He dreams of being a cop yet hates them for being what he’s not.
Observe & Report is a dark comedy. And don’t mistake “dark” to mean merely “raunchy”. Even if you weren’t offended by Superbad or Knocked Up you still might find this movie quite off-putting. It’s similar in tone to HBO’s Eastbound & Down, which, not coincidentally, was created and written by Jody Hill, the director of this film.
Much of what happens in the last half of the film occurs after Ronnie (who is bi-polar) stops taking his medication which adds a wrinkle in terms of just how much of this we’re supposed to/allowed to find funny. The film contains graphic nudity, drug use (and by “drug use” we’re talking way more than your standard pot smoking) and our “hero” engaging in something that comes dangerously close to date rape. Yet Rogen’s performance somehow allows us to root for Ronnie through all of this. He imbues his character with a sense of vulnerability and hopefulness, even if much of his hopefulness seems misguided. However the laughs are never directed at Ronnie but instead at the awkward situations he creates and/or finds himself in; a thin (and admittedly highly subjective) line to walk. The movie can be highly polarizing. It’s an unsettling but funny film that was mis-marketed as a “wacky” comedy. – TOK
Movie #5: Video Games Become Video Work – Wreck-It Ralph
Year – 2012
Ralph, voiced by John C. Reilly, is an 8-bit character in a retro video game who aspires to be more than just the bad guy and decides to do something about it. It was Walt Disney Animation Studios – not Pixar – that released Wreck-It Ralph, making it the 52nd animated feature for the studio, marking a very calculated move by the Mouse House away from its more traditional fare. Sort of a videogame mash-up in the tradition of Who Framed Roger Rabbit, the movie had been in development at Disney since the late 1980s. – DG
Movie #6: The Internet Age – The Social Network
Year – 2010
Sure, you waste time at work on Facebook. But for some people, Facebook is there actual job. Jesse Eisenberg is brilliant as Mark Zuckerberg, the disputed creator of Facebook. But don’t let the subject matter fool you. While the technology is new, the story is as old as time – love, loyalty, betrayal.
Since 1983’s War Games, Hollywood has a long and rich history of making movies that revolve around the internet and general all-around computer hackery. Sadly most of these films had little actual knowledge of the technology they purport to regale us with and would rapidly devolve into extended scenes of people spouting techno-babble while typing. Director David Fincher and writer Aaron Sorkin have combined to give us a film that masterfully navigates this minefield. Sorkin’s script is sharp, informative and positively crackles with excitement. Even as his characters bombard us with both exposition AND technological tutorials he manages to inject scenes with wit and verve. And while there has been (and will be) much debate over the origins of Facebook, Sorkin goes to great pains to present us with truth. Not “the truth” mind you, but “truth.” As the screenplay toggles back-and-forth between various competing perspectives, Sorkin uses the literary device of “unreliable narrators” to great effect; creating a story with much conflict but no real villain. Much like life, each character is the hero of his own of his story.
Meanwhile Fincher (with a nice assist from the score provided by Trent Reznor) keeps the film visually stimulating. The three come together to do what no filmmakers before them have achieved – they make typing interesting. Which is more of a backhanded compliment than it’s intended to be. Fincher has given us a film devoid of traditional action but still comes at you like a shot of adrenaline. – TOK