Cookies help us deliver our Services. By using our Services, you agree to our use of cookies. Learn More.

The 10 Best Workplace Movies That Will Make You Miss Working In An Office

For most moviegoers, cinema is a form of escapism to take them out of their day-to-day lives and into more fantastical worlds. Armed with a bag of popcorn or candy, they get to watch superheroes save the planet, astronauts explore strange new worlds, or even talking animals put on a talent show. However, every so often, a movie comes out that seeks to capture an environment that may be more familiar to audiences. 

Workplaces have been a common setting for comedies and dramas of all different kinds. The genre has even expanded into animated features and science-fiction films that depict the juxtaposition of supernatural elements in dreary, everyday places like offices. While there are TV shows like "The Office" that show a realistic — albeit an occasionally exaggerated — version of what office life is like, movies about workplaces often combine the real and the surreal to excite audiences and provide a different experience. 

In their unique ways, these 10 movies show the realities of a work environment, both good and bad. While films are often filled with escapist narratives, these movies attempt to show the average person that there could be a blockbuster in even the most ordinary of lives and locations. Hopefully, after watching some of these movies, officer workers may see the value in their professions, no matter how corporate they may seem.  

1. The Intern

Nancy Meyers has directed many critically-acclaimed films showing the complexities of romantic relationships, such as "What Women Want" and "The Holiday." However, her 2015 film "The Intern" offers a different perspective, focusing instead on workplace friendships and their unique intricacies. The film follows Ben (Robert De Niro), a widower who is hired by a fashion startup company as a senior intern. With his meticulous approach to work and caring nature, he quickly forms a strong bond with his employer — the company's CEO Jules (Anne Hathaway). 

De Niro shines in this heartfelt comedy as the deeply committed intern, going to great lengths to make Hathaway's character happy. This is an all-too-relatable feeling for many interns and employees, who constantly strive to impress their tough-to-please bosses. Nevertheless, "The Intern" ends up being a heartwarming story about an intern who, against all odds, helps his employer relax. Most workers — and particularly interns — would hope to learn something from their bosses, but this film sees that idea reversed with the wisened Ben having plenty to impart to the over-worked Jules. 

While interns usually aren't privileged to have such close relationships with their employers, "The Intern" displays an idyllic version of an employer-employee dynamic. Though Jules is in charge, she relents to sage wisdom from the experienced-in-life Ben, turning her life around for the better — a working relationship that most people would envy.

2. Erin Brockovich

After a string of successful rom-coms in the '90s, Julia Roberts made huge waves in Hollywood with her Academy Award-winning performance in "Erin Brockovich." The film is based on a true story of a woman by the same name (via Vulture), who sued the Pacific Gas & Electric Company over their role in water contamination in Southern California. In the film, Roberts brings to life the hard-working mother of three who takes a job as a legal aide, quickly turning her fierce and confrontational personality towards the corrupt company. 

Roberts co-stars in the movie with Albert Finney, playing the lawyer who begrudgingly hires Erin after failing to win her case involving a traffic accident. His initial doubt in Erin's work is proven wrong when she begins to uncover the depths of PG&E's negligence towards the residents of Hinkley. The small investigation eventually turns into a class action lawsuit against the entire PG&E corporation — all helmed by one woman who was determined to do what's right and stand up for the families affected.

A film about the legal world might not sound like the most exciting subject matter, but Roberts makes it look thrilling and empowering. "Erin Brockovich" also examines how Erin's gender plays a significant role in her lack of support, giving her an even greater hurdle to overcome. It's an ultimately inspiring film for prospective lawyers and anyone who wants to succeed in their chosen fields, particularly women who may lack tenacious and determined role models like Erin.

3. 9 to 5

"9 to 5" is more than just a hit song by Dolly Parton about the strife of workers, with the Tennessee singer-songwriter also starring in a movie of the same name alongside acting legends Lily Tomlin and Jane Fonda. In the film, the trio play female co-workers at an office who become friends after bonding over their shared discrimination thanks to their boss, played by Dabney Coleman. Together, they plan to enact their fantasies of overthrowing him for this sexist behavior toward them. 

In their quest for revenge, the three women create quite a stir in the office, almost poisoning their boss and very nearly getting away with it. When they are discovered, their malicious Mr. Hart uses it as leverage to further take advantage of the women. Just as it seems they may never succeed, the trio persists and eventually gets the best of their cruel boss, who ends up being kidnapped in Brazil. Yes, it's a very weird movie, but one that has an important point to make amidst the hijinks. 

Where "9 to 5" thrives is in its portrayal of female friends in a workplace and in the way it shines a light on the disproportionate way women can be treated at work. The chemistry between the three leads is peak comedy, with Dolly Parton being particularly excellent in her first film role. With relevancy that is just as potent today as it was then, "9 to 5" is a battle cry for equality for women in the workplace.

4. The Devil Wears Prada

Few films depict the brutality of office life like "The Devil Wears Prada," another workplace movie starring Anne Hathaway. This time, it's the reverse of "The Intern," as Hathaway plays an unfashionable woman who gets a job as an assistant for the ruthless fashion magazine editor, played by Meryl Streep. Streep's role as Miranda Priestly is near-iconic now, with many people feeling the character echoes life's most cruel and hard-to-please employers (via The State Press). As the protagonist, Hathaway's Andy doesn't just roll over and accept Miranda's behavior and instead develops a resolute attitude that helps her make work bearable. 

Though she begins the film poorly dressed and disorganized, her determination to prove Miranda's initial skepticism was misplaced sees her become a fashionable model employee. Eventually, Andy's empathy towards Miranda is taken advantage of one too many times, and she leaves for a job at a different publishing company — utilizing the confidence and life lessons she learned from Miranda. Though Miranda never personally gives Andy the satisfaction of telling her she did a good job, it's clear to the audience that Andy doesn't need it.

While it is scathing of this particularly image-focused industry, "The Devil Wears Prada" is nevertheless an empowering movie for lowly office workers who often find themselves the subject of their bosses' ire. By the end of "The Devil Wears Prada," Andy becomes a more self-assured woman as a result of her difficult work with Miranda and finds a better job because of it — proof that good can come out of even the most challenging circumstances.   

5. Horrible Bosses

Sadly for Meryl Streep, Miranda Priestly looks like Snow White compared to the bosses in the 2011 comedy aptly titled "Horrible Bosses." The film stars a dynamite comedy trio consisting of Jason Bateman, Charlie Day, and Jason Sudeikis as employees who plot to kill each other's bosses — à la "Strangers on a Train" by Alfred Hitchcock. Their bosses are undeniably despicable: Kevin Spacey plays Bateman's sadistic finance boss, Jennifer Aniston plays Day's sexually-harassing dentist, and Colin Farrell plays the chemical company heir who dismantles Sudeikis' character's love for his job.

The film's premise is quite relatable, as at some point most office employees have dealt with difficult bosses or co-workers. "Horrible Bosses" imagines what would happen if employees took extreme measures, and given how things pan out, it would be wise to never even attempt similar actions. Showing the worst of the worst when it comes to bosses is surprisingly reassuring — as bad as yours might be, surely they can't be as bad as this. 

Fortunately, everything works out by the end of the film, with our protagonist trio successfully standing up to their bosses who rightfully receive their respective comeuppances. Taking a relatable concept and running with it until it becomes enjoyably outrageous and exaggerated, "Horrible Bosses" is a delightfully twisted revenge comedy that hits all the right notes.

6. Office Christmas Party

Employee relationships are a unique part of office environments. Oftentimes, people make casual friendships and acquaintances with their co-workers but rarely does it bloom into genuine friendship. That's why parties become ways for employees to bond and become like family, turning co-workers from acquaintances to lifelong friends. However, crossing those boundaries with colleagues at an office party can often result in a lot more chaos for employees — and this is what the events in "Office Christmas Party" eventually lead to.

Released in 2016, "Office Christmas Party" features a delightfully simple premise: Several co-workers organize the titular festive gathering of employees to convince a financier to support their tech company while facing layoffs. However, as the party gets going, things quickly get out of control, with the frivolity giving way to rioting when the employees find out their branch is being shut down. 

With an ensemble cast including Jason Bateman, Olivia Munn, Jennifer Aniston, and Kate McKinnon, "Office Christmas Party" is an enjoyably raucous holiday comedy. It also captures a type of friendship most office workers rarely find, mostly due to how outrageous the night of this particular party ends up becoming. Nevertheless, a movie like this could make those without this much excitement in their work lives wish to attend a Christmas party this insane — perhaps without some of the more extreme and dangerous elements.

7. Monsters Inc.

There aren't many animated films that depict the day-to-day life of office workers, however, Pixar's 2001 film "Monsters, Inc." is one of the exceptions. The film follows a cast of monsters who work at the titular company, which specializes in scaring children to power their city's energy. The movie gets a lot of mileage in its early moments by depicting how mundane and Kafkaesque this company is, with clearly defined roles amongst the monsters in this society — including scaring expert Sully (John Goodman) and his quick-witted assistant, Mike Wazowski (Billy Crystal). 

Things quickly go haywire for Sully and Mike's day-to-day routine when a human girl escapes through a door and into the world of Monstropolis. As they bond with the stowaway — and struggle to keep her hidden from a society that fears children — Mike and Sully eventually discover that laughter is more effective than screams for generating energy. By the end, these two workers have made big names for themselves in Monsters, Inc. with Mike becoming one of the company's top comedians, while Sully takes over as CEO. 

Despite the parodic take on office life seen in "Monsters, Inc.," it somehow makes even the most monotonous work activities seem appealing for kids. With its labyrinthine network of doors, the office environment itself is beautifully realized and it feels like a world that isn't too distant from our own. As well as a prequel-sequel, "Monsters, Inc." also inspired a Disney+ spin-off series called "Monsters at Work," which explores the next phase of the company's journey. 

8. Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy

While most workplace movies take place in offices with stereotypical cubicles and business meetings, "Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy" features a different type of workplace: the newsroom. The film centers on a San Diego news team in the late '70s, led by charismatic anchorman Ron Burgundy (Will Ferrell). Rounding out the rest of his team is weatherman Brick Tamland (Steve Carell), reporter Brian Fantana (Paul Rudd), and sports expert Champ Kind (David Koechner). 

Most of the film examines the brilliant chemistry between these four — who are not only colleagues but best friends, supporting each other through thick, thin, and violent brawls with fellow news teams. The film also examines the treatment of women in the workplace, as the main story focuses on the newest member of the team, Veronica Corningstone (Christina Applegate), who shakes up the group dynamics and becomes the object of Ron Burgundy's affection and jealousy. 

The heavily satirical film goes a long way to show how different workplaces are now than they were in the '70s. As depicted in "Anchorman," the central news team are chauvinist womanizers, and more often than not place their own public image above reporting the news. While viewers may not want to work in a newsroom in 1978, this film will hopefully give them some appreciation for their respective work environments and the colleagues who may or may not be willing to go into battle alongside them.

9. Everything Everywhere All At Once

Written and directed by Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert, "Everything Everywhere All at Once" follows a Chinese-American woman played by Michelle Yeoh who runs a laundromat with her husband, played by Ke Huy Quan. The family is in turmoil, with their business facing a rigorous audit from the IRS, Quan's character contemplating divorce, and their daughter (played by Stephanie Hsu), rebelling against her parents. 

While it initially plays out like a typical modern-day American drama, the movie quickly takes a big turn. While at the IRS, Yeoh's Evelyn discovers the existence of parallel universes when an alternate version of her husband "verse-jumps" into this universe's body. Evelyn quickly discovers that she is the only hope to save the multiverse from the destruction caused by an alternate version of Joy, their daughter. In one universe or another, most of this absurd sci-fi film takes place in a fairly nondescript IRS office — but you'll never have seen one like it before. 

"Everything Everywhere All At Once" received critical acclaim when it was released, with many praising Yeoh's performance and the return of Ke Huy Quan after his retirement in 2002. Despite all the multiverse-jumping and high-stakes sci-fi-meets-karate action, many viewers will be pleased to find that there's plenty of romance in doing laundry and filing taxes. Oftentimes, the more adventurous lives we could've led aren't as interesting as the boring, office-filled ones we currently do, and this film imagines what would happen if they collided in the most spectacular of ways.

10. Office Space

Few films capture the experience of working in an office like the 1999 comedy "Office Space." The film mostly centers on Peter (Ron Livingston), who is weary of his mundane job, annoying boss, and tiresome commute. After visiting a hypnotherapist, Peter has himself hypnotized into not caring about his job anymore and spends his days trying to be as disruptive as possible. In an oddly satisfying and iconic scene, Peter even smashes a printer with several of his co-workers.

Aside from Livingston's character, the movie also features several now-iconic recurring roles that also helped define what it felt like to work in an office in the late '90s. Stephen Root plays Milton, Peter's co-worker who is obsessed with finding his red stapler, and Gary Cole plays the meme-worthy Bill, the company's vice president who Peter hates. 

"Office Space" has remained an iconic comedy even 20 years after its debut. The Guardian even compared it to "The Matrix" and "Fight Club" — two other films of that era that examined the monotony behind the workforce, albeit in more action-packed interpretations. Nevertheless, some have criticized it in recent years for its characters seemingly being ungrateful for having a job, given that many people struggle to find work. Whichever way you look at it, "Office Space" remains all the more relevant in the topic of workplace movies, changing the way many people viewed work and cementing its status as a cult classic (via BBC).