Movies entertain us. Movies captivate us. Movies appeal to us. But, most of all, movies inspire us. Rocky inspired us to fight for our dreams (and to take the stairs instead of the elevator). Glory inspired us to fight for what’s right. The Diary of Anne Frank inspired us to fight for humanity. ET inspired us to believe beyond what we can see. And, Shawshank Redemption, of course, inspired us to escape from prison.
Then there are business movies. These movies may bore some of us (those of us who don’t even like to work much less use it as a form of entertainment), but others find these the most inspiring of films. This article lists the best movies for people who believe that business is always a worthy production.
Boiler Room: A view into the underworld of sketchy brokerage forms, Boiler Room features a college student drop-out used to being on the brink of seediness. After running an illegal casino, he is hired by JT Marlin, a firm that creates a false demand by skyrocketing the price of shares for companies that don’t exist.. The main character Seth, played by Giovanni Ribisi, is placed in the middle when the FBI uses his father, a judge, against him. Seth is then forced to work with the FBI to uncover the fallacy employing him.
The characters in the story aren’t noble or moral – as their main goal is to scam people out of money – but, from a business perspective, they are good at wheeling and dealing. The monologues in the conference room and the scenes where they sell can surely inspire just about any businessman or women, particularly salespeople; it can inspire them not only to excel at their art, but to leave companies like JT Marlin for the fishes.
Working Girl: Nominated for an Academy Award for Best Picture and recipient of one for Best Song, Working Girl tells the tale of a likeable but unconfident secretary named Tess McGill, played by Melanie Griffith, working for Katharine Parker, a rude, condescending boss, played by Sigourney Weaver. When Katharine breaks her leg, Tess assumes her identity. Not only is she competent at Katharine’s job, but she is better at it than her employer. A movie where it is beyond easy to root for the underdog, this film’s marketing contained the tagline, “For anyone who’s ever won. For anyone who’s ever lost. And for everyone who’s still in there trying.” Really, who among us can’t relate to that?
Jerry Maguire: Admit it, this movie had you at hello. One of Tom Cruise’s last great films before aliens took control of his mind, Jerry Maguire features Tom as, well, Jerry Maguire, a sports agent with a conscience. After his firm dumps him (“who’s coming with me?”) he finds himself with one lone client, Rod Tidwell, played by a scene-stealing Cuba Gooding, Jr.
Many people found this movie appealing because of the romantic subplot (not to mention an adorable little boy), but from a business perspective, it was also wonderful, displaying both the greed of an industry and the heart of those aiming to make it right. “The Show Me the Money,” phrase helped cement this moving into cinematic history as it is remembered as one of the greatest quotes of all time.
Glengarry Glen Ross: Based on the 1984 Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award winning play, Glengarry Glen Ross shows 48 hours in the lives of four real estate agents who are drowning in desperation. Filled with a cast of A Plus-listers, this movie stars Jack Lemmon, Al Pacino, Ed Harris, Alan Arkin, Kevin Spacey, Alec Baldwin and Jonathan Pryce. Diving into the evils of greed and the acts people will perform when hopelessness ensues, this film depicts lies, bribes, threats, thievery, and a whole lot of cussing. The title is generated from two properties discussed in the movie, the Glengarry Highlands and the Glen Ross Farms. This movie not only shows how easily the tide of business can turn, but it also shows how easy the tide can spin out of control, drowning those who fall beneath it.
Wall Street: With a self explanatory title, this movie features Bud Fox, played by a young Charlie Sheen, as a go-getter hell bent on rising to the top. He plans to get there by associating himself with corporate big wig Gordon Gekko, played by Michael Douglas.. Bud soon learns that the secret to Gordon’s success is – say it with me Martha Stewart – insider trading. He first isn’t really turned off by this, as he quickly grows rich and famous, but when Gordon decides to do a corporate raid on the company of Bud’s father, mixed emotions surface. Bud decides, in the end, to use the values his hardworking, blue collar father taught him. Though he gets indicted, it also appears that Gordon is going down with him. However, the fate of Gordon, in the end, is left up to the imagination.
Some business movies are bad, some are good, and some hit the nail right on the head (Office Space, anyone?). As with any topic, business movies can be poor, wonderful, or somewhere in between. In the end, they are unique cinematic features, if for no other reason than to remind us that there is no business like show business. At least no business I know.