Movie Mom

Movie Mom


The Worst Movie Bosses

posted by Nell Minow

This week’s release of “Horrible Bosses” made me think of some of the other terrible bosses in movies.  Here are some of the bosses we love to hate on screen.  Who am I leaving out?  And which movie boss is most like your all-time worst boss?

The all-time bad movie boss champ has to be Kevin Spacey, who adds to his list by appearing in “Horrible Bosses” as a cruel, manipulative, and paranoid company president.  I’m going to limit him to two on this list, but could choose others as well.

1.  Kevin Spacey in Glengarry Glen Ross There’s no meaner workplace in cinema history than this brutal and back-stabbing real estate company.  Spacey’s electrifying performance shows that his self-loathing is only exceeded by his contempt for everyone around him.  (Special credit to Alec Baldwin for a stunning turn as a guy from the home office brought in to give a pep talk:  “Second prize is a set of steak knives. Third prize is you’re fired.”)

2. Kevin Spacey in Swimming With Sharks Reportedly, this screenplay was inspired by the author’s own experience.  The assistant in the story gets his revenge on his sadistic bully of boss by torturing him, but in real life he just put his most appalling behavior up on screen.

3.  Gary Cole in Office Space He doesn’t yell.  He does not insult his staff.  He is just massively inconsiderate, making inane and dehumanizing and agonizingly insincere “requests.”  I don’t know which is worse — the cover on the TPS reports or Hawaiian Shirt Day.  (Special credit to screenwriter Mike Judge, the movie’s screenwriter, as Jennifer Aniston’s boss at Chotchkie’s, who tells her she should have more than the minimum flair.)

YouTube Preview Image

4. Sandra Bullock in The Proposal Everyone is terrified of this greyhound-slim and rattlesnake-mean editor, who can make the slightest error into a career-killer.

5.  Fred MacMurray in The Apartment Jack Lemmon discovers that the only way to get ahead in this enormous insurance company is to let the boss use your apartment for his assignations.

6. Sigourney Weaver in Working Girl She pretends to support her assistant’s dreams for advancement, but instead, she steals her ideas.  I love her line about why she is sure her boyfriend (Harrison Ford in a magnificent performance) will propose: “We’re in the same city now, I’ve indicated that I’m receptive to an offer, I’ve cleared the month of June… and I am, after all, me.”

7. Dabney Coleman in 9 to 5 Based on interviews with many working women, Coleman’s character was designed to exemplify just about every awful characteristic: lazy, sexist, dishonest, incompetent, and predatory.

8. Alistair Sim in A Christmas Carol Until he learns a lesson from the three Christmas ghosts, Scrooge is a demanding, nasty, and of course very cheap boss who keeps poor Bob Cratchit underpaid and shivering in the cold.

9. Charles Laughton in Mutiny on the Bounty Based on a real-life story, Laughton plays Captain Bligh, whose cruel treatment of his men led to a mutiny, putting him off the ship in a launch.  (The real-life Bligh was exonerated after making it back to England in what is still an un-matched feat of navigational skill.)

YouTube Preview Image

10. Denzel Washington in Training Day Ethan Hawke plays a young police officer assigned to work with Washington’s character, a corrupt narcotics detective who manipulates and blackmails him, drawing him into a quagmire of corruption.  Washington won an Oscar for his dazzling performance of a man who loves control but is losing his capacity to maintain it.

Dishonorable mention: Paul Giamatti as Howard Stern’s boss in “Private Parts,” Meryl Streep in “The Devil Wears Prada,” Laura Linney in “The Nanny Diaries,” and Tom Cruise in “Tropic Thunder”

Many thanks to David Apatoff and Christopher Orr for sharing their suggestions.



Previous Posts

Two Nights Only in Theaters: 60th Anniversary of "White Christmas"
The 60th anniversary of one of the most beloved movies in history is coming up, and so you will have a chance to see "White Christmas" in theaters for just two nights, December 14-15, 2014. This is you

posted 8:00:13am Nov. 28, 2014 | read full post »

Johnny Cash's Thanksgiving Song
[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CuaC6h_4AB8[/youtube]

posted 12:00:11pm Nov. 27, 2014 | read full post »

Happy Thanksgiving 2014!
[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7NSQLMPUK-8[/youtube] All my best wishes for a wonderful Thanksgiving to all, and please know how thankful I am for the time you spend here.

posted 7:00:00am Nov. 27, 2014 | read full post »

Claire LaZebnik's Thoughts on Thanks
I can't think of a better way to start Thanksgiving weekend than taking a few minutes to read my friend Claire LaZebnik's wise and inspiring essay on gratitude. This most American of holidays is often accompanied by stress -- from hosting and being hosted, from traveling, from family. Claire write

posted 9:39:41am Nov. 26, 2014 | read full post »

Horrible Bosses 2
Maybe it's just the proximity to the horrible "Dumb and Dumber To," but the cheerily offensive "Horrible Bosses 2" made me laugh. Full warning -- it begins with an elaborate sight gag as our hapless he

posted 5:58:28pm Nov. 25, 2014 | read full post »




Report as Inappropriate

You are reporting this content because it violates the Terms of Service.

All reported content is logged for investigation.