Are you looking for some smart entertainment over the holidays? Something to make you laugh while still honing your management chops? Well, you’ve come to the right place. Here are a few of my favorite, light-hearted business movies.
9 to 5 (1980) is a total classic, obviously, with a great cast and a great soundtrack. From a management perspective, it’s a window into the typing pool era, with its rampant sexism and low glass ceiling. When Judy, Violet and Doralee are forced to take action against their sleazy boss, they take the opportunity enact some much needed change in the office. Their use of colorful workspaces, flex hours, job sharing and on-site daycare prove these ladies were way ahead of their time.
When a Japanese company takes over an American auto plant in Gung Ho (1986) both cultures have to learn to adapt. This is an 80’s comedy, folks, so the cultural differences are played a bit over-the-top, but the film addresses the reality of Japan’s influence on the domestic automobile industry at the time.
A more recent cult classic, Office Space (1999) explores the depths to which a bad boss, clueless consultants and a temperamental fax machine can drag us. “The thing is, Bob, it’s not that I’m lazy, it’s that I just don’t care.” There is a management dissertation in that sentence alone.
If you’re looking for a series-binge, as I often am, Masterpiece Classic’s Mr. Selfridge (2013) is a good choice. I love my Edwardians, so I was into this one immediately. The series follows the adventures of American retail tycoon Harry Gordon Selfridge (played by Jeremy Piven) as he opens a one-of-a-kind department store in London in 1909. This period piece has the expected romantic dalliances and family melodrama but also offers an interesting look inside the beginnings of the modern department store. Selfridge’s marketing ideas and charismatic leadership are worth noting, as well as the burgeoning role of women in the workforce.
How about you? What’s your favorite management movie? I’d love to add it to my must-watch list.