If you've been in the workforce for any length of time, you've surely encountered at least one tyrannical, overbearing, micromanaging boss. Perhaps he or she is monitoring your surfing behavior right now and none too pleased that you are reading this article that mocks them on the company's time. Or maybe they are worried you might see Horrible Bosses in theaters this weekend, a movie in which three friends (Jason Bateman, Charlie Day and Jason Sudekis) conspire to murder their abusive bosses (Jennifer Aniston, Colin Farrell and Kevin Spacey).
Your bosses can demean you and take you for granted, but they can't stop you from renting a flick in which a control-freak executive gets his or her just dessert. Here are five horrible movie bosses that will make you want to throw in the towel and file for unemployment.
Dabney Coleman in 9 to 5: Coleman plays a "sexist, egotistical, lying, hypocritical bigot" boss who passes over women in the office for promotions and makes lecherous advances at his happily married secretary (Dolly Parton) in this classic 1980 comedy about women in the workforce. Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin team up with Parton and plot to overthrow Coleman, and the trio fantasizes about killing their corporate oppressor by spiking his coffee with poison. Watch to see what they get away with and listen to Parton's catchy theme song on DVD.
Sigourney Weaver in Working Girl: In many ways, Weaver's Oscar-nominated turn as the seemingly supportive and benevolent financial executive Katharine Parker is the scariest movie boss of all. At first she appears to take newbie Tess (Melanie Griffith) under her wing and encourages her to share her ideas. But when Tess is asked to house-sit for Katharine, Tess discovers evidence that her smiling boss is scheming to steal her idea and pass it off as her own. Tess tames her giant '80s hair and plans to go ahead with the merger in Katharine's absence—as well as engage in a personal merger with Katharine's beau (Harrison Ford)—in this boss-overthrowing classic that is available only on DVD.
Meryl Streep in The Devil Wears Prada: It's difficult enough trying to be a working journalist nowadays when everyone with a computer and a blog thinks he is a qualified writer, so imagine what it's like for recent Northwestern University graduate Andrea "Andy" Sachs (Anne Hathaway) who accepts a job as the junior personal assistant of the tyrannical Miranda Priestly (Streep), the editor-in-chief of Runway magazine. Andy has little interest in the superficial fashion world, but the aspiring journalist goes to ridiculous lengths to please her boss—even obtaining a yet-to-be published copy of the next Harry Potter book for Miranda's twin daughters—in order to win Miranda's favor and get a future job recommendation in this cautionary tale for journalism majors (i.e. pick another career while you still can) that is available on both DVD and Blu-ray.
Gary Cole in Office Space: If you want to wallow or commiserate in the hell that is the life of a typical American cubicle rat, revisit this hilarious 1999 comedy by Mike Judge that focuses on a disgruntled software programmer, Peter Gibbons (Ron Livingston), and his contentious relationship with smarmy Initech Division V.P. Bill Lumbergh (Cole). All the infuriating trappings of office life are touched on here, from the faux excitement for cake in the break room to cheesy chain lunch spots to having to having to account for every minute of your day in order to avoid the ax from corporate downsizing. Cole's condescending tone and passive-aggressive behavior pushes Peter and his IT pals to the brink of a Y2K meltdown in this take-this-job-and-shove-it fantasy that is available on both DVD and Blu-ray.
Kevin Spacey in Swimming with Sharks: Monsters like movie mogul Buddy Ackerman (Kevin Spacey) are as common as Botox in Hollywood, so it's somewhat surprising that naïve writers like Guy (Frank Whaley) still sign up to be their personal whipping boys in the hope of having some kind of Entourage moment of glory. Buddy sends Guy on ridiculous errands, publically humiliates him and treats him like a slave until Guy pulls a 9 to 5 and kidnaps his boss with the intent of enacting some kind of revenge. The most chilling suggestion of this 1994 dark comedy—available on DVD only—is that the beaten-down employee might claw his way up the corporate ladder and become exactly what he hates the most.