I really want to see Green Zone. Not because I'm dying to see Matt Damon go all Jason Bourne on some WMDs (though I am), but because I have a huge soft spot for movies about employees who go off task. I'm not talking about the simple movies that feature employees having fun at work (here's looking at you, Empire Records), I'm talking about movies that feature employees going totally rogue, sticking it to the man and so forth.
Why do I love movies like this? I don't know, really. I've got no complaints about any of the jobs I've ever held, so it's not as though I have contempt for the workplace establishment. I've always had a great relationship with my bosses, so I'm not out to see the big man up top get shafted in the end. I guess I just like to see employees having fun, be it by shooting terrorists in the face or giving the metaphorical finger to their corporate overlords. Considering I could have filled this list 3 times over with the roster I jotted down, I'm not the only one. But these are indeed my favorite employee cutups.
1. Marko Ramius, The Hunt for the Red October
A career in the military is no different than a career spent in cubicle; you're still getting paid to do what the person above you asks you to. And there are few grander ways to disobey the higher ups than pulling a Marko Ramius and taking a Soviet submarine for your own personal joy ride. Okay, so it may not be all that joyous considering the Soviets are probably going to want their super secret, high-tech weapon of war back and the US are going to think your weapon of war is, well, a weapon of war, but, hey, it beats blindly towing the Communist party line, right?
2. Wikus Van de Merwe, District 9
Ah, Wikus, an inspiration to pencil pushers everywhere. He may have gotten the envious job of telling all those "Fookin' Prawns!" that they were being evicted from their shanty homes out of nepotism, but that didn't stop him from completely turning his back on the MNU corporation when things started to get a little too Cornenberg for his own tastes (not everyone is into body horror, I guess). Being mutated by alien technology might have its down side (Wikus definitely married up; I get why he's so sad he can't go back home), but man does it allow for a lot of fun on the job. Being the first human to shoot weapons from outer space? Killing the co-workers you've always secretly wanted to? Jumping around in a giant robot that can shoot rockets? I love my job, but I'd gladly let an Alien spray their superjuice in my face if I got to do all of that.
3. Terence McDonagh, The Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans
We can't all be good employees, now can we? Terence McDonagh is a despicable human being. There's nothing redeemable about him or his actions. That said, he sure knows how to keep getting a paycheck without ever doing a single thing his job actually requires him to do. He's like the asshole version of Office Space's Peter Gibbons.
Bonus, do you have a lucky crack pipe? Because Terence McDonagh does.
4. Peter Gibbons, Office Space
Speaking of Peter Gibbons, I almost thought about leaving him off this list as I felt he was too obvious a choice, but I just can't bring myself to do it. Peter's defiance of the working class culture is an inspiration to cube drones everywhere. You simply cannot work in an office building without hearing someone quote one of his (or his co-worker's) lines. For that alone he deserves a spot on this list, but my hat is even farther off considering his entire legacy was born entirely out of sheer laziness.
5. Garage Attendant and Attendant's Co-Pilot, Ferris Bueller's Day Off
The ultimate employees off task, in my book. This nameless duo knows never to turn their backs on a prime opportunity, so when Ferris Bueller rolls up to their parking garage in a Ferrari GT California, they know it's time to go for a joy ride. Now obviously I'm not advocating their theft (didn't Ferris essentially steal the car, anyway?), but they did actually make good on their promise to not damage the car. Plus, didn't their selfish actions end up turning Cameron Frye into a better man, anyway?
6. Sgt. Lee Soo-hyeok, Joint Security Area
It can't all be roses. Not every employee ends up having a great life because they've gone off task. Case-in-point Sgt. Lee Soo-Hyeok of Chan-wook Park's JSA. Poor guy is told his whole life to hate everyone in North Korea, but when he leaves his guard post one night and ends up having an encounter with the enemies' guards, it becomes both the best and worst thing to happen to him. (I'm such a sap for this movie.)
And speaking of being such a sap, how could I not include Wall*E in this list? Just picturing the little robotic guy zipping around a destitute earth making cubes out of trash puts a huge smile on my face. He spends a lifetime and beyond being a devoted worker without anyone to appreciate his hard effort, but even his little motherboard heart can't take the neglect forever. And when he finally stops obeying his programming, adventure begins and I'm turned into a pile of mush by a frakin' robot. Damn you, Wall*E!
[Runner up films: Minority Report, Moon, Star Trek (what's up, Sci-Fi?), Pulp Fiction, Raising Arizona, The Hudsucker Proxy, Grosse Pointe Blank, Pulp Fiction, The Dentist, Event Horizon, Observe and Report, Monsters Inc.]