[Editor’s Note: This post is presented in partnership with Time Warner Cable Movies On Demand in support of Indie Film Month. Today’s pick, “Dirty Weekend” is available now On Demand. Need help finding a movie to watch? Let TWC find the best fit for your mood here.]
Alice Eve and Matthew Broderick strike up a layered friendship while on a layover in Albuquerque, New Mexico in Neil LaBute’s latest drama “Dirty Weekend,” but it’s certainly not the first time a movie twosome have formed a strong bond while on the job. In honor of the film hitting On Demand, Indiewire picks some of the greatest workplace friendships in movie history.
“9 to 5” (1980)
Workplace friendships don’t get more perfect than the one between Jane Fonda, Lily Tomlin and Dolly Parton in Colin Higgins’ classic comedy satire “9 to 5.” Underpaid, undervalued and unappreciated, this triumvirate of female power exacts revenge against their “sexist, egotistical, lying, hypocritical bigot” boss, taking down the confines of the masculine workforce in the process and speaking directly for generations of women who have long wanted to do the same. Come for the hilarious hijinks — each character has her own elaborate scheme for taking down the big man — but stay for the infectious chemistry between the three leads, whose friendship is sparked over smoking a joint and never falters in their quest for job equality.
Shot in black and white and for less than $30,000, Kevin Smith’s breakout comedy is one of the classic staples of the 1990s American independent film movement. While its cultural status in relationship to its dirt cheap production is something of a miracle, it’s precisely its scrappy, blue collar charm that finds its way into its central relationships and makes the experience so humorously relatable. Like every person who has ever worked a dead end, small-town job — which, let’s face it, is every single one of us — Dante Hicks (Brian O’Halloran) and Randal Graves (Jeff Anderson) find hope in their workplace purgatory by viewing the world through the same slacker prism, where even the most trivial tasks (rooftop hockey) or conversations (mostly about “Star Wars”) become colossally important. At the end of the day, the only thing that makes the soulless work day easier is the vibe of friendship, and for that “Clerks” will always be a lynchpin of work movies.
“The Double” (2013)
When “workplace friendship” turns to “workplace light-stalking,” something is bound to happen. For Simon James (Jesse Eisenberg) in “The Double,” that “something” means accidentally manifesting your very own doppelganger. Richard Ayoade’s wonderfully weird 2013 Dostoyevsky adaptation spends much of its time in an office that far more resembles the bellows of a ship than a place of work. There, Simon wiles the days away fixated on Hannah (Mia Wasikowska), who he sighs at from the copy room and spies on through telescopes. When his suave double begins to upstage him at the same office, Simon is forced to put everything on the line in order to protect his office paramour, coming alive in the process. Even after the harrowing end, Simon’s affection for Hannah still serves as an apt example of the kinds of friendships that make you a better person, even while you’re working on something else.
“Office Space” (1999)
Everyone who’s ever spent their workday staring at a computer rather than working on one: This one’s for you. Peter Gibbons (Ron Livingston) is an IT worker who spends most of his days dangerously bored and mistreated by much of the office staff around him, except for two fellow office misfits who commiserate to soften the blow of their mind numbing and often demoralizing job. When Peter finds out that his friends’ termination is iminent, the gang bands together to rip off the company on their way out. Written and directed by Mike Judge, whose HBO series “Silicon Valley” unites a similar band of weirdos, “Office Space” has the kind of workplace friends who you’d want to smash a printer in a field with. And that’s saying something.
“The Player” (1992)
“Up in the Air” (2009)
Much of the emotional backbone to Jason Reitman’s acclaimed Best Picture nominee “Up in the Air” is provided by the budding friendship between Ryan Bingham (George Clooney) and Natalie Keener (Anna Kendrick in her breakout role). Bingham makes his living by traveling to workplaces to lay off employees for companies unwilling to do so themselves, though that could soon change as newbie Keener enters the fold to promote video conference system that would help the company save cash by laying workers off from a remote location. Over the course of the film, the initial animosity and sparring viewpoints shared between the two transform into hard emotional truths that could only be realized by with the help of the other. As Ryan learns to be more accepting of relationships that need him, Natalie discovers that personal connection is deeper than anything technological could make easier. Equal parts snappy, spunky and heartbreaking, this is one workplace friendship that continues to resonate.
“Working Girl” (1988)
Mike Nicols’ eighties-tastic workplace dramedy, “Working Girl,” is usually best remembered for its fraught professional politics and ever-so-forbidden romance, but the 1988 feature also boasts a very touching (and very relatable) friendship at its heart. While the film is mostly preoccupied with charting the meteoric rise of plucky Tess McGill (Melanie Griffith) in the business world, close attention is continually paid to her best pal (and fellow secretary) Cyn, played by Joan Cusack. As Tess unexpectedly pushes her way to the top (and maybe changes in the process, and not always for the better), Cyn stays firmly in her corner, trusting that her closest friend will eventually come around and earn the success she’s always deserved. By the film’s end, no one is more excited about Tess’ new life than faithful Cyn.
READ MORE: Watch: Matthew Broderick and Alice Eve Have a ‘Dirty Weekend’ in Tribeca Trailer