In the United States, the first Monday in September is called Labor Day and it marks the unofficial end of summer. While autumn doesn’t technically begin until September 22, according to the Almanac, businesses generally start implementing operations for the fall around this time every year.
But aside from ostensibly being the end of summer for Americans, it’s also a celebration of the American labor movement. Labor Day is meant to honor the workers of the past and present who have fought to make labor laws in the United States as fair as possible for everyone. While many Americans are far from working their dream job, there’s a lot to be said for standards within the workplace as compared to how things used to be in the U.S.
There’s also a lot to appreciate for Americans when comparing U.S. working conditions with the present work conditions of other countries around the world.
While many will be working their regular schedules on Labor Day, a great many others will have the day off to spend with their families, have cookouts, enjoy vacations, or maybe to just watch a few good movies and enjoy some peace of mind.
Here’s a list of five movies that have a lot to say about the American workplace and its workers.
5. Glengary Glen Ross
This movie features Jack Lemmon and Ed Harris as they struggle to meet a deadline which could potentially spell the end of their careers, if they’re not hitting the highest numbers within the real estate company they work for by the end of the week. Alec Baldwin also makes an appearance in this movie giving one of the most powerful monologues of his entire career. It’s the be-all-end-all of speeches no one ever wants to hear in the workplace. He delivers his foreboding words with a coldness still resonating with movie audiences nearly 30 years later.
4. Empire Records
It bombed at the box office and critics slept on it, but this ’90s comedy starring Liv Tyler and Renee Zellweger early into their careers is a movie that later landed a cult following among movie fans. Empire Records carries a lot of laughter while simultaneously carrying a lot of emotion. Dave Brockie, better known as Oderus Urungus of Gwar makes a hilarious cameo, feeding a young Ethan Embry to a monster, and no one can forget the extra-cheesy character of Rex Manning. Empire Records also tells the story of how a group of people can truly love where they work and the movie comments on the value of fighting for such a place.
3. Tommy Boy
It’s considered the definitive movie role for the late Chris Farley as he stars alongside David Spade. The two hit the road in hopes of saving the company of Tommy’s father and the jobs of everyone within the company. Filled with side-splitting laughter, including an incident involving a not-so-dead deer and a question about eating paint chips, the movie’s comedy peaks when Chris Farley delivers an iconic performance in the office of a potential client. As the character of Tommy explains the difference between choosing Callahan brake pads and brake pads from the “other guy,” things get a little nuts, in one of the funniest moments in movie history.
2. The Social Network
For those who have dreams of creating their own company from the ground up, The Social Network is a fantastic movie that delivers the truth about both the triumph of the American entrepreneur and the associated risks with taking on such a venture. Directed by David Fincher, the depiction of Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg shows how much the business genius stood to gain by creating the social media platform, while also showing all that he had to lose. Touting an Oscar-winning score by Nine Inch Nails frontman Trent Reznor, The Social Network is one of the more somber entries to this list.
1. Office Space
When it comes to workplace comedy, this one is really king of the mountain. Office Space features Ron Livingston in the role of Peter Gibbons as he decides he’s no longer taking anymore of the arbitrary ridiculousness so present in the everyday office working environment. Mike Judge’s masterpiece, Office Space, is an exercise in catharsis for anyone who has ever worked in an office environment and contains an unlikely soundtrack consisting of mostly gangster rap songs. Music from the Geto Boys and solo tracks from an original member of the group, Scarface, make this movie really stand out against other workplace comedies.