Maybe you’ve just been fired and you’re looking for a movie to watch, a movie that might inspire you to reach for your dreams or something you can watch while you cry. Maybe it’s like they say, misery loves company, so you might as well watch others get fired too. Or maybe you’re just a sadist. You’ve got a lovely gig and you’re secure at the company you’re with. Everything looks wonderful, so why not sit down with a glass of expensive wine and watch a movie about some schmuck stranger being fired? You can laugh at their misfortune so you do.
But movies about people being fired aren’t always depressing. Yeah, some of them are; some are really dark. But many of them are uplifting, inspirational and rejuvenating. For a screenwriter, having a character fired often leads to some sort of self-reflection and self-realization. It’s a quick and easy way to create a fish out of water scenario or to setup a story of self-discovery. If you’ve just been fired, these are probably the types of movies that you would want to see and hear. Life isn’t over, far from it really. Life’s still waiting for you out there and getting fired might be just the motivation you needed to start living it. This is when movies are at their best, when their events on the screen coincide with moments in your life, when you can exist alongside them and directly draw from the lessons they impart. Let’s go find you something to draw from. Let’s get fired up. Here are the 15 best movies about getting fired.
It’s a sad story, but it still makes you feel good at the end of the day. Plus, who doesn’t cheer when someone gets to stick it to the man? If you haven’t had the chance to watch the film, don’t worry. We’ll describe it for you. So, we have Tom Hanks playing a man who works at a big law firm. He’s gay and he has AIDS. One day, someone at the firm notices that he has lesions on his skin. He tries to hide it, but it appears that the secret gets out that he’s sick. Then there’s a kerfuffle that has to do with some missing papers. The papers were accounted for, so it looks like the company is intentionally trying to get Tommy boy fired, which works by the way. Hanks is fired. So now he’s got to hire a lawyer to ensure that he gets a proper package for being fired unjustly. In comes Denzel Washington, and the two set out right some wrongs. It’s sad and it’s happy and it’s everything in between. Maybe you won’t be taking your old company to court like Hanks does, but you can live vicariously through him while he does.
14. Mr. Mom
All’s well that ends well is what someone said once, and that’s why anyone who’s been fired would want to watch Mr. Mom. After Michael Keaton is fired from his engineering job, he is forced to play housewife, while his wife (Terri Garr) returns to work to make a living for their family. Soon into his new position, Keaton becomes consumed by the domestic life and realizes how much of a struggle it is. Half a story about learning to respect the domestic duties of a stay-at-home mom and half about learning to trust and be honest within a marriage, Mr. Mom teaches all the right lessons for the 80s, which are also very out-dated lessons for today’s viewers, but it’s amazing nonetheless. In the end, Keaton and Garr need to resolve their insecurities if they’re going to make their restructured life work. It’s not a terribly serious film, so have some fun and give it a go.
13. Burn After Reading
Quitting and getting fired are sometimes very close to the same thing and that’s the type of situation that Burn After Reading deals with. Osbourne Cox (John Malkovich) is dramatically demoted in his job as a CIA analyst. Instead of accepting it quietly, he decides to quit and focus on writing his personal memoirs about his life. When the CD containing his writings is misplaced, it finds itself in the hands of some bumbling would be blackmailers (Frances McDormand and Brad Pitt). Since these two goofs believe their in the possession of state secrets, they attempt to sell the memoirs back to Malkovich, but he knows that they have nothing of value in them, so he declines. Then the Russians get involved. As a simple misunderstanding evolves into pure chaos, the CIA get involved to see if the situation is more serious than the stupidity it appears to be. It may not have a whole lot to do with being fired, but it does entertain the same themes, and it’s a hell of a lot of fun.
12. Fight Club
In the grand scheme of things, the firing scene in Fight Club is tiny. The narrator (Edward Norton) is involved with a fight club, so he shows up to work late, distracted and beat up. Before he can be fired, the narrator attempts to blackmail the boss, threatening to expose the dark secrets of the company unless he’s paid off. When refused, he beats himself up to make it look like the boss assaulted him. You may not want to try this type of thing in real life, but overall, there are themes of being freed from your work throughout. This might make you feel a little better about your own situation. The entire movie is about breaking down the order and rising up above it all. You might not get any real-world ideas about what to do next in your own life (please don’t take any lessons), but you can certainly get out some anger simply by watching the flick. It might just make you feel more empowered in a very difficult time.
Anyone who’s ever experienced a company or an industry going through changes can appreciate the story hidden behind the humor in Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy. As famous news anchor Ron Burgundy (Will Ferrell) is confronted with new additions to his news team and a new direction for his station, he needs to adapt or leave. It’s a tale of love and companionship, competition and jealousy, but, most of all, it’s straight up hilarity. Packed with an all-star cast, Anchorman is old enough now that some younger movie fans might have missed it, and that’s a crime. Easily one of the most quotable movies in memory, Anchorman actually has a message deep down there, one that viewers who have recently experienced their own dramatic changes in their careers will surely appreciate.
10. Up in the Air
Up in the Air is the story of Ryan (George Clooney) who is a professional firer, so to speak. He travels around the world helping companies lay off their employees. He gives each of them a wonderful spiel about themselves reinventing and reigniting their zest for life, but it seems like he has lost sight of his own. As a new employee (Anna Kendrick) comes in to change the in-person layoffs to teleconference layoffs in order to cut costs, Ryan must show her that the process needs to be personal because of how impactful losing one’s jobs is on that person’s life. It’s a perfect movie about being fired because it shows the many different sides of the process. The pain, the shock, the heartache, the business side, the human side and the benefits of being free are all part of Up in the Air.
Both a movie about having no one believe in you and being fired and a movie about new beginnings, Ghostbusters is also about ghosts, and it’s funny, so it’s got a bit of everything. You could watch the new 2016 remake as well, but the original is better, so you may want to stick to the tried and true version. In the flick, the guys are first let go from their universities because of a lack of funding and trust in their research, and then, after they set up their new business, they’re shut down and arrested for operating illegal waste handlers. They basically get fired twice. With them out of the picture, the ghosts are released and wreak havoc on the city, and the only ones who can save the day is the boys in the packs. It’s a story that will make you feel wanted, assuming you feel like your job is as important as the Ghostbusters, but it’ll help inspire you to follow your dreams.
8. In Good Company
In Good Company is a film about corporate restructuring and new bosses. When the magazine that Dan (Dennis Quaid) works for is sold to a major global company, a new, young boss, Carter (Topher Grace) comes in to shake things up. The company asks Dan to let go of many of his long-time employees and start changing the fundamental way they do business. Dan tries to react and adapt while dealing with his own complicated at-home issues. Eventually, things between the two men, Dan and Carter, become more complicated when they actually begin to like each other (and each other’s family members) but, again, tough business decisions come between them. You may feel like you’ve seen this film before because it plays with a lot of the same issues as many other movies, but it’s still decent, especially if you’ve just been fired.
7. American Beauty
When Lester Burnham (Kevin Spacey) begins to go through a mid-life crisis and develops a creepy infatuation with a teenage girl, he is laid off from his job as well. Rather than go out and get a comparable job, Lester just grabs a job in a fast-food joint. Less responsibility and less worry. It might not be a movie that offers the best advice for a viewer going through a similar experience in their lives, but there’s a lot to like here. It’s a strange movie that hasn’t aged particularly well, but it still has a power about it and anyone going through massive changes in their lives might find something to relate to. Hopefully it’s not the creepy obsession.
6. Leaving Las Vegas
Warning: this is a film that you watch if you need someone else’s misery to make yours pale in comparison. It’s not uplifting and it’s not inspiring. It’s about a guy (Nicolas Cage) who is fired from his job and wishes to drink himself to death. He travels to Las Vegas to do it in style under the bright lights and there he meets a prostitute (Elisabeth Shue). They form an agreement to hang out with each other but never judge the other one’s choices, an agreement that they both obviously break. Both end up getting screwed by their occupations in the end, both literally and figuratively. It’s a dark film, but, if you’re in a dark place, you’ll find plenty of comfort down here.
5. Company Men
Company Men follows the lives of the men and women involved in the fallout of a big company during a massive downsizing. Ben Affleck is the first let go from his huge cushy job and gigantic salary, and his life is changed dramatically as he is forced to move his family out of their mansion and into his parents’ home, taking a job with his brother in manual labor. Another employee, Tommy Lee Jones, loses his job but makes out like a bandit because of the company’s increasing stock, of which he holds a good portion. Overall, the film looks at the difficulties and the opportunities that these types of situations hold for the different people involved. It might not be the greatest film you’ll watch, but it has a nice philosophy and a good feel to it, something you may need.
4. ¡Three Amigos!
¡Three Amigos! is a hilarious little movie starring Steve Martin, Chevy Chase and Martin Short, as three silent film movie stars who are fired and evicted from their studio homes. Coincidentally, they also receive a telegram from a woman whose village in Mexico is being terrorized by a band of thugs. She reached out to the film stars because she believes them to be real heroes. They accept the request because they believe that the opportunity is a paid acting gig. The shenanigans just get worse from there. Perhaps you want to feel like your skills might offer you the chance to become a hero like this or maybe you just need a laugh, either way, check out ¡Three Amigos! if you haven’t seen it before.
3. Falling Down
Starring Michael Douglas, Falling Down is the story of a man who loses everything, including his job. As he tries to make his way to his daughter’s birthday party, he gets more and more agitated by society and the people around him. His reactions intensify and escalate into a full on meltdown. Maybe if you’re looking for a cathartic movie that lets someone else act out the way you feel like acting yourself, this is the movie for you. It’s a pretty intense reaction to losing your job, but there’s more to it than that for Douglas’ character. It’s also a great character study which might help you realize that there’s more to life than work. Then again, it might do the opposite.
2. Jerry Maguire
The ultimate film about a man who wants to do something differently in his place of work, something better, and is fired for it. When this happens to Jerry Maguire (Tom Cruise), fired for wanting to put the client first, he decides to start up his own thing, a sports agent firm in this case. He set out to build a new clientele, competing with his old company. The movie is perfect motivation for people who use being fired as a reason to go out on their own, a very common theme for entrepreneurs. It’s sweet and uplifting and there’s a quality love story in it too, if that’s your cup of tea.
1. Office Space
If you’ve ever had the pleasure (or displeasure) of working in a corporate office, Office Space is the truest story you’ll ever watch. The film features a company going through downsizing and outsourcing of work and how everything is handled internally. As more and more employees are let go, a few of them decide to get even by creating a plan that will divert company money to their own bank accounts. Things don’t go as planned and they end up taking much more than anticipated and have to figure out a way to fix the issue before they are caught. It’s a beautiful film for any occasion really, but it’s just perfect for those who have been screwed by their employer.
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