LOS ANGELES (AP) — One’s an arrogant sadist. Another is a shameless sexual harasser. A third is just a narcissistic fool.
They’re the horrible bosses of “Horrible Bosses,” the latest in a long line of comedies about how badly work can suck.
Here’s a look at five of the funniest workplace comedies. Choosing them was a dirty job but someone’s gotta do it:
— “The Apartment” (1960): My favorite Billy Wilder movie, it won five Oscars including best picture and best director. Sure, it’s tinged with melancholy and longing, but the prevailing satire and absurdity provide consistent laughs, and the chemistry between Jack Lemmon and Shirley MacLaine is just irresistible. Lemmon plays a lowly office worker at a New York insurance company who hopes to climb the ladder by letting his superiors use his apartment for extramarital trysts. But he ends up falling for his boss’ mistress, played by an adorable MacLaine. This is one of those Wilder classics in which he hits the sweet spot — finds that difficult, poignant balance of humor and heart. And like his “Some Like It Hot,” it has one of the best last lines in movie history: “Shut up and deal.”
— “Office Space” (1999): It wasn’t exactly a huge hit when it came out. But like the Coen brothers’ “The Big Lebowski,” Mike Judge’s “Office Space” has gained a cult following over time through the magic of cable television. Now, you can mumble about your stapler or gush about the importance of wearing 37 pieces of flair and everyone will probably get the reference. Ron Livingston stars as a miserable drone at a generic tech company who gets stuck in a hypnotic state and ends up turning the place — and his whole life — upside down. It’s silly wish fulfillment, but Judge does hit his targets in depicting the dead-end monotony of cubicle life. And Gary Cole is wonderfully slimy as Livingston’s passive-aggressive dictator of a boss. Yeaaah ...
— “9 to 5” (1980): A lively, snappy revenge comedy that was rather groundbreaking in its day. Lily Tomlin, Jane Fonda and a charismatic Dolly Parton (in her film debut) bond and bounce off each other beautifully as three very different but equally frustrated employees of a soulless corporation. Dabney Coleman is perfectly sleazy as their boss, Franklin Hart, “a sexist, egotistical, lying, hypocritical bigot.” As in “Horrible Bosses,” the three women fantasize about killing Hart; instead, they kidnap him and turn the tables in clever and elaborate ways, and turn their office into a place anyone would be happy to walk into each day. Sure, it’s preposterous. But it was such a hit, it inspired a Broadway musical of the same name.
— “Clerks” (1994): Kevin Smith’s first film — the one that put him on the map as in indie favorite — remains one of his best. With its miniscule budget, stripped-down black-and-white aesthetic and brash dialogue, it established Smith’s distinctive, young voice. Nothing happens and everything happens all day as convenience-store employee Dante (Brian O’Halloran) and video-store clerk Randal (Jeff Anderson) mess with customers, complain about their jobs, trade pop-culture references and play hockey on the roof and talk. And talk, and talk, and talk. It’s funny and rude and profane, but for anyone who’s ever worked a minimum-wage job they hated, it can also feel all too real.
— “Caddyshack” (1980): This qualifies, right? They work, and it’s a comedy. Hey, we’ll find any opportunity we can to talk about “Caddyshack” around here; it set the standard for unabashedly juvenile ‘80s comedies. Harold Ramis’ directing debut is messy, but it’s got indelible characters and endlessly quotable dialogue. The caddies of “Caddyshack” are poor, bored and restless, sweating for tips from wealthy, eccentric snobs and squabbling amongst themselves. Rodney Dangerfield is at his crass, manic best, Chevy Chase is in his comfortable, charming zone and Bill Murray is a complete loon. Besides, no one makes movies anymore that have characters with names like Lacey Underall.
Think of any other examples? Share them with AP Movie Critic Christy Lemire through Twitter: http://twitter.com/christylemire.