Hate your boss? You might want to check these 10 out and thank your lucky stars!
We’ve all had them at some point in our working life. Some of us are still unfortunate enough to have them. Most of us, however, aren’t fortunate enough to live our lives with horrible bosses as a comedy movie! But to celebrate the release of black comedy Horrible Bosses (rather aptly named!), WhatCulture! were challenged with chronicling the 10 worst bosses to ever grace the big screen.
Here’s what we came up with;
10. Margaret Tate (Sandra Bullock) – THE PROPOSAL (2009)
If there’s one thing you wouldn’t want an insensitive, anally retentive boss to do, it’s become your wife! Well that’s what Andrew Paxton (Ryan Reynolds), the quiet and hardworking assistant of the maniacal Margaret Tate finds himself forced to say he’s doing. Whilst many of us have probably had to take work home with us, I’m guessing only a handful have had it accompanied by the boss!
As Margaret meets Andrew’s family, she has to learn to leave behind the hard-nosed, ice queen business bitch persona, in doing so becoming a much better person and a more successful boss. Had it not been for the redemptive conclusion, Tate would have been much higher up the list for how irritating she is alone!
Sandra Bullock plays the role with gusto, but it’s quite hard to take seriously as a career bitch, after playing hordes of dorky romantic comedy leads. However, she makes the list for being one of the most annoying bosses to ever be committed to screen!
09. Buddy Ackerman (Kevin Spacey) – SWIMMING WITH SHARKS (1994)
For anybody who has worked as a PA will likely attest, those who have such employees are often megalomaniacs in the extreme. I mean, how can anybody who has somebody running around after them all day not be one!?
Kevin Spacey as Buddy Ackerman is one of the most extreme caricatures of a horrible boss, launching a reign of terror over his assistant Guy (Frank Whaley). Screaming insults such as, “You’re just an assistant” and “You have no brain”, Ackerman is one of the most vindictive and vulgar bosses on film.
Played with a witty, black humour by Kevin Spacey, Ackerman is someone even the toughest of people couldn’t stand working for. Many of us have had bosses that have made the odd personal comment – I’ll never forget one of the first bosses I ever had working part time in retail thinking she owned me and could dictate my hairstyle: the audacity!! – but Spacey pushes the boundaries of decency by making Ackerman one of the most mean spirited, egocentric and simply nasty bosses in the history of work, without ever over-stepping the mark to become camp or over the top in his performance.
Stealing each scene he’s in, Spacey’s Ackerman is one of the finest examples of a thoroughly horrible boss that deserves his comeuppance…
08. Bill Lumbergh (Gary Cole) – OFFICE SPACE (1999)
There’s one kind of cinematic boss that unfortunately couldn’t be closer to reality: the incessantly busy middle-manager, best exemplified by Gary Cole as the frustrating Bill Lumbergh in Office Space.
Constantly leaving memos with pointless messages for his employees or popping paperwork on their desks, he’s irritating and severely punch-able! He’s a hoverer that keeps his beady eyes on the workforce and will happily suggest that they come in at the weekend to finish their work or catch up when their behind. He’s the typical boss we all loathe to work for: far too dedicated to the job, but with enough power to make our working lives a living hell… Cole is excellent in the snaky role, get it precisely right as the boss we love to hate.
With annoying phrases like the probing, “What’s happening?, he’s the quintessential horrible boss.
07. Col. Jessop (Jack Nicholson) – A FEW GOOD MEN (1992)
In a masterful role that relinquishes the immortal lines, “You can’t handle the truth!”, Jack Nicholson isn’t the typical movie boss but a colonel in the US Army. His performance is intense and memorable, leaving an impression on viewers that won’t easily be forgotten. His delivery of lines is ferocious at times and combined with his immense facial expressions, Nicholson makes for one of the most terrifying movie bosses ever.
Whilst the film itself isn’t without its flaws – narrative is rather weak at certain points – Nicholson’s exhilarating performance is perfect ‘worst boss’ material!
06. Meredith Johnson (Demi Moore) – DISCLOSURE (1994)
To look at she’s definitely the best boss by far, but looks can kill (careers) and in Disclosure this is very nearly the case for Michael Douglas. Embarking on a torrid affair with Meredith Johnson (Demi Moore), Douglas’s Tom Sanders gets more than he bargained for when she sues him for sexual harassment…
Played by Moore with a devilishly malicious wit, Meredith is both a career bitch and a psychopath! Practically forcing Sanders to have sex with her – although to be fair, she’d be pretty hard to resist – she’s the typical boss looking for progression that would just as soon crush you as she would snog you. Despite her misgivings, I still think I’d enjoy working under her…
05. Blake (Alec Baldwin) – GLENGARRY GLEN ROSS (1992)
Alec Baldwin gives a powerhouse performance in a role that is probably the greatest of his career. Charting for a scene that lasts only 10 minutes, Baldwin has the least screen time out of all the other entries. Giving a powerful speech that’s full of expletives and enough venom to make even the steeliest of businessmen cry and that’s meant to be a pep talk to his team, Baldwin chews the scenery and tears up the screen in a moment that will remain with audiences forever. Screaming at his employees like they’re the scum on the bottom of his shoe, he is quite simply one of the most vile and outrageous bosses to ever be committed to the screen.
Blake’s speech is derogatory and vicious and I can quite frankly say that if I had to sit through a barrage of insults such as this, I’d be walking out as fast as my legs could carry me!
04. Katherine Parker (Sigourney Weaver) – WORKING GIRL (1988)
The 80s was the era that romantic comedies centred around the work place and Working Girl is one of the seminal examples. Poor old Tess (Melanie Griffith) wants nothing more but to be appreciated for her ideas and boosted up the corporate ladder. But working under the two-faced career bitch Sigourney Weaver, that ain’t gonna be an easy task! Having to put up with Katherine’s snide digs and incessant attempts to keep her firmly within a secretarial role, Tess slips into her bosses shoes when she is unexpectedly tied up with a broken ankle.
Putting together a lucrative deal for the company, Tess works closely with Katherine’s partner Jack (Harrison Ford), the two slowly falling for each other too. When Katherine gets wind of Tess’s actions, all hell breaks loose as the boss scorned attempts to trample all over the employee…
Played with a devilish wit and more than a few intimidating power suits, Sigourney Weaver is all hair and shoulder pads as the bitchy Katherine. Needless to say, it’s easy to feel sorry for anybody who finds themselves her employee!
03. Franklin Hart Jr (Dabney Coleman) – NINE TO FIVE (1980)
Nine to Five is similar to Working Girl, with its firm feminist message and screams of workplace equality. Hart is a typical misogynist boss who letches over Doralee Rhodes (Dolly Parton), his extremely blonde and busty secretary, keeps his best female employee, Violet Newstead (Lily Tomlin), from promotion by stealing her ideas and is just a general jerk towards timid new starter Judy Bernly (Jane Fonda).
Thinking she’s poisoned Hart, Violet and the girls decide to get even with him when it comes to light that he’s actually fine. Blending laugh out loud humour with some fantastic comedy, Nine to Five takes the bad boss to the next level!
Coleman laps up his role, chewing the scenery and giving a larger than life performance within his cringe-worthy role. As the tables turn and the balance of power shifts, he turns in a uproarious performance as the women’s hostage. Probably not the kind of boss you’d want to work for, unless of course you’re an equally prejudiced bloke…
02. Miranda Priestly (Meryl Streep) – THE DEVIL WEARS PRADA (2006)
Based on real life Vogue editor Anna Wintour, Priestly is the queen of bitches. One ice-cold glance could turn the steeliest of employees to jelly. The film characterises her as an unrelenting, power-loving editor, whose life revolves around what colours will be seen next season and what designer on what celebrity.
Making new employee Andie’s (Anne Hathaway’s) life a living hell – from personal insults about her weight to criticism of her writing skills – Priestly relishes in trying to crush her assistant. Working for the kind of boss who will call in the middle of dinner requesting a flight out of Florida in the middle of a hurricane, Andie’s personal life predictably suffers. However, the tables turn when Andie discovers that Priestly’s husband has left her. The emotion finally makes her human and Andie can leave Runway knowing that she has earned her bosses respect.
Meryl Streep has always been an extremely talented actress and here she has to do little but pull a few anally retentive facial expressions to suggest she is the boss from hell! In a particularly over the top performance she’s incredibly camp, but viewer’s still won’t doubt that she’s the bitch you’d never want to work for.
01. John Milton (Al Pacino) – THE DEVIL’S ADVOCATE (1997)
So most of the other bosses on this list so far have been pretty awful, but only one could truly take the crown and that’s because he’s the ACTUAL Devil! Many of us have claimed to have been forced to sell our souls to our work, but not many can say we’ve sold them to their boss… Milton screams and shouts at lawyer Kevin Lomax (Keanu Reeves), whilst insanely convincing him that he must always win.
Al Pacino is utterly convincing in the vulgar and (quite frankly) demented role, being an unnerving and rather disturbing presence whenever on screen. He plays the role with a wicked vigour that highlights the sleazy evil within the core of the character, whilst drawing attention to Lomax’s own evils. However much you hate your boss, I’m pretty certain you won’t be having to put up with one quite as bad as this ever in your career. And God help you if you do!
Got any other suggestions? Or is your boss worse than those on this week’s Top 10? Let us know by leaving a comment below!