The 10 Worst Movie Jobs

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Lights! Camera! Fantasy! Movies are where we go to forget how boring our lives are. Well, unless you’re into obscure independent movies that aim to capture our tortured, meaningless existence in gritty, hand-held camerawork. But on average, movies let us disappear into the celluloid world for a couple of hours and get lost in the images flashing on the screen.

Sometimes a movie can make us feel good about ourselves. Not because the story is uplifting but because we look at the characters and think, “At least I’m not you!” And that feeling of schadenfreude is worth the ticket price. In that spirit, we put together a list of movie characters whose jobs are less than ideal. The real-life equivalents of these jobs are perfectly fine, but in these movies no paycheck would’ve persuaded you to accept the position.

Here are the 10 worst movie jobs:

Barney Matthews in  ‘Silence of the Lambs’
No, Matthews doesn’t get eaten in the movie, but that doesn’t mean his job is peachy. How would you like to be the primary caretaker for one of the scariest inmates a prison cell has ever seen? Anyone who works in incarceration facilities has to be thick-skinned and on alert at all times, which is why not just any person is up to the challenge of the job. Throw in having to deal with Hannibal Lecter and I’d guess the list of qualified and willing candidates gets even smaller.

Chris Parker in  ‘Adventures in Babysitting’
Haven’t we all babysat to earn a little cash at some point in our lives? At worst, we had to cut gum out of a toddler’s hair or rush someone to the ER for unsuccessfully doing cartwheels off of the couch. But suburbanite Chris Parker takes three children into the scary world of downtown Chicago in the 1980s without telling their parents. They outrun  gunshots, knife fights and organized crime. Oh, and they’re forced to sing the blues in a  nightclub. Totally not worth the five bucks an hour.

Commissioner Gordon in all the ‘Batman’ films
I’ll say right now that I’d love to live in Gotham and have Batman protect me from crazy villains. However, I would not want to be the police commissioner who doesn’t get much of the spotlight for defending the city. Think about how long Gordon worked to get to that post, and now that he’s there, some guy in a cape gets all the credit for protecting citizens.

Dorothy Boyd in  ‘Jerry Maguire’
Forget about the happily ever after. The two hours leading up to the end of this movie aren’t that great if you’re Jerry Maguire’s assistant. You’re the only employee in his newfound company, so that means doing anything he doesn’t want to do. You don’t have all the perks of your previous job, which you left for him, and business is shaky, seeing as Maguire’s agency has only one client. Oh, and you fall in love with your boss only to realize he doesn’t love you all that much (at least for a while). The performance bonus had better be awesome.

Everyone in  ‘Office Space’
The fake software company in “Office Space” is the epitome of the beige cubicle world that’s been demonized by every movie, TV show and comic strip in the last few decades. It’s what so many college students fear is their future. Look at poor Milton, whose job is so pitiful he cares more about his stapler than anything else. The setting makes for a fun movie but a horrible workplace.

Grace Coddington in ‘The September Issue’ / Andy Sachs in  ‘The Devil Wears Prada’
These are two different films. “The September Issue” is a documentary about the work that goes into publishing an issue of Vogue magazine, which is under the watch of Anna Wintour. The other film is a fictitious take on what it’s like to work at a glossy fashion magazine under icy editor Miranda Priestly, who shares many similarities with Wintour.

Coddington is a stylist and creative director for the magazine and, as the film shows, her hard work getting just the right look for a spread can take weeks of planning. Then Wintour can walk in, wrinkle her nose and decide the images won’t appear in the magazine. In “Prada,” Sachs is an assistant who works herself into a frenzy just to keep Priestly happy – or as close to happy as possible. Only she quickly finds out that Priestly doesn’t care how long it takes to do something or how much effort you put into it – if it’s not what she wants at that moment, it’s useless to her. We’re not saying everyone should be handled with kid gloves, but the occasional pat on the back seems like the least a boss could do for any employee.

Lucy Kelson in  ‘Two Weeks Notice’
Kelson wants to work in the nonprofit world and go after the big corporate enemies. Instead, she finds herself working for a greedy, narcissistic head honcho. Of course they fall in love and things get sorted out because that’s what romantic comedies do, but forget that part. If you don’t have a business mind and you want your job to align with your core values, taking a job that contradicts everything you believe in is a bit  torturous. Every day you earn a fancy paycheck but hate yourself for it. All the while you’re catering to a boss you hate (though secretly love, of course). Get past the heartwarming smiles of Hugh Grant and Sandra Bullock and you have one pretty crummy job situation.

Norma Rae Webster in  ‘Norma Rae’
Any mention of Norma Rae in a list of workplace characters is a bit cliché, but her situation is the epitome of the workplace pits. Her struggle to stay healthy in an overwhelming and physically taxing workplace is bad enough, but when her efforts to change things at the factory cause her trouble at work and at home, life gets worse. Kind of puts the arguments about who ate your last string cheese from the lunch-room refrigerator into perspective, no?

The staff in  ‘Jurassic Park’
You’d think that getting to work alongside dinosaurs would be pretty cool, but one power outage later and suddenly the gig isn’t so sweet. Even the best veterinarian or the most scholarly paleontologist wouldn’t be able to handle himself or herself against a carnivorous velociraptor. Stick to your regular amusement park jobs where you can ride the roller coasters for free and eat cotton candy.

Wall-E in  ‘Wall-E’
Sure, Wall-E is the cute little garbage compactor everyone loves, but his job is actually kind of horrible because he’s all alone. Not alone the way you might feel in your cubicle with your headphones on. I mean alone alone. As in nobody-else-in-the-entire-world. For hundreds of years  he’s gone about his job, organizing the mess left behind by humans, and he only has his cockroach pal to keep him company. I think we’d at least want to have the obnoxious chatty co-worker to keep us company.

Did we forget anyone? Let us know your picks.

Bing: Movie roles stars turned down

57 Comments
  1. “Commissary Dalton” in 1964′s “Zulu”.

    He was actually the one who convinced the officers to build a barricade instead of just forming a square or trying to outrun the Zulus.

    In real life, Michael Caine’s character was slow-witted as well as nearly blind and deaf, Stanley Baker’s character was really dull and unimaginative.

    Instead of glory, they make the retired top sergeant (who had fought Maoris in New Zealand) look like some namby-pamby pencil-pusher…

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  4. I don’t know what Ned Beatty’s job was in “Deliverance” but his encounter with Bill McKinney has to rank pretty high on the list. Wheeee!

  5. Igor…Dr Franksteins assistant.

    This guy has to dig up dead bodies for minumium wage plus he has a humpback to boot. Plus he has to watch the dead guy get a wife. who is he sleeping with? A corpse…

  6. Boy is this article’s headline misleading! I thought it would outline the worst jobs in the movie industry, not the worst jobs movie characters had.

  7. The worst movie jobs. Hmmm that would have to be the background. Those poor extras get talked to, killed, maimed and tortured countless times with no credit other than minimum wage. And no, the show extras is not like real life for them either.

  8. Tim Robbins’ character in Miss Firecracker scraped roadkill off the highway for a living. I think that qualifies as a “worst job…”

  9. This was quite possibly, the worst post I have ever seen on MSN. What a joke? This article was pointless and stupid. It wasn’t even funny. Thanks for wasting 20 seconds of my life I’ll never get back.

  10. Any assistant to Buddy Ackerman (Kevin Spacey) from Swimming with Sharks.
    Quotes from Buddy:
    Buddy: No offense to you, but you are just an assistant. Now, granted, you’re MY assistant, but still just an assistant. Dawn, on the other hand, is a producer. Her car phone bills are more than your rent. So, just how far do you think you’ll get?

    Buddy: You are nothing! If you were in my toilet I wouldn’t bother flushing it. My bathmat means more to me than you!

    Buddy: What I am concerned with is detail. I asked you go get me a packet of Sweet-N-Low. You bring me back Equal. That isn’t what I asked for. That isn’t what I wanted. That isn’t what I needed and that s*** isn’t going to work around here.
    Do me a f*****g favor. Shut up, listen, and learn. Look, I know that this is your first day and you don’t really know how things work around here, so I will tell you. You have no brain. No judgement calls are necessary. What you think means nothing. What you feel means nothing. You are here for me. You are here to protect my interests and to serve my needs. So, while it may look like a little thing to you, when I ask for a packet of Sweet-N-Low, that’s what I want. And it’s your responsibility to see that I get what I want.

  11. There is a song that was on the bob and tom radio show called, “Ned Beatty Had the Hardest Part” sung to the tune of “The Waiting is the Hardest Part” by Tom Petty. I don’t remember who sang it, but it was FUNNY.

  12. Angel Fernandez in “Scarface.” He helps his boss Tony Montana with all the gritty work of building a cocaine empire, but never gets to enjoy the fruits of his criminal labors because of an unfortunate run-in with a chainsaw-toting Colombian.

    Joachim in “Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan.” He spends all of his time trying to steer Khan in the right direction and to keep him from making mistakes, only to get crushed by a piece of debris during an explosion. After all of this, he still has the loyalty to say “Yours is . . . superior . . . ” to Khan. And then dies.

    R.J. MacReady in “The Thing.” This guy is the only one with a brain in his head at the Antartic outpost, does everything he possibly can to defeat the alien Thing, devises a test to determine if someone has been infiltrated, and tries admirably to save the lives of his friends. Ultimately, he kills The Thing (apparently) only to be left in an Antartic wilderness in the height of winter with no food, shelter, or means of keeping warm. Very inspiring.

    Helen Ripley in the “Alien” movies. She survives her first encounter with the aliens (where all her friends are killed) only to spend 57 years in suspended animation on the way home. He second encounter ends similarly, although she saves the lives of Cpl. Hicks and Newt (only to have them wind up dead in the third installment). By the third movie, she herself dies from the aliens. But is it over? Is she finally at peace? No, she gets cloned from her DNA in the fourth movie, just so she can presumably keep fighting the aliens for all eternity. Hasn’t she earned a break yet?

  13. How about any Ensign who ever accompanied Captain Kirk et al to the ground in the opening shots of the original Star Trek series. They always got killed before the first commercial break.

  14. You guys wanna see some of the worst jobs ever? Watch Dirty Jobs on the Discovery channel.Trust me, the worst jobs in the movies will never be anywhere nere the worst jobs in real life.

    Also, the talking mirror in the first Shrek movie had a pretty nasty job too. Can you imagine having to play the same image over and over again for an arrogant king who won’t shut up about how gorgeous she is? That would drive me up the wall.

  15. Actually, let’s go back about 50-70 years when writers wrote screen plays for actors. I’m sure they appreciated the challenge of ‘acting’, rather than the garbage the studios are able to sell now, mainly because the naivete of the current movie goer.
    Thank god for ‘old’ movies!

  16. worst jobs in the movies ever is obviously the 4th guy who always goes down the the planet’s surface with Cptn Kirk, Spock and McCoy in the Star Treks. You know someone will have to get killed in the fight and the no-name guy is the expendable one!

  17. You forgot the movie Introducing Dorothy Dandrige her agent he had to watch the love of his life sleep with every man but him. And when she finally was about to give him a chance she dies. Like gosh what bad luck lol

  18. Ten worst movie jobs? I work in the tv biz, so I thought this would be interesting…what would the worst job be? Grip? General PA, Coffee fetcher, prop artist that makes fake poop smeared on a wall, boom mic operator for a gay porn?! Nope, damn Anthony Balderrama’s talking about jobs inside movies that actually ended up being big hits…worst article ever.

  19. WTF? Talk about a non-article. Who writes this crap, and who approved this? How about a story on stupid content on ‘the work buzz?’

  20. Joe Banks (Tom Hanks) in “Joe Vs The Volcano”
    So bad in the dingy, ugly gray office that he would rather jump into a volcano than go back to work. Maybe the worst job and worst boss ever…maybe his best movie ever, for sure Meg Ryan’s best work and her jobs in the movie were also pretty crummy working for a father she hated and resented for the work he did.

  21. Nick the bartender in “It’s A Wonderful Life”. He’s the only one in the town who actually prospered better without George Baily. In the world without George he OWNED Martini’s bar, with George around, Nick had to work for Mr. Martini.

  22. You know what’s REALLY stupid? People who take two minutes out of their oh-so-busy days to read this article, and then another five to write about how much they hated it. Just saying…

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