The 20 best job-quitting scenes of all time (with video)


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Quitting one’s job can make for some great drama (and comedy) in the movies. Here are some of the best moments of deciding to embrace a life of unemployment — or rather, in most cases, a life of freedom from The Man.

1. “Fight Club” (1999)

This is, for many, the best scene in David Fincher’s ode to masculinity in a hopelessly emasculated society, as the Narrator (Edward Norton) goes to physical extremes — on himself — in blackmailing his boss (Zach Grenier). “Fight Club” is usually at its best whenever Brad Pitt’s id-driven Tyler Durden is around, but Norton really shines in this tour-de-force moment of self-mutilation — it’s both funny and scary watching him punch himself in the face and crash through glass as the boss is too awestruck to realize just how screwed he is now. Jack’s Smirking Revenge, indeed.

2. “American Beauty” (1999)

When Kevin Spacey takes on that smarmy, self-righteous tone he’s so good at, there’s no actor more intimidating — or scathingly funny. Spacey’s Lester Burnham is a put-upon suburban father and husband who suddenly has an epiphany of almost supernatural proportions that leads to a series of radical life changes, one of which is quitting his job at an advertising agency in the most satisfying way possible. Thank goodness we have the movies to fuel our fantasies of telling off our bosses so we don’t go around pulling this kind of crap ourselves.

3. “Reality Bites” (1994)

John Mahoney makes for one of the worst movie bosses of all time as the host of an intolerably cheesy talk show, with Winona Ryder playing his emotionally abused assistant. When it comes time for Winona to instigate her own firing, director Ben Stiller can’t help but go a little too far with the wacky shenanigans (this is the guy behind the sketch comedy show, “The Ben Stiller Show,” after all) as Mahoney makes a fool (or, rather, a prick) of himself on television thanks to some tampered-with notecards (that cutaway shot to the aghast audience is especially wretched), but how can you not help but cheer when Winona Ryder gets her revenge against a big jerk? Hopelessly dated now, “Reality Bites” now serves as a historical piece documenting the trials and tribulations of employment-phobic Generation X.

4. “The Apartment” (1960)

“You dig?” Fred MacMurray dares condescend to Jack Lemmon in Billy Wilder’s mischievous comedy. Lemmon plays an executive who tries to rise in the ranks of his company (all the way up to the 27th Floor, in fact) by letting the higher-ups use his apartment for trysts; things get complicated when he embarks on a romance of his own and starts to realize that the whole arrangement is rather, well, gross. If you want to be cynical about it, Lemmon’s C.C. Baxter could be seen as a younger version of Shelly ‘The Machine’ Levene, the washed-up salesman he played 32 years later in “Glengarry Glen Ross,” though we’d like to think Baxter went on to a lucrative career and never needed to rob his own office.

5. “Breaking Away” (1979)

Watch as a young Rorschach from “Watchman” literally punches the clock! People seem to have forgotten that Jackie Earle Haley was quite the renowned child actor, stealing bases (and scenes) as Kelly Leak in “The Bad News Bears” and coming of age as Moocher in “Breaking Away.” Mooch needs a job, but he doesn’t need a job where the boss calls him “Shorty” — quitting within 30 seconds of your first day has to be some sort of record, and Dennis Christopher, Dennis Quaid (looking considerably older than his co-stars) and Daniel Stern heartily approve.

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Documentary Now! Robert Evans Mansion

The Reel Deal

Everything You Need To Know About “Mr. Runner Up” Inspiration Robert Evans

Watch the two-part finale of Documentary Now! this Wednesday at 10P on IFC.

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Photo Credit: Everett Collection

In its upcoming two-part finale, Documentary Now! spoofs the crown jewel of docs: The Kid Stays In The Picture. It’s the autobiographical documentary about Robert Evans, the unlikely Hollywood mogul whose mix of self-aggrandizing bravado, classic good looks and extremely circumstantial good luck took him from being a salesman to an actor to the head of Paramount Pictures.

If you’ve never seen the film, it’s totally worth it. Rotten Tomatoes agrees, with a staggeringly-high approval rating. Watch it before, or watch it after — doesn’t matter. You’ll appreciate it whenever.

In the meantime, here’s a bit of background that will come in handy…

Robert Loves Robert

Robert Evans desk

USA Films/Everett Collection

Robert Evans is the ultimate Robert Evans fan. The movie was narrated by Robert Evans and based on his memoir of the same name. It is totally unbiased.

He’s Kind Of A Big Deal

Robert Evans, Chinatown
Paramount Pictures

Evans produced some of Hollywood’s true classics: Chinatown, Rosemary’s Baby, The Godfather, Love Story…the list goes on. Totally legit and amazing movies.

He’s Also Kind Of A Joke

Wag The Dog
New Line Cinema

Evans has been parodied in TV shows and movies like Entourage and Wag The Dog. He is the quintessential “producer” you already have in your head.

So Wrong He’s Right

Robert Evans Slap
20th Century Film Corp

Robert Evans is a notorious narcissist whose love of self is so blind and sincere that it’s actually adorable.

There’s Something Missing

via Giphy

Entire sections of Robert Evans’ life are left out of the documentary. Maybe it’s because of timing. Maybe it’s because real life isn’t a tidy narrative. Who knows.

He Blew It

Spider coke

Evans had a pretty spectacular fall from grace. He was convicted of cocaine trafficking in the early 80’s, and was connected to a contract killing during the production of The Cotton Club. Oops.

Losing Is For Losers

Everett Collection
Everett Collection

In the Robert Evans mythology, all tragedies are just triumphs in disguise, and every story has a happy ending…for Robert Evans.

Bill Hader Jerry Wallach

With these simple facts in hand you are now prepared to thoroughly enjoy the two-part finale of Documentary Now! starting this Wednesday at 10/9c on IFC.

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Weird Roles

Anthony Michael Hall’s Most Rotten Movies

Catch Anthony Michael Hall in Weird Science on Friday at 8P on IFC.

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Photo Credit: Universal/Everett Collection

Anthony Michael Hall was the quintessential ’80s nerd. We love him in classics like The Breakfast Club and National Lampoon’s Vacation. But even the brainiest among us has his weak spots. In honor of Weird Science airing this Rotten Friday, we analyze Hall’s worst movies.

Weird Science (1985) 56%

A low point for John Hughes, Weird Science is way too wacky for its own good. Anthony Michael Hall’s Gary and his pal Wyatt (Ilan Mitchell-Smith) create the “perfect woman.” Supernatural chaos ensues. The film costars a young Bill Paxton, floppy disks, and a general disconnect from all reality.

The Caveman’s Valentine (2001) 46%

This ambitious drama starring Samuel L. Jackson couldn’t live up to its rich premise. Jackson plays Romulus, a Juilliard-educated, paranoid schizophrenic who lives in a cave. Hall co-stars as Bob, a rich man, who wants to see Romulus play the piano. The plot centers around Romulus investigating a murder, but with so much going on, the movie never quite finds its rhythm.

All About the Benjamins (2002) 30%

Ice Cube plays a bounty hunter who teams up with Mike Epps’ con man to catch diamond thieves. Hall plays Lil J, a small-time drug dealer. It’s definitely a role we’ve never seen Hall in, but overall the movie isn’t funny or original enough to justify its violence.

Freddy Got Fingered (2001) 11%

This showcase for Tom Green’s goofy gross-out comedy is often hailed as one of the worst films of all time. Green plays Gord, a 20-something slacker, who dreams of having his own animated series. Hall is Dave Davidson, a CEO of an animation studio who eventually helps Gord find success. Too bad Tom Green wasn’t so lucky.

Johnny Be Good (1988) 0%

Hall plays against type as Johnny Walker, a star quarterback. Robert Downey Jr. is his best friend and Uma Thurman plays his devoted girlfriend. Despite the support of a future A-list cast, the movie lacks central conflict and charm. Or, as TV Guide put it, “Johnny be worthless.” Ouch.

Catch the “Too Rotten to Miss” Weird Science this Friday at 8P on IFC.

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Season 6: Episode 1: Pickathon

Binge Fest

Portlandia Season 6 Now Available On DVD

The perfect addition to your locally-sourced, artisanal DVD collection.

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End of summer got you feeling like:

Portlandia Toni Screaming GIF

Ease into fall with Portlandia‘s sixth season. Relive the latest exploits of Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein’s cast of characters, including Doug and Claire’s poignant breakup, Lance’s foray into intellectual society, and the terrifying rampage of a tsukemen Noodle Monster! Plus, guest stars The Flaming Lips, Glenn Danzig, Louis C.K., Kevin Corrigan, Zoë Kravitz, and more stop by to experience what Portlandia is all about.

Pick up a copy of the DVD today, or watch full episodes and series extras now on IFC.com and the IFC app.

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