Hey, look, we all have to talk about business every day of the year, but who among us has been able to resist being an armchair critic at our various holiday gatherings? Well, it’s my blog and I can do what I want, so for today I’m the snooty film reviewer we all wish we could get paid to be. Here are my picks for the Top Ten Work/Life Balance films of the year. Whether they present good or bad examples in this category, they merit a special mention, and I’m sure the filmmakers concerned will forgive the tongue planted firmly in the cheek. Eat your heart out, Ebert!
1.RATATOUILLE – It’s a bit sad that the only way we can absorb the message that pursuing something you truly love to do can make you happy (and more inherently balanced) is through an animated rat, but I’ll take my uplifting wish-I-had-become-a-chef-instead-of-a-corporate-recruiter fantasies wherever I can get them. All in all, a great movie about doing what you do with passion.
2.SWEENEY TODD: THE DEMON BARBER OF FLEET STREET – Another fine example of someone doing what they love, albeit with decidedly different results. If anyone out there is thinking of taking up Sweeney Todd’s occupation, at least sacrifice those guilty of malfeasance first.
3.THE BOURNE ULTIMATUM – Jason Bourne gets to kick butt, drive fast and narrowly escape death every day. As far as I’m concerned, these are all healthy outlets for aggression and negativity, and will probably make Jason much calmer and emotionally available in his home life.
4.MICHAEL CLAYTON – This movie features a disillusioned, overworked corporate attorney having a meltdown and stripping naked during a deposition. I recommend it as aversion therapy for anyone putting in more than 40 hours a week.
5.I AM LEGEND – Again, a cautionary tale. The last man on earth, and just when he’s getting used to some quality down time, suddenly it’s all about macho competition and one-upmanship. Makes you sick.
6.EVAN ALMIGHTY – Not a great movie, but it does provide a great idea for any of us looking to bust out of the grind. I would think that calling in sick would very quickly come in second to calling in charged by God with a sacred duty. Might be worth a try.
7.TRANSFORMERS – After two hours of this noise-fest in Dolby Digital surround sound, you come out of the theatre going “work/life what? What the hell just happened to me?” It’s a short-lived respite from your everyday struggle, but having it beaten out of you is also an alternative worth exploring.
8.NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN – One poor loser is driven to risk his own life and the lives of his loved ones for a wad of cash, and another guy wanders around killing people with a compressed air canister. I can’t think of two people more in need of a nice, soothing Wayne Dyer fund drive special on PBS.
9.SPIDER MAN 3 – Spidey wrestles with his darker, more negative side this time around. It is a revealing look at the forces of the id operating in each of us, and the battles between our hero’s shadow self and his altruistic self symbolize the underlying tension between work and life, indeed the very struggle inherent in cinema itself: a two-dimensional medium trying to get at the universal truths we all experience in the reality of three dimensions. Does this make any sense? I doubt it, but I couldn’t have my film critic fantasy without saying something pretentious, now could I?
10.I’M NOT THERE – This is a rambling and bizarre art film ostensibly about the enigmatic nature of Bob Dylan and his music. The only reason it’s on the list is because of the title. It’s just something I so often wish I could say when people call.
I’m sure there are other examples, good and bad, of work/life issues to be found at the box office, so if any of them strike you, go for it, Rocky. (Or Adrienne!)