Tag Archives: Hollywood movie

Smoking Room (2002)

 Smoking Room is a spanish-language, english-subtitled movie about a middle-level executive Ramirez (Eduard Fernandez) who is outraged when the U.S.-based top management of his company decides to ban smoking in the whole office building. Ramirez believes that this mandate is being imposed on his office without regard to the acceptability and pervasiveness of smoking in the Spanish culture. He sets out on a signature campaign against the smoking-ban rule. At first he finds a few colleagues who support his petition, but he soon becomes embroiled in office politics where every body has their own agenda and loyalties are changed with convenience.

Anyone who spends some time thinking about smoking will realize that it has gone from being completely accepted in many countries (including in the United States) to becoming a socially unacceptable practice. most public places now ban smoking, movies and TV shows are encouraged (or required) to not associate glamor with smoking, and smokers are expected to step out of the office (or go 20 feet away from the office) if they want to light up. The glamor associated with smoking has almost gone, and now smoking is associated with diseases like cancer and bad health. In such an environment, are companies discriminating against smokers when they are required to go out if they want to smoke (sometimes in freezing cold and sometimes in burning heat)? And, if smokers do take smoking breaks during work hours, should companies allow non-smokers to take equivalent breaks too? (Click here for a pro-smoking blog and here for an anti-smoking blog). Smoking in the workplace raises a number of questions. Smoking Room doesn’t answer any/all of them, but it does make them more salient. (Interestingly, it seems like employers are now testing for nicotine smoking like they test for drugs and alcohol).

The movie is really slow and not very engaging. Plus, it’s in a spanish, with English subtitles. If you can use non-English language movies with your audience, this may be a good movie to consider.


Swimming with Sharks (1994)

 Swimming with Sharks (1994) is the story of a young, ambitious Hollywood executive Guy (Frank Whaley) who gets a job as a personal assistant to a Hollywood movie mogul Buddy Ackerman (Kevin Spacey). Guy is fresh out of school and looks forward to working with Buddy to learn the movie business. Unfortunately, Buddy turns out to be an abusive boss who treats his employees like slaves, abuses them verbally, physically, and emotionally, and publicly humiliates them. Buddy’s behavior is so abusive that it not only affects Guy psychologically and emotionally, it also has a tremendous impact on his relationship with Dawn (Michelle Forbes0, a young movie producer. Finally, when Guy has had enough, he takes matters in his own hands and decides to show Buddy how it feels to be abused and humiliated.

This movie is about abusive workplace behavior. The fact that it is set in Hollywood, the dream destination of many young people, makes it an interesting watch! It shows many behaviors that abusive supervisors use against their employees. The scene where Guy needs to go to the bathroom but Buddy does not let him go certainly takes abusive supervision to a whole different level. When Guy complains about the way he is treated, Buddy is dismissive of him. Buddy’s attitude towards Guy’s complaints is that he just has to learn how to be tough and take it like a man, if he wants to succeed. (Click here if you want to read about abusive supervision at United States Postal Service, a high-visibility employer in the United States!). Just as in the movie, it is not uncommon for abusive supervision to lead to workplace violence. Click here if you want to read the No-Axxhxxe-Rule some recommend for employees who feel they may be in an abusive workplace.

The movie is somewhat slow, but it is a good movie is for courses or classes discussing abusive supervision, deviant work place behavior, human resource management, and organizational behavior.


  Rashomon (1950) is a critically acclaimed popular Japanese movie. It is the story of a woman’s rape and the murder of a man told from four different perspectives: The woman, the rapist, the dead man, and a witness to the crime. The four accounts are narrated in flashback and contradict each other in several ways. None of the accounts can be fully true, yet the four characters in the story seem to believe in their own story.

The movie is slow, but engaging. It is interesting to watch four people offer such varied accounts of what is apparently the same event. The business world (and organizational life in general) is full of such multi-perspective stories. A number of scholars have written about business as sense-making, i.e. our recollection of any incident is influenced by how we make sense of it. Consider, the recent Microsoft-Yahoo-Google ‘love triangle’. We all know that Microsoft bid for Yahoo, which Yahoo refused and Google opposed. But what happened behind the scenes, why did Microsoft, Google, and Yahoo behave the way they did, who finally won and who lost are questions whose answers will be different based on who is answering them and what his or her vantage point is.

In all, a classic movie to talk about sense-making and narratives (Of course, it needs to be remembered that the movie is in Japanese!)    

October Sky

octsky.jpg It is not everyday that Hollywood makes a movie about a young American inspired by Russian achievements. October Sky (1999) is a movie based on the true-life story of four young boys who, inspired by the Russian launch of Sputnik, decide to develop their own rocket. The problem is that the four young boys are neither children of NASA employees nor private school students with unlimited resources, but are small-town residents with very few resources and even fewer supporters. Homer (the main character in the story) and his three friends live in a small mining town where the destiny for people is to work for the coal mines. However, Homer does not want to follow his father to the coal mines and dreams of building a rocket. Homer ultimately achieves his dream and launches a rocket, but not before his loving father becomes the biggest obstacle in his path.

I think what makes October Sky a movie worth watching is that it is based on a true-story. If the movie was fictitious, it would just be another typical Hollywood movie with a feel-good message. But this is a movie based on a real-life story about innovation and determination. It is not about entrepreneurship, but is about innovation, which some consider is the hallmark of entrepreneurs.    

Young Hearts Unlimited

yhu.jpgComedy, family, drama, emotions, and action- This movie has it all. The problem is that adding many different ingredients does not necessarily give you a great biryani. Simply stated, Young Hearts Unlimited is a biryani goe bad!

This is the story of three children who take upon themselves to raise $50,000 in one month to save a service station that the city mayor wants to demolish to construct a new mall. The children identify a hitherto unrecognized opportunity- online dating (Think match.com or eharmony.com). They add their own unique element to online dating by using short videos for people to introduce themselves and see each other. Of course, in the end the business is successful, they reach their target revenue, and the ‘evil’ mayor is defeated. Despite the simplicity of the story, what could have been a sweet family movie turned out to be a wastage of time and money (for viewers I am certain, for the producer I imagine).

Nevertheless, the movie does have relevance to entrepreneurship. Specifically:

1. It discusses opportunity identification and incremental innovation to position the new business in a competitive market.

2. It shows how small business can use fliers as a marketing tool.

3. It discusses the use of franchising when a company with a unique idea wants fast expansion but lacks the resources to do it.

4. Most importantly, the movie shows the relationship between entrepreneurship and economic development. The mayor wants to demolish the family-owned service station that has been with the family for three generations to make way for new businesses that will bring much-needed development and revenue to the town. However, the owner of the service station Bryan wants to save his business because that is the only work he knows how to do. The macro-impact of entrepreneurship conflicts with its micro-consequences.

Maybe, a movie that some kids may enjoy. As for more mature audience and adults, I say unless you want to watch it to get some entrepreneurship-related video clips, you may want to pass it.



Jerry McGuire

JMJerry McGuire is a 1996 movie (Tom Cruise, Cuba Gooding Jr., and Renee Zellweger) about a top-league sports agent Jerry. Late one night Jerry has a bad feeling about the work he does- lots of players to manage, no personal connection with the players, and the single-minded pursuit of money- and he writes a new mission statement which seeks to radically change the way sports agent in the company he works for manage players. His boss and almost everybody else (I say almost, because one accountant Dorothy Boyd is inspired by his new mission) in the company does not like his new ideas about reducing the number of players and making strong personal connections with the players and he is fired from his job. Jerry starts his own company with one player (Rod Tidwell who believes he is not getting the money and the attention he deserves), one part-time employee (the lovestricken Dorothy whose salary and benefits he can not pay), and major competition from his past employer. In a classic story of David beat Goliath, Jerry finally becomes successful when Rod Tidwell is instrumental in the victory of his team, his business philosophy of personal connection with the players is noticed and appreciated, and his entrepreneurial venture takes off. Of course, as with almost all Tom Cruise movie the story of his romantic relationship with Dorothy is interwoven with the strory of his entrepreneurship experience.

Jerry McGuire was a very successful movie and most people who watch it like that it’s a light-hearted movie that makes you feel good. Here is a guy, who gives up everything he has for a noble cause, works hard, competes with the big guys, and finally succeeds. It is a great discussion movie about entrepreneurship and the role of relationships with customers and clients in succeeding in a new business. It also provides good examples of some very practical and seemingly mundane issues related to starting a new business- who will pay the bills, who will take care of health care and other medical costs, how do you market yourself, and the inevitable frustration that most entrepreneurs have during the start-up phase. It is also a good movie to talk about the role of values and ethics in our lives, especially in the sports industry (in the words of one blogger, “money controls everything else in the universe, so why not sports“). In short, a feel-good movie that most people are likely to have watched already!

Employee of the Month

Anybody who has ever visited, or better yet worked in, an American box store (e.g. Walmart, K-Mart), will instantly recognize Employee of the Month (2006) as a comedy set in a common American workplace. It is the story of Zach Bradley, a box boy at Super Club, who goes through his work with negligible interest in his work or his company. On the other hand is Vince Downey, a head cashier who has won the last 17 Employee of the Month awards, and is committed to winning it once more so he can join the Hall of Fame and win a new car. Just when you think Vince is a winner and Zach is a loser, enter Amy- a new cashier transferring from another Super Club who has a reputation for dating only Employee of the Month awardees. Boy-meets-girl, and Vince and Zach become competitors for the award. After many twists and turns, Zach wins the award (as well as Amy). 

The movie is a fantastic example of the role of motivation in influencing employee behavior and workplace commitment. Academics define motivation as the reason/s for engaging in a specific behavior. According to one theory, people can be either motivated by external (extrinsic motivation) or internal (intrinsic motivation) reasons. When intrinsically motivated, people do something because they want to. When extrinsically motivated, people do something for a reward to. Like with most psychological theories, there is an on-going debate between theorists who believe both intrinsic and extrinsic reasons are equally motivating, those who believe that one is better than other, and those who believe the distinction between intrinsic and extrinsic reasons is absurd and meaningless.

In the movie, Zach ccould care less about extrinsic rewards such as the Employee of the Month award and the new car, while Vince is attracted to these external rewards. However, Amy’s entry changes things- Zach is attracted to her and is now intrinsically motivated to become the  Employee of the Month so she would date him. The competition between Zach and Vince is hilarious and provides a great example of how people are differently affected by intrinsic and extrinsic reasons.