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Realistic Jobs In Movies?
March 1, 2012 7:43 AM   Subscribe

What are some movies that portray a career or job or professional really well and accurately? Movies that made you sit up and go " Yep that's what being a lawyer/doctor/actor/food additive executive" is like.
posted by The Whelk to Media & Arts (40 answers total) 89 users marked this as a favorite
 
George Clooney's work in "Up In The Air" perfectly captured the airport-lounges-and-hotel-conference-room drabness of being any kind of Road warrior, whether it's sales, public speaking, consulting or whatever. Uncanny how well that film conveys the mood of those transitory places and the people who populate them.
posted by anildash at 7:45 AM on March 1, 2012 [17 favorites]


I had a journalism professor who vouched for the (relative) accuracy of The Paper and Network.

From my own experience running several stores, Clerks is surprisingly accurate.
posted by griphus at 7:47 AM on March 1, 2012 [5 favorites]


Office Space
posted by bearette at 7:54 AM on March 1, 2012 [9 favorites]


_Party Girl_ does OK for librarians. (Now I'm afraid Jessamyn is going to scream at me)

Office Space did a fine fine job on both the restaurant and office sides of the story.
posted by Blake at 7:55 AM on March 1, 2012 [1 favorite]


Broadcast News, but it's dated.
posted by Ideefixe at 7:55 AM on March 1, 2012


The Wire (not a movie, I know) is the only thing I've ever seen that portrayed teaching/schools with any realism whatsoever.
posted by etc. at 7:58 AM on March 1, 2012 [8 favorites]


According to a number of chefs, the movie that best captures the realities of working in a restaurant kitchen is Ratatouille.
posted by Faint of Butt at 7:58 AM on March 1, 2012 [9 favorites]


Anatomy Of A Murder is said to be very accurate, even if it's 50 years old.
posted by beaucoupkevin at 8:02 AM on March 1, 2012


My parents, who are both lawyers, have cited My Cousin Vinny as being a decent representative of what courtroom dialogue in criminals trials is like.
posted by Aizkolari at 8:05 AM on March 1, 2012 [4 favorites]


I'm not sure how reliable this is, but a friend says his friend the Navy SEAL says Act of Valor is extremely accurate.
posted by Folk at 8:14 AM on March 1, 2012


Now I'm afraid Jessamyn is going to scream at me

Nah I think it's true. Not so much the "this is the grouchy lady behind the counter" but when her aunt (?) goes on a rant about why it's important to do what they do, I feel like that encapsulates the library mindset in a way you don't usually see in the movies.

And agree with anildash about Up in the Air.
posted by jessamyn at 8:25 AM on March 1, 2012 [3 favorites]


I've heard people involved in UK politics say that Yes, Minister and its spiritual successor In the Thick of It are depressingly accurate.

Generation Kill seems like a very realistic portrayal of the U.S. Marines (it was made by the same guys who made The Wire) and is based closely on real-life events. It even features one of the actual marines from Wright's book, playing himself.
posted by Drexen at 8:32 AM on March 1, 2012 [4 favorites]


For insight into the world of chain restaurants, see Waiting.
posted by juliplease at 8:37 AM on March 1, 2012 [5 favorites]


"Norma Rae" was a wonderfully detailed portrayal of factory work AND labor organizing.
posted by hermitosis at 8:37 AM on March 1, 2012 [1 favorite]


All the President's Men well captures the absolute and voluminous drudgery that reporters must slog through to produce their work, whether or it exposes presidents.
posted by shallowcenter at 8:38 AM on March 1, 2012


Tangential from akin's mention of The Wire being a good representation of teaching -- similarly, a policeman who came to my school once said that Barney Miller was the best illustration of "what police work is really like" than anything else he'd seen. (Granted, this was in a small town in Connecticut, and its accuracy may have been altered if we'd been in a bigger city.)
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:46 AM on March 1, 2012


Scrubs is a very realistic portrayal of medical life, much more so than ER, House, Grey's Anatomy, etc.
posted by chengjih at 8:58 AM on March 1, 2012 [8 favorites]


What Just Happened is an incredibly realistic look at what life is really like for a Hollywood producer.

It got horrible reviews and many people found the movie ridiculous, but for those of us in the trenches I swear it's the most realistic depiction of Hollywood I've ever seen.
posted by BlahLaLa at 9:04 AM on March 1, 2012


My dad, a physician, tells me that Red Beard is a remarkably good take on what it's like to be a physician. It's set in nineteenth-century Japan, but apparently it captures the fabric of the profession quite well.

Legally Blonde, if you can get past the character, is actually a fairly good take on law school. The Lincoln Lawyer does a pretty good job of criminal defense work. Michael Clayton isn't bad at the corporate side of things.
posted by valkyryn at 9:07 AM on March 1, 2012


I've heard people involved in UK politics say that Yes, Minister and its spiritual successor In the Thick of It are depressingly accurate.

In The Loop was the feature film spun off from The Thick of It.
posted by griphus at 9:09 AM on March 1, 2012 [2 favorites]


My parents, who are both lawyers, have cited My Cousin Vinny as being a decent representative of what courtroom dialogue in criminals trials is like.

My lawyer stepfather told me the same thing last week.
posted by HotPatatta at 9:10 AM on March 1, 2012 [3 favorites]


The Sandbaggers is said to be a realistic Cold War spy movie. Almost all of it is office politics and walking between offices and sitting at desks, punctuated by the occasional terrifying mission.
posted by zippy at 9:22 AM on March 1, 2012


TV series, not movie
posted by zippy at 9:22 AM on March 1, 2012


I am a lawyer. I don't watch a lot of law-related movies, but two that are very realistic in their depiction of a lawyer's life were "The Rainmaker" and "The Lincoln Lawyer."

"The Rainmaker" is dead-on in its depiction of the struggles and anxieties of a young lawyer trying to make it as a solo practitioner. It captured my early days with eerie accuracy, from the office I occupied to the kind of humiliations I endured in court because I didn't know what I was doing.

"The Lincoln Lawyer" is absolutely perfect in its depiction of what a big-city criminal defense lawyer's life is like. It's remarkable because it gets so many trivial details right; there's a conversation with a bailiff/sheriff's deputy in a courtroom that really didn't have to be there, but it's just right. The hustling in and out of courthouses, the "patter" that criminal defense attorneys learn and use in dealing with clients, DA's, investigators ... It's all there. It shows that Connelly (who wrote the book it was based on) either did a lot of research or was immersed in that world (I think he was a crime journalist, but the verisimilitude still surprises me).
posted by jayder at 9:45 AM on March 1, 2012 [7 favorites]


For those brief moments where it showed production work, 8 mile did a good job of representing factory / warehouse work, and the mood / atmosphere / people there.
posted by idiopath at 11:46 AM on March 1, 2012 [1 favorite]


The Apostle seems a pretty realistic portrayal of southern tent preachers
posted by timsteil at 12:13 PM on March 1, 2012


My father the salesman always said that Tin Men was one of the best portrayals of "sales" culture (particularly that of dubious products/services) ever captured on film. He also said that the second half of Full Metal Jacket was the Vietnam war movie that most accurately captured what he saw and went through over there.
posted by KingEdRa at 12:29 PM on March 1, 2012


A Useful Life (trailer) gets the mood of running an independent, ideal-driven art house / repertory movie theater perfectly. When you're feeling depressed about it, at least.

In a completely different vein, John Carpenter's contribution to Masters of Horror, Cigarette Burns, captures certain aspects of the psychology of film programmers on the trail of something they're excited about and obsessed by.
posted by bubukaba at 12:47 PM on March 1, 2012


I've heard people involved in UK politics say that Yes, Minister and its spiritual successor In the Thick of It are depressingly accurate.


Compare with Borgen.
posted by iviken at 1:03 PM on March 1, 2012 [1 favorite]


The Sandbaggers is said to be a realistic Cold War spy movie [tv series].

Actually, you've just reminded me that at the time it came out, Siskel and Ebert applauded the film The Falcon and The Snowman for giving a realistic presentation of what being a spy was "really like".
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 1:26 PM on March 1, 2012 [1 favorite]


Boiler Room and Glengarry Glen Ross do a *great* job on high pressure sales.

From experience, Nth-ing Up In The Air.
posted by kjs3 at 2:51 PM on March 1, 2012 [3 favorites]


Mad Men, also not a movie, is scary spot on for NY ad agencies. The part that gets me is how if a client meeting goes well, it's a great day. If it goes terribly, there's a lot of shouting and closed doors and sad drinking later.
posted by sweetkid at 3:29 PM on March 1, 2012 [1 favorite]


My Stepfather is a retired ER Physician of 30 years, and claims that the TV series Becker is the most accurate representation of being a doctor.
posted by hellojed at 6:09 PM on March 1, 2012


Compare with Borgen.

Borgen - which I love! - is The West Wing. It's political porn. I'm with Drexen in that The Thick of It is painfully close to the life of a Special Adviser to a (British) Minister.

You'd have to be a fair bit higher up the Whitehall food chain than I managed to be able to take a view on whether Yes, Minister paints a credible picture but Thatcher said it was pretty accurate in her diaries.
posted by dmt at 8:41 AM on March 2, 2012 [1 favorite]


The episode "Spider" in From the Earth to the Moon has a pretty good representation of what R&D Engineering is like.
posted by JustAGuy at 10:10 PM on March 2, 2012 [2 favorites]


Seconding Anatomy of a Murder. It obviously has more glamor and drama than a real trial would have, but it gets the law and the workings of a trial exactly right.
posted by kingjoeshmoe at 12:42 PM on March 3, 2012


In my experience, The Class (Entre les murs) did a good job of showing what it is really like to teach inner city kids.
posted by rmless at 6:10 PM on March 4, 2012


This might sound a little odd, but I actually think the best representation on TV I have seen of being a doctor is actually "Scrubs". It is far, far more realistic than any formal medical drama / film and (obviously slightly exaggerated for humour), picks up on the internal tensions between medical specialties, the hierarchies and trials and tribulations of junior doctors. It also picks up the largely mundane nature of much of the job and the fact that it is the small triumphs that keep you going.
posted by inbetweener at 4:50 PM on March 6, 2012


The B-B-C's series Taking the Flak is riotously funny but it's also the most realistic portrayal I've seen of international broadcast journalism. The writers are former foreign correspondents, one of whom used to be married to John Simpson (best known for reporting from Kabul in a burqa). The series caricatures him mercilessly but the other characters (the ever-upstaged local stringer, the mousy radio journo, the exasperated field producer) are also remarkably true to type.
posted by embrangled at 12:47 AM on April 13, 2012


Oh, and the forensics guy who came to fingerprint my house when I was burgled reckoned Dexter was the most realistic of the forensic crime shows. I asked him which was the worst and he said CSI, no question.
posted by embrangled at 12:53 AM on April 13, 2012


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