Top 10 Movie Resignations
#10 – The OfficeHaving put up with spending every weekday flogging paper while having to deal with David Brent as a boss and Gareth Keenan as a neighbour, it came as no surprise when Martin Freeman’s lovably miserable Tim Montgomery decides to throw in the towel. Giving Brent and Keenan a piece of his mind before resigning, then marching confidently back into the office only to be publicly rejected by the woman he loves is a decidedly mixed bag of a quitting, but memorable nonetheless.
#9 – Bridget Jones’ DiaryA classic public quitting. Renée Zellwegger calmly avenges herself on her sleazy boss Hugh Grant while all her co-workers look on with glee. Watch it, and I defy you not to want to get up, slap the nearest love-rat and leave to office to a chorus of applause and approval. Go on.
#8 – Half-BakedSurely anyone who has ever worked in the fast-food industry has dreamed of a way to quit like this. Scarface (Guillermo Diaz) quits his job flipping cow-patties, while letting it be known that the customers are just as responsible for his oppression as his boss and co-workers (not all of them, though — there’s one patron in particular that he relieves of any blame). Oh, what sweet, deep-fried catharsis.
#7 – Breaking BadWalter White (Bryan Cranston) – high-school chemistry teacher/car wash attendant/cancer sufferer in private health insurance America. Reacting to the general shitty injustices being heaped upon him by deciding to produce and sell methamphetamine means that Bryan doesn’t have to put up with his wanker-eyebrowed boss in his second job. One of the best of the scenes of angry rebellion this series is famous for.
#6 – The ApartmentJack Lemmon is the perfect representative of the stressed everyman unwilling to stoop in order to move up the economic pecking order. When his boss takes a shine to poor Jack’s lady-love Shirley McClain and expects him to step out of the way and know his place, Lemmon responds smoothly and nobly in an obvious antecedent to our number one pick. Skip to six minutes in to get to the meat.
#5 – Office SpaceIn a film all about late 20th century office ennui, there is actually only one genuine resignation in the film, and it’s not in the office. It falls to Jennifer Aniston, chafing under the tyranny of inane service management, to rebel against the rigid dictats handed down to staff about being individual through the number of flairs they wear on their uniforms. The one-figured-salute seems like the most appropriate reaction to such nonsense, and she sticks it to them royally. Unfortunately the clip is unavailable, but check out the trailer for a taste of the delights Office Space holds for anyone unsatisfied at work.
#4 – Jerry MaguireThe fish went with him. Poor old Jerry and his ethical dilemmas. Deciding that the sports representation business has taken a bit of a dive morally since the good old days all Americans seem capable of faintly remembering, Jerry Maguire executes a very public and humiliating resignation which manages to raise the hairs on the back of Renée Zellweggar’s neck so far that she quits with him. And the fish go too.
#3 – NetworkWhile not technically a resignation scene, this movie breakdown is pretty close to one. Peter Finch won the Oscar posthumously for his performance as a stressed newsreader at the end of his tether. The full classic scene in which he exhorts the American public not to take it anymore, is below. There is actually a firing/resignation scene featuring Robert Duvall and William Holden earlier in the film in which Holden tells his boss Duvall “How about fuck you, sweetheart?”. Check it out.
#2 – Fight ClubDavid Fincher’s film undoubtedly features one of cinema’s finest resignation scenes, one in which the Narrator (Edward Norton) blackmails his boss by going physical on himself. A tour-de-force moment of self-mutilation, the scene walks a thin line between fear and funny as we watch him punch himself in the face and crash through glass in front of his amazed and bemused boss. Unfortunately the scene below is edited, so you’ll just have to go watch it to enjoy.
#1 – American BeautyLester Burnham’s slick and sleazy ‘fuck you’ to his middle-management office job is a masterclass in how to imagine yourself quitting the job you hate. Blackmail with a smile. Rivaling this in the same film, of course, is the dinner scene in which Annette Bening and Kevin Spacy slug it out over the conequences of Burnham’s opt-out. “Oh you don’t complain? Excuse me, excuse me, I must be psychotic then. If you don’t complain, then WHAT IS THIS? Yeah, let’s bring out the laugh meter and see how loud it gets on that one…you don’t complain.” SMASH. “Don’t interrupt me, honey.” Enjoy.