TV And Film Slackers And Awful Workers That Deserve A Salute On Labor Day

Labor Day is a time to celebrate the great American workforce and the tireless effort put forth by the men and women who made (and make) this country hum, but what about the other side? The bad employees and the slackers? Where is there day? As many take today to kick back and relax, let’s also celebrate those on-screen workers who make it their mission to take it easy every day — whether because they are dedicated to (or a victim of) the art of slacking or simply awful at doing the work thing.


Even though Bender is a robot with three times the strength and stamina of a human, he almost always tries to find the easy way out of a job, whether he’s pushing Nibbler’s freshly pooped dark matter in the ship’s furnace at a crucial moment of peril, or delivering pillows across a planet with extreme gravity. Bender even comes up with ways to make money without actually working, like adopting a whole brood of orphans or selling his body in a non-sexual manner. – Danny Gallagher


Every single employee in 2005’s restaurant comedy Waiting… is terrible. Yet the cook, Raddimus, played by the always delightful Luis Guzmán, stands out above the rest. Why? For many reasons, which include adding extra “seasoning” to orders returned to the kitchen by dissatisfied customers, and having sex with a nice young woman (while being surprise-photographed) in the men’s restroom. It’s all pretty terrible, and you’ll never want to eat out again, but yeah… Raddimus is the worst. – Andrew Husband

High Fidelity

I suspect a person takes a job at an indie record store because they think they’ll be able to get paid while listening to music all day. Barry (Jack Black) in High Fidelity takes it to the slacker extreme, though, by not just showing up late, but downright chasing customers away when their musical tastes don’t align with his. Rob (John Cusack) can’t fire him, though, because he keeps coming back. Plus, the guy is in an R&B cover band called Barry Jive and the Uptown Five, a.k.a. Kathleen Turner Overdrive, a.k.a. Sonic Death Monkey, and that’s just good cred for any record store. – Bennett Hawkins

Super Troopers

As somebody who grew up in rural Vermont, I may have never been a police officer, but I understand the appeal of screwing around and pranking everyone around you because you have literally nothing to do. That’s why Super Troopers is such a great movie: it perfectly captures a group of people fighting boredom. That they troll that most common of species in Vermont, the overprivileged honky stoner, is just a bonus. – Dan Seitz

No Country for Old Men

Sure, the sheriff of Terrell County, Texas, Ed Tom Bell (Tommy Lee Jones) could wax poetic about the old timers that came before him, but when it came to his own police work, to say he phoned it in would be an understatement. After lazily strolling around the scene of a shootout, he scoffs at any suggestion that he go back to reexamine it, which is the same reaction he gives when forced to do any modicum of police work. Instead, he tells made-up stories about “man vs. steer,” then bellyaches about losing his sense of purpose in the world. It’s best that he retired, considering he wasn’t doing any good while wearing that badge. – Christian Long

Grosse Pointe Blank

Martin Blank is a highly sought after hit man at the start of Grosse Pointe Blank, a darkly comedic rom-com/existential jaunt about going home again, roads not taken, and aging. As the carefully constructed barriers between Blank’s precise work life and the civilian existence he left behind start to fall, though, he begins to get distracted at the worst possible moment — a time when he actually has someone to lose and a bunch of ruthless killers in hot pursuit. Unlike a lot of the other entries on this list, Blank seems like he’s good at his job on paper, but his near downfall is a powerful endorsement for the concept of establishing a work/life balance, because focusing only on putting people down for money isn’t working for his sanity and it’s seriously hurting his career. – Jason Tabrys

Time Out (2001)

There’s a dark side to slacking off too, one that Larent Cantet explores in this story of Vincent (Aurélien Recoing), a man who’s fired from his job and, unable to break the news to his family, decides not to. Instead, he dresses for work, heads out, and just kind of drifts aimlessly from place to place. The film explores the alienation that comes from pretending to be someone you’re not, observing as Vincent becomes increasingly unable to relate to his family and others in his life. The film grows eerier as it goes along, creating the suggestion that for Vincent there may be no way back to the life he knew. – Keith Phipps