Let’s face it. Animations are no longer just the stuff of charming fairy tales. Now audiences expect - and rightly so - inventive and clever films that bring adults as much delight as they do to kids. The result? Brilliant pop culture references and thoughtful parodies of the vagaries of modern life. Yup, it’s awesome. And there’s perhaps nothing as funny as when animated characters take on the world of work: you know, that (non-fictional) universe where we spend most of our waking hours. Here’s our list of features that we think have got it just right.
1. Storks (2016)
Believe it or not, the whole plot of Storks is based on a corporate ploy. The CEO of the Storks company decides that the making-and-delivering babies business is no longer profitable - and pivots the whole enterprise to focusing on delivery-only of products from Cornerstore.com.
It’s a clever reflection of our economy’s shift from brick-and-mortar to online retail, and along the way it teases plenty of the classic features of office life, such as silly charts, board meetings… and the joys of working in the mailroom.
Find Storks in On Demand > Movies > Virgin Movies
2. Wreck-it-Ralph (2012)
Wreck-it-Ralph is a beautiful celebration of old-school arcade games, but it also manages to sneak in some excellent work jokes. Each of the characters fulfils their game role like any day job, and then travels to other consoles at night to socialise. The Pixar film gets us to think about how our identity can irrationally meld with that of our professions: the game bad guys confess to feeling guilty - though they’re just harmlessly doing their jobs.
The plot also manages to convey that all skills are valuable, depending on the context. The amiable Fix-it-Felix hilariously can’t get himself out of a prison because he only knows how to repair things - whereas Ralph realises that his destructive powers can come in useful.
3. Monsters, Inc (2001)
The joke’s on energy companies in Monsters, Inc. Its two heroes, monsters Mike and Sully, collect the screams of children in order to power the electricity in Monstropolis. Their factory is peppered with ingenious spoofs, from the employee of the month competition, the terrifying administrative assistant, the gross locker rooms, and the weaselling Director. There’s even a dodgy money-making conspiracy.
In the end it turns out that children’s laughter produce way more energy than their fear. A subtle criticism of our often negative work culture? You decide.
Monsters, Inc. is available now on Sky Cinema Disney
4. Inside Out (2015)
The masterpiece that is Inside Out is all about how our emotions interact to spur us into action. Its creators however slipped in a few job jokes in as well. The emotions of Joy, Sadness, Anger, Disgust and Fear all work together over a giant console in a control room, which constantly gets upgraded as the main character, Riley, ages. The five colleagues spend much of their time arguing over who gets to take control of the commands - until they realise that their enterprise, aka Riley, is much better off when they come together as a team.
Inside Out is available now on Sky Cinema Disney
5. Zootropolis (2016)
In Zootropolis we follow the adventures of Judy Hopps, the first rabbit to graduate a police academy and to become a officer. In this world populated by anthropomorphic animals, predator and prey species are stereotyped into societal roles. It’s a skilful tale which addresses discrimination in the workplace, the distractions of social media and the charms and challenges of working in a big city. And it’s got possibly the best collection of puns, ever. We’re right there with you battling that grass ceiling, Judy.
Zootropolis is available now on Sky Cinema Disney
6. The Incredibles (2004)
The Incredibles sends up superhero films in a wonderful way, and in the same stroke manages to poke fun at how dreary office life can get. In a spot-on scene at the start of the story, Mr Incredible himself is stuck in a grey cubicle in an insurance job. He goes rogue by helping his clients fill out all the right forms, and escape the company’s punitive policies. It makes for a witty criticism of bureaucracy…
The Incredibles is available now on Sky Cinema Disney
7. A Bug’s Life (1998)
This early Pixar classic (okay, we are a little obsessed with Pixar) follows an ant colony as they collect grains to prepare for the winter ahead. Their harvest necessitates a very systematised work structure, through which the film manages to satirise herd mentality and over-complicated management. Thankfully, protagonist Flick has beautifully innovative ideas, which despite the ants’ suspicion, helps to save them all from their grasshopper shareholders, ahem, bullies.
A Bug’s Life is available now on Sky Cinema Disney
8. The LEGO Movie (2014)
The Lego Movie doesn’t even try to hide its inside jokes - the film is all one big spoof. After all, the villain is called President Business, and he both owns and rules the whole Lego universe. His tower is populated by office zombies, and the Lego instruction manuals that serve as laws are designed in a prison called the ‘Think Tank’. At the start Emmet, the hero, has a terrifyingly spooky joyful attitude to it all, but thankfully, things start shaking up, and the film turns into an awesome ode to creativity and fun.
Find The LEGO Movie in On Demand > Movies > Virgin Movies