Top 10 Movies Every MBA Should See

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Most MBA students have little time to devote to anything other than school and job searching and even less time to watch movies.

However, just as every professional golfer has seen CaddyShack and Tin Cup and every pilot has seen Top Gun and aeroplane, there is a core-curriculum of movies that every MBA student should see.

If you’re an MBA you need to see these movies because they apply to your profession of business, because they contain valuable lessons to be learned and because, frankly, you don’t want to be the only one left out of the joke at the meeting the next time your boss cracks a joke or quotes a line from one of these particular films. So, I’ve compiled a list of the Top 10 Movies Every MBA Should See. In this list we’ll hit all the finer points of being an MBA, including college life, finance, investments, supply chain, entrepreneurship and ethics.

This article was originally published on Neeley School MBA Voices and has been republished with the author’s permission.

10. Back to School – Starring Rodney Dangerfield and Sally Kellerman

Plot -- A self-made millionaire decides to go back to school to prove a point. However, because he's already a made man, all he focuses on is partying and having fun (um, what else is there?). Hilarity ensues as he dusts off his old swim trunks for the dive team!

Why it's an MBA Must? -- Getting geared up to go back to school is an exciting prospect for a new MBA student. We have the potential to relive those glory days that most of us remember from undergrad. You know, the all-night parties, the fountains of beer and unbridled debauchery that nowadays would require an online subscription and a shot of penicillin. Sadly though, most of us soon realise that we've somehow lost a step or two. We notice that those beers catch up with you in the morning, we actually have to stretch before intramural sports and pray we don't pull something, and we get cranky when people won't sit down during breaks at the football game--even though we're in the student section. Alas the actual MBA program may prove to be more business than pleasure., but it's still fun to think back on and have a little fun just one more time!

9. Wall Street (1&2) – Starring Michael Douglas and Charlie Sheen (Shia LaBeouf)

8. Boiler Room – Starring Ben Affleck, Vin Diesel and some other schmuck

7. The Insider – Starring Al Pacino and Russell Crowe

Plot -- The Insider is a quasi true story of a man on the inside of a company who is doing wrong. He decides to put an end to it and blow the whistle on the company. However, by doing so he risks his life and the safety of his family. He is faced with a choice of doing the right things and risking his life to do it or keeping his mouth shut.

Why it's an MBA Must? -- Business ethics pure and simple. As future leaders MBAs need integrity. It's a must and its non-negotiable integrity is either something you have or you don't. It means doing the right thing when it doesn't matter if you do the right thing or when the right thing is not the easiest thing to do. There is a simple way to test your integrity: Which is worse? Stealing a piece of bubble gum or stealing a million dollars from the corporate account? Do you know the answer?

6. Tucker: A Man and His Dream – Starring Jeff Bridges

Plot -- Another true story of Preston Tucker, the founder/designer/creator of the Tucker Automobile. Tucker was an entrepreneur who created a car and used his passion to briefly live the American Dream.

Why it's an MBA Must? -- This movie is full of the American Dream, the Land of Opportunity and the Entrepreneurial Spirit that many of us MBAs have. It's a feel good (kinda) film that will inspire you to follow your dreams and sacrifice to make them a reality. Entrepreneurship is not for the faint of heart but can be the most rewarding concentration of any of the MBA specialties.

5. Office Space – Starring Ron Livingston and Jennifer Aniston

Plot -- I'm not sure exactly? But it's funny! OK, I'll try. This comedy is about a guy who one day decides he's fed up and not going to put up with every day drone of the 9-to-5 anymore. So while everyone else is clocking in he's busy clocking out. Just trust me on this one, this movie is hysterically funny and will relate to anyone who has ever held an office job. The best business is funny business and there's no funnier business than Office Space.

Why it's an MBA Must? -- If you've ever gone to work and wanted to scream at the top of your lungs just how screwed up the place really is but didn't this is the movie for you. The funniest/scariest part of this movie is just exactly how real it actually is. This movie is an inside look at office politics at their finest. It's a case study in bad management and will give you an up close and personal look at exactly what consultants do. As MBAs, at one time in our past or some time in our future, we can all relate to this movie and thus it's perfect to be included on this list.

4. Glengarry Glen Ross – Starring Al Pacino, Kevin Spacey, Alec Baldwin, Jack Lemmon, Ed Harris and more

3. Smartest Guys in the Room – Featuring Kenneth Lay and Jeffery Skilling

Plot -- This is the only documentary on the list and boy is it good. Produced by billionaire Mark Cuban, it's an in-depth look at the mega fraud and downfall of what was ENRON, the biggest failure in the history of business. See how it happened and all the crooked things ENRON and its executives were doing to cover it up. Its fascinating! The things you see in this documentary leave no doubt that big business can be evil. It's scary because it is true!

Why it's an MBA Must? -- It's real life lesson in business ethics. It makes you think and be cautious of things that seem too good to be true. This film is not only a good watch but it's almost a class in itself and thus important because it actually happened. This film is a must for any MBA and will remain with you and cause you to really think about the difference in doing things right and doing the right things!

2. Citizen Kane – Starring and directed by Orson Welles

Plot -- Widely considered the greatest movie of all time, this classic is about the rise of newspaper tycoon Charles Foster Kane. Kane is a man who starts with good intentions but gets consumed by the pursuit of power. Citizen Kane takes you through a series of flashbacks as a reporter tries to unravel the mystery of the tycoon's dying words.

Why it's an MBA Must? -- Not only is it widely considered the best movie in American film history, it's also the best business movie in history. Coincidentally, the movie teaches a lesson to any and every potential MBA about the dangers of the path that we are already on! This movie is an American classic and there really is no excuse for not having seen it but now that you're a business student you even more or a reason and less of an excuse.

Before we reveal the No. 1 must-see movie for every MBA, let's recap what we now know:

1. It's a Wonderful Life – Starring Jimmy Stewart and Donna Reed

Plot -- Good hearted man George Bailey is down in the dumps. His entire life's work is on the verge of crashing down. In the pit of despair he contemplates suicide. But before he can act on his impulse he is visited by his guardian angel who takes him on a ride to show him what the world would have been like without good ole George. He sees that life is more than about work and money and when you look at it that way it truly is a wonderful life!

Why it's an MBA Must? -- As another American film classic you really should have already seen this one too as Jimmy Stewart and Donna Reed typically make us feel good around Christmas time. But this story really contains at its root the most important lesson a business man or woman can learn. We MBA types can easily get lost in the pursuit of money, and we delve into work and put aside life itself searching for profits. It's an easy trap to fall into but it is imperative that every MBA keep things in perspective. Money is really not what's important in life and no job is worth dying over. In the end our family and friends are truly what's important and it doesn't matter if we have a good job or are filthy rich or unemployed, life itself is the real prize of living and we should never forget it!

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