Skip to main content

Seven Movies to Motivate You

Seven Movies to Motivate You

When it comes to inducing instant, effective inspiration for about $4 per rental, movies are king. Go on, say you weren't ready to slap on the gloves and get in the ring after watching Rocky -- liar.

Given their powers of motivation, movies might be just what the doctor ordered if you're starting to feel your momentum slow down at the office, or your job search seems like it's going nowhere. Try one of these movies to rev you up and get you back in the saddle.

Norma Rae

A small-town southern girl unionizes factory workers against dangerous and callous management in a movie that would make Jimmy Hoffa weep with admiration (wherever he is). Based on real events in which a little girl takes on the big, nasty establishment, this one ends in triumph for the downtrodden worker.

A Civil Action

A lawyer played by John Travolta wages a seemingly hopeless battle for justice against a company suspected of poisoning a town's water supply, losing his shirt, office and coworkers in his blind obsession with winning the case. A lawyer who shrugs off money in the interest of winning a case for its moral implications? Now that's inspiring.

Gung Ho

After a Japanese firm buys the car manufacturer he works for, a young Michael Keaton has to keep his faithful workers happy under the demands of new management. Immersed in allegory about work and fulfillment, this one is all about jobs: keeping vs. losing them, white collar vs. blue collar and American vs. foreign work ethic. See it to restore your faith in the idea that you can balance a strenuous career, life and family.

Tommy Boy

A Chris Farley character squeezed into a business suit and asked not to screw up something hugely important? Are you kidding? Though he seems destined for failure when forced to become a salesman in a serious hurry to save his dad's business, the blundering Tommy Boy proves that anyone can find success with heart and ingenuity, even against a sinister Dan Akroyd.

The Secret of My Success

In the lighthearted romance, everything-will-turnout-all-right category, this film stars a "Family Ties"-esque Michael J. Fox in the story of a mailroom worker who poses as a top-level exec at a titanic corporation to woo one of the real executives. Cheesy, contrived, outlandish and oh-so-nostalgically '80s, it's still hard not to be charmed when Fox takes down the greedy bad guys.

Stand and Deliver

A true story of persistence and achievement in the face of unrelenting apathy and difficulty, this one pits a resilient math teacher against a troupe of underprivileged high schoolers hell-bent on the idea that school is pointless. Transforming his students from gang members and dropouts to high-level calculus aces, Edward James Olmos portrays an inspiring figure for teachers facing stereotypes and kids who only appear to fit them.

Erin Brockovich

Like some dressed-down Mother Teresa with a license to swear, the heroine of this based-on-real-events movie is a lawyer's assistant unafraid to use her sassy personality and, um, other assets to cut through the typical bull of legalese and win millions for the wronged. Not your typical single-mom-versus-a-colossal-energy-conglomerate flick, but a good one.

And if you're lacking the motivation to get motivated, these films could help you feel better about your idleness.

Education programs to fit your profession