- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 29, 2006

The workplace tyrant — like, for example, Meryl Streep’s Miranda Priestly in the new “The Devil Wears Prada” — is a cliche as old as Hollywood itself. Don’t get us wrong: We take as much vicarious pleasure as the next drone in the sight of a screen martinet getting his or her comeuppance. But try to understand: It’s not always easy to be a benevolent boss — not when you have to deal with incompetent or attitudinally challenged employees like those below.

Randal Graves — Jeff Anderson’s turn as a slacker video-store lackey in “Clerks” exemplifies the form: Rude. Cynical. Contemptuous. That is, if he bothered showing up at all.

John Winger Incompetence and bad attitudes, of course, aren’t exclusive to the private sector or civilian life. Recall Bill Murray’s classic authority-tweaking Army enlistee in “Stripes.”

Carl Taylor and James St. James — Charlie Sheen and Emilio Estvez teamed as shiftless garbagemen in 1990’s great-bad comedy “Men at Work.”

Lane Meyer — John Cusack’s terminally misunderstood loser in 1985’s “Better Off Dead” couldn’t even hold a job flipping beef patties in a burger joint.

Lloyd Christmas and Harry Dunne —As a pair of Rhode Island flunkies in 1994’s “Dumb and Dumber,” Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels are quickly fired from, respectively, limo-driver and dog-grooming jobs. One got the sense that this was only the tip of the iceberg of those employment histories.

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