A Compliant Night at the Movies
We might not be in charge of handing out little gold statues at the Oscars, but if we were, we’d start by awarding the “Best Depiction of Ethics and Compliance Themes” category. If you’re looking for some movies to really psych you up about being a compliance pro, take a look at our top picks.
Source: Mystery Science Theater
The Nightmare Before Christmas [SPOILERS]
🎃 Selected by Kristen Barnett, Broadcat Designer
The Nightmare Before Christmas tells the story of Jack Skellington, the Pumpkin King, who is tired of running Halloween year after year. One day, he sneaks away from Halloween Town and discovers Christmas Town. He falls in love with the idea of Christmas and gets the fellow monsters of Halloweentown to go along with his idea of having Christmas for the year.
The town doesn’t have an ethics and compliance office, but this movie proves that it certainly needs one! If it did, then they could have pointed out to Jack how trying to shift from the Pumpkin King to Santa Claus was a conflict of interest for Halloween Town.
Here are some of the other things Jack Skellington does in the movie that would have had a compliance officer wishing for their Christmas vacation to come early:
- Went to a competitor (Christmas Town) and improperly gathered intelligence on them in what could be considered a massive privacy breach.
- Goes against the culture and values set in Halloween Town and reassigns them all to work on Christmas-related projects.
- Dismisses the concerns of fellow monsters who speak up about Jack's behavior.
- Engages in several human rights violations by organizing Santa Claus’ kidnapping from Christmas Town so that Jack can be Santa for the night.
- Doesn’t do his research on third parties and hires unreliable kidnappers who hand over Santa to another client.
To Jack’s credit, he does try to fix things, but since there’s no helpline in Halloween Town, he has to conduct his own investigation to set things right, putting himself and others in peril.
Tl;dr: Halloween Town needs an ethics and compliance team to investigate the Pumpkin King’s reign of terror on Christmas, and Christmas Town needs a privacy team that can manage breaches the next time a singing skeleton wanders in and tries to steal their secrets.
🛰️ Selected by Kitty Holt, Broadcat’s Director of Operations
Jim (Chris Pratt) and Aurora (Jennifer Lawrence) are among more than 5,000 passengers who have decided to leave Earth to establish a new home on the Homestead Colony. Passengers on the spacecraft Avalon are put into a deep sleep, which is supposed to last until Avalon reaches the end of its journey. Unfortunately, Jim’s sleeping pod malfunctions and he wakes up all alone and realizes that he will be dead by the time the spaceship arrives on the new planet in about 90 years.
After a while, he notices beautiful Aurora sleeping in her pod and develops an obsession with her. The knowledge that he will be without any human interaction whatsoever for the rest of his life leads him to consider waking Aurora up prematurely—although he knows it’s the wrong thing to do as it will also cause her to die before arriving on the Homestead Colony.
He is in anguish as he grapples with this ethical dilemma. No spoilers here (although the trailer includes some), so watch it for yourself. Then ask yourself, if you were in Jim’s shoes, what would you do? What should you do?
🏦 Selected by Alex Klingelberger, Broadcat’s Chief Executive Officer
This instant classic is a thinly veiled allusion to the bankruptcy of Lehman Brothers, and it resonates with me because it takes me back to my time as the CFO of a regional investment banking firm.
On the day Lehman Brothers filed for bankruptcy, it was a day of stark terror (but not the last one in the succeeding months). My mentor, a Lehman alumnus, exhibited a look of disbelief. The music had stopped playing, and it was suddenly unclear anyone had a chair. “Where were you when Lehman went bankrupt?” is a question I’ve been asked on multiple occasions.
Watching the movie felt too close to home until recently, but Jeremy Irons’ portrait of Dick Fuld reads as sublimely accurate. The question about “how many employees do we have in risk management?” feels like one every CEO asks at the point of crisis. Clearly, when it gets to that point, it’s too late.
📱 Selected by Jaycee Dempsey, Broadcat’s Director of Customer Success
This film doesn’t take itself too seriously, but it perfectly captures how legal requirements and human behavior don’t always align. We all fear being overly reliant on our phones, and in the midst of today’s data security/AI s***storm 💩, this one really hits home.
One of the first scenes where Phil (Adam DeVine) starts up his new phone and blindly accepts the terms of service is so relatable, it’s scary. It justifiably didn’t win any Oscars, but it's a funny, casual watch worth checking out.
🤫And if you’re somewhere private, the full NSFW scene is here. Enjoy!
My bonus pick: The Wolf of Wall Street. I don’t think this one needs any explanation.
Edge of Tomorrow [SPOILERS]
👾 Selected by Jennifer May, Broadcat’s Director of Compliance Advisory
Hot take: It’s Groundhog Day in an alien war. Clearly not a plot that normally evokes a lot of ethical drama (and the movie doesn’t get into the ethics of it either) but there are a lot of interesting moral dilemmas that both Tom Cruise’s and Emily Blunt’s characters face as they deal with this unique situation. Actually, if you want to see a more thorough dive into the ethical dilemmas of reliving the same day, watch Groundhog Day instead (maybe I should have reviewed that one… 🤔).
Try to put yourself in their shoes for a second: If you had to live the same day over and over, what would be the first thing you’d try to do? As Cruise’s Major William Cage does, he attempts to save the other members of his squad. At some point it becomes obvious that he’s not going to be able do that, so he has to let fate take over (ethical dilemma #1).
But it’s not just his squadmates: Major Cage repeatedly sacrifices himself to try to get far enough into the day to defeat this enemy. Cage ultimately gets fed up and gives up trying (ethical dilemma #2). He ends up in a bar where a group of people call him a coward for not fighting. Clearly this taunting impacts him, but he’s tried so many times to no avail that he ignores the rebuff. He’s beaten and is done… That is, of course, until the aliens show up and he realizes that if he doesn't finish this, he’ll never get out of the loop.
So, back to the grind he goes and he teams up with Blunt’s Rita Vrataski, who was previously able to reset the day but has lost that ability—which means she knows that her next battle will be her last. When she meets Cage, she now has a second chance. Instead of sending him off to get the job done alone, she commits to training him. But remember: With each new day, she has no idea who he is, requiring blind trust and a willingness to “die” repeatedly. She trains him while knowing full well it will put him through the same mental hell she experienced (ethical dilemma #3) but it’s the only way to save humanity.
Morality and ethical questions all wrapped up in an alien war candy-coating!
Grab your popcorn and enjoy! 🍿