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The Super-Duper Best Accounting Movies of All Time

Key Takeaways

It’s a takeover! Off the Books producer Mike Gravagno takes the microphone, yo (see what we did there), and we’ll never be the same. It’s an episode unlike any other. Check it out.


Mike: Hello, and welcome to Off the Books, where we surf the uncharted waters of accounting, finance, risk, and wherever else the waves take us. This episode is brought to you by Workiva, the risk, reporting, and compliance platform that simplifies your complex work and supplies you with all the right Oscar predictions for the next five years. Check it out at My name is Mike Gravagno, Off the Books producer, recovering Cherry Coke addict, and today's host. I'm looking forward to debiting a great conversation today, and I'm very glad to have you hanging ten with us.

Catherine: Wait, wait, wait, wait. What's happening?

Mike: What do you mean?

Steve: I thought this was a team meeting.

Mike: It's a team meeting in the sense that I got jealous of hearing you read the intro all the time, so I wanted to read it. And Oscar season is upon us, and there's dozens of important accounting movies. So I thought we should do a fun show with us, but I'm in control.

Steve: What?

Catherine: OK, man, you unplug your head headphones for a second --

Mike: Yeah, you got to get up pretty early to get in the Off the Book studio ahead of me. I've been producing all of season three. I love the show. I just want to shake it up and have some fun and talk about accounting movies.

Steve: Episode shaken, not stirred. We can do this thing.

Mike: I bet we could do a Bond movie. There's probably accounting in one of those 80 billion movies, but warning: Bond will not be on here. So dear listener, you're go-to Off the Books hosts are here. We have Catherine Tsai, we have Steve Soter, and we're going to do a bracket where we whittle down 32 accounting movies to the eight movies we will watch through the rest of the year.

Steve: Thirty-two accounting movies? Are there 32 accounting movies in existence?

Mike: I only fudged a little. I'd say there's 28 accounting movies in existence, but brackets need divisible by eight.

Steve: OK, OK, fair. So so hold on. I'm still sidelined. I thought we were just going to be like catching up and, you know, small talk like our normal team meetings. Tell me what exactly -- there's brackets? We're deciding which is the best? How do we lay this thing out?

Mike: Using the best bracket platform out there, That's challenge with an O. I have laid out the thirty-two movies seeded by cumulative — I'm saying a lot of number-based words that I don't know the meaning of. I'm not a numbers guy. That's you, Steve.

Steve: Yes, love it.

Mike: Cumulative ratings combined from IMDB and Letterboxd, and that's how they were seeded from one to 32.

Steve: OK, but those are ratings on just how good people think the movie is. Definitely not how accounting it is right?

Mike: You know, I looked for that, and that ranking system is not out there.

Steve: So starting now, movies will have an OTB score, an OTB accounting movie score. If you're really good, you get four Diet Cokes. If it sucks you get one Diet Coke?

Mike: Exactly. I like that a lot, and then people can start a forum. This will be the whole new thing.

Catherine: This sounds suspiciously like your podcast that you do away from Off the Books, Mike.

Steve: Yes.

Mike: OK. Full disclose. This is not an original idea. I host Movie of the Year for YourPopFilter productions. I am one of the co-hosts on there, and then this is our format. Every season we dive into a different year. So 1991 is the most recent year we did. And so this is what we do. The first episode we take 32 films down to eight that we'll watch through the season. And so I went hey, don't fix what's broke. I'm just going to do that on Off the Books.

Catherine: OK. All right. I'm down, or up.

Steve: This works.

Mike: Before we dive in, and if you have other questions or small talk, you want to get in small talk, Steve, we can definitely do that. How are accountants generally portrayed in pop culture would you guys say?

Steve: You know, it's interesting. We had a conversation with Mike Whitmire recently, CEO of FloQast, and he had a lot to say about that. He would tell you that in real life, they are real people, some weirdos, some funny people, some boring people, and everything in between. But professionally, they are certainly not portrayed that way, and I think he sees that as a bad thing, and I would tend to agree with him. I don't know. Catherine, what do you think? You hang out with a lot of accountants.

Catherine: Do I?

Mike: Like an accountant groupie. Yeah.

Catherine: I'm curious to see what qualifies as an accounting movie in your eyes, Mike.

Steve: Yes.

Mike: Oh. If there is at least a scene that heavily involves an accountant saying accounting type things. So part of what we're going to do to figure out the eight movies is we don't necessarily about quality of movies. I care about quality of movies. I don't know what you guys care about, but you can shut it down. We're going to be voted. Three people is the perfect way to vote. So we will be going through. There's going to be tiebreakers. I'm going to, for each battle, do a short description about each movie, we'll discuss, and then we'll bring it to a vote, and that moves on through the bracket.

Steve: OK.

Catherine: Cannot wait.

Steve: Let's do this thing.

Mike: Round one battle one. Number one seed, The Shawshank Redemption, possibly the most famous movie on our list, The Shawshank Redemption tells the tale of an accountant, Andy Dufresne, who gets falsely imprisoned. Yeah, he gets falsely imprisoned for the murder of his wife and her lover. The movie shows how he tries to get through the brutal life of prison by using his financial prowess. So that's how that's accounting. It is going up against our number 32 seed. Possibly the worst movie on our list. Strike it Rich. Starring Molly Ringwald and Robert Lindsay, the movie follows a young accountant who starts gambling to pay for his honeymoon in Monte Carlo. Hilarity ensues?

Steve: OK, now because I don't want to look terribly lame, even though I really am. I'm actually not going to tell the audience which movies I have seen and which I haven't. They'll probably figure that out really quick. I thought in Shawshank he was a banker, not an accountant. Am I missing something here?

Catherine: Oh.

Steve: Does this get disqualified right off the bat? I mean, it's the number one seed. I feel like I'm torpedoing this whole thing.

Mike: The number one seed also, full disclozh — and this is not the most popular opinions. I think Shawshank Redemption sucks.

Catherine: What?

Mike: It is saccharine. It is everything that's wrong with movies.

Catherine: Come on. No, Mike. Also, I find it adorable, that's the wrong word, that you say full disclose instead of full disclosure.

Mike: Look, I'm very busy, Catherine. I got to chop some parts off words.

Steve: Not have time for those long words. Well, look, I mean, if we've got to be quick, we got to get through 32, I'm going to tell you it, Strike It Rich. And I'm going to say because I am pretty certain he was a banker, not an accountant. So crappy Strike It Rich might be, I think that wins by default.

Mike: I don't know if it's crappy. I just know not even Molly Ringwald has seen it. Nobody's seen this 1992 film.

Steve: OK.

Mike: My vote is going to be Shawshank just based on, you know, reputation. And I don't know the difference between bankers and accountants. It's all numbers and money to me. Catherine, you're going to have to break this tie.

Catherine: Oh my goodness, I have to vote for Shawshank Redemption because I don't want to watch Strike It Rich.

Steve: Unbelievable. Unbelievable. All right.

Mike: All right. Shawshank moves on. No surprises yet, except that maybe he was a banker, not an accountant.

Steve: Disqualified.

Mike: Battle two Round one. Lethal Weapon 2. The sequel Buddy cop film. Riggs and Murtaugh have to protect the federal witness and former mob accountant played by Joe Pesci. The same time, they're on the trail of South African diplomats who are using their immunity to engage in criminal activities. Hilarity does in fact ensue. It's going up against the 17th seed, The Royal Tenenbaums. Wes Anderson's 2001 opus sees a stacked cast playing eccentric family members coming back together for the first time in years. Danny Glover plays their accountant and Mamma Tenenbaum's new lover.

Steve: So how much accounting actually is going on in Lethal Weapon 2 with Joe Pesci?

Mike: My loose memory, because I don't think I've seen this since the '90s, and just how movies work, I think we are going to see a scene of him in the beginning doing mob accounting before he runs away. And then maybe he'll talk about accounting sprinkled throughout in a My Cousin Vinny style personality.

Steve: It would be interesting to get somebody's definition when you say "and he talks accounting sprinkled throughout." What exactly do we consider "talk accounting"? Like, Hey, we're out of money, or Hey, we need to get more money? Does that really qualify as like talking accounting?

Mike: The SEC is after us. You got to hide the books.

Steve: Pretty sure the SEC --

Mike: Actuaries!

Steve: Actuaries. That's not even accounting. OK, well, all right, that's Lethal Weapon 2. Before I jump in, Catherine, what questions do you have? What am I missing here?

Catherine: How central is accounting to the plot?

Steve: Excellent question.

Mike: I would say it's the inciting incident. He's under witness protection because he was their accountant and bailed. Where I love Wes Anderson and Royal Tenenbaums, you know, I'm unfortunately a white man in my 30s, which means I have to worship Wes Anderson. I'm going to say Danny Glover's accountant doesn't -- accounting is not germane to the plot of The Royal Tenenbaums,

Steve: Really. Because I just felt like accounting and calling Joe Pesci the mob accountant was just a stereotype for this short, slightly obnoxious but still funny -- and you could use that to describe me all day, every day. Right. But I just felt like, Hey, what do we call Joe Pesci? Call him an accountant. That'll all kind of play together, right?

Mike: Accountant does seem like one of those words where like, "well, everybody needs a job. He'll be an accountant. We don't need to really get into it."

Catherine: Which movie features a CPA. And you're saying Lethal Weapon 2 does not?

Steve: Well, it's not so much about whether or not -- I think it gets back to how central is accounting to the plot versus do we need to stereotype somebody? So we're just going to call them an accountant, right? Do they need a job? And we think accountants are small and obnoxious. So therefore, Joe Pesci is going to be an accountant in this role. But based on that description, I would just lead off, I think I would say Lethal Weapon 2. That actually wasn't my initial thought. But you've talked me into it. I don't know, Mike, if that's what you're voting for, but I think that's my vote. And I think it's your vote too actually.

Mike: Oh, I mean, you are the boss normally. So I think I'm leaning towards going with you. But no, I'm fighting against it. I'm the boss today. This is my show. And you know what, I hate Mel Gibson. I love Joe Pesci, and Steve, I never put it together that you are the Joe Pesci of our little crew.

Steve: Crap. Please don't put that together.

Mike: Your beanie's constantly lighting on fire. You have all kinds of fights with 10 year olds. My vote is Royal Tenenbaums. Catherine, what do you say?

Catherine: Royal Tenenbaums. Next.

Mike: I knew that was going to be yours. OK. Next up is Battle three. We have a number eight seed, The Producers from 1967. Mel Brooks' directorial debut follows a theater producer and his accountant who, as part of a scam, have to stage the worst stage musical they can create. They eventually find one, of course, centered around Adolf Hitler. It's going against our number 25 seed Hitch, where Will Smith is a smooth relationship expert who falls for Eva Mendez while helping a shy accountant woo an heiress.

Steve: I really want to see Hitch win this one because I love Albert Brennaman, that's the character played by Kevin James, thank you. I really want to see Hitch win this one. But go ahead. Go ahead.

Mike: I was gonna say what I like about this is, in thinking about Mike Whitmire's problem with accounting stereotypes, he had very interesting things to say about the accountant in the Office. I think Kevin James, he starts off various different stereotypical pop culture accountant, and then he grows and changes. It shows that they are human. Yes?

Steve: Yes. But is the starting place fair, right? I mean, you know, he's got like an ill fitting suit. There's that scene where he's like eating a hot dog. It's like mustard all over and he's trying to wipe it off and like, use his soda or whatever. I mean, it's just like a dumpster fire. He's a train wreck. I mean, is that what Hollywood thinks of accountants? Is that why we thought we would call him a CPA?

Mike: It's clearly what Hollywood thinks of accountants.

Steve: Yeah. Catherine, what do you think?

Catherine: Oh man, I just want to be the tie breaker. You guys decide.

Mike: But what is your general vibe right now, The Producers versus Hitch? Do you have any personal experience with any of these movies? Steve apparently has Hitch memorized.

Steve: It's a great movie. You know what? My wife loves the movie.

Catherine: Oh, wow. I have no experience with either movie, but it seems like The Producers sounds like more of an accounting movie, I don't know.

Mike: It is about like cooking the books and some sort of -- and in my head, my stereotype for accountants growing up, and probably because I've just watched mob movies and stuff, is not the Kevin James getting hot dog all over his ill fitting suit. It is down and dirty cooking books,

Steve: I mean, this is a lose lose situation. You know, if we had Mike Whitmire on this thing, he would crucify us for this conversation we are having right now. So I'll go out on a limb here. I would say The Producers. As much as I love Hitch and I want Hitch to win because I admire the fact that at least the stereotype requires some accounting knowledge, which you kind of have to do to cook the books in most cases. Don't agree with it. Don't believe in it. But that feels more accounting to me than Kevin James with mustard on his ill fitting suit. So I'd say Producers.

Mike: That feels like the Kevin James stereotype. Kevin James is going to Kevin James wherever he is.

Steve: I agree.

Mike: You know what, Steve? For the first time in our long career together, we agree. Yes, I'm going to go with The Producers.

Steve: Excellent. Catherine, your vote has now just become irrelevant, but what do you think?

Catherine: Oh, The Producers works I think, right?

Mike: Right. Next battle. Our ninth seed Midnight Run. Robert De Niro, Charles Grodin, the story of a furious hunter chasing his accountant who not just stole $50 million from him but also skipped out on a $450,000 bail posted for him. What else do you need? It's up against our 24th seed. All the queen's horses. A documentary telling the story of Rita Crundwell, the perpetrator of the largest case of municipal fraud in American history, and asks the age old question How could one woman steal $53 million without anybody noticing? It's our first documentary in our bracket.

Steve: Yeah, and this one is, I mean, this is the easiest one we've had. It's All the Queen's Horses hands down. No question. Discussion over.

Mike: You don't like Charles Grodin?

Steve: I have nothing wrong with Charles Grodin, but who I love is Kelly Richmond Pope, who is the filmmaker of all the Queen's horses, who's actually done events for Workiva, for the SOX Professionals Group. We know the filmmaker actually quite well, and she's awesome and the film is awesome. And as much as I love Midnight Run and turning all these accountants into thieves or whatever, I see no way that accounting actually even plays into that movie.

Mike: No, this is another clear case of Grodin's got to have a job. I guess he was De Niro's accountant.

Steve: Makes sense. So anyway, just my vote. All the Queen's horses hands down.

Mike: Catherine, which way are you leaning?

Catherine: Based on that description, it's going to be all the Queen's horses.

Mike: So he dropped the director's name, personal relationships ---

Steve: You know she listens fanatically to Off the Books, right? I don't want to upset Dr. Pope.

Mike: This next battle: two hard hitting comedies from the 80s. Possibly my favorite movie on the list is our number four seed Ghostbusters. Four parapsychologists. Yes, this is the first movie I thought of when I was like accounting movies? It's got to be Ghostbusters. If you don't know, listeners, four parapsychologists are forced out of their university funding to set up shop as a unique ghost removal service in New York City, attracting frightened yet skeptical customers. And Rick Moranis plays a CPA who gets possessed. It's going up against our 29th seed Look Who's Talking. After a single career minded account is left on her own to give birth to the child of a married man, she finds a new romantic chance in a cab driver, and the whole thing is narrated by Bruce Willis as a baby.

Steve: The Bruce Willis narrating is adorable. I mean, I don't know if that's quite the word I should have used, but that's great.

Mike: I mean, it's Kirstie Alley and John Travolta at the top of their games.

Steve: But there's no accounting. There's no accounting in Look Who's Talking.

Mike: I say there's no accounting for taste.

Steve: I mean, Catherine, again, you're the voice of reason here. What am I missing? If there's no accounting and all you have in Ghostbusters is Rick Moranis playing Louis Tully sharing some tax advice at that party scene right before the dog comes in, and, you know, then he gets possessed. Turns into the keymaster I believe. I would say that those few words about, you know, tax credits or write offs or whatever he was talking about, I think that's what wins. But again, what are we missing here?

Catherine: That qualifies, right. Isn't that what most people think of when they think of accountants?

Steve: The third stereotype!

Mike: People have parties just to write it off.

Steve: Well, and actually we keep going back to Mike, but that's actually one of the things he comments. That's a pet peeve for me. I don't like taxes. I don't do my own taxes. But you know, I was an accountant for a lot of years. That's the third stereotype, right? Oh, all accountants must be, you know, tax accountants. They must be really busy coming into March and April. Right?

Mike: So if this continues on, we have the chance to really dig into the stereotypes and fight against them if we talk about the movie. My vote is Ghostbusters

Steve: I would totally agree with Ghostbusters. Catherine.

Catherine: Three out of three agree.

Steve: Bam! Nice. And who doesn't want to see Ghostbusters? I mean, Look Who's Talking, fine. But if you had an excuse to watch Ghostbusters, especially for like a work related thing, I say that in air quotes for our audience, why wouldn't you watch Ghostbusters, right?

Mike: Where else can we talk about Ghost f- in a work setting than if we talk about Ghostbusters

Catherine: Earmuffs, everybody earmuffs.

Mike: Sorry, that's the Movie the Year energy coming. All right. Next battle. Number 13 Seed is Trading places where a snobbish investor and a wily street con artist find their positions reversed as part of a bet by two callous millionaires. It's going against Boiler Room. Number 20 Seed. The most famous movie about Jordan Belfort. It follows a college dropout attempting to live up to his father's high standards, gets a job as a broker for a suburban investment firm, which puts him on the fast track to success. The job might not be as legitimate as it first appeared.

Mike: OK.

Mike: Have you guys seen Boiler Room?

Catherine: I have. Yes.

Steve: I will neither confirm nor deny.

Catherine: Are we tying investing to accounting?

Steve: Well, so I'm going to torpedo this whole thing. He wasn't an accountant in either movie, not in Trading Places or in Boiler Room. So I would actually call this a draw because both are disqualified. There is no accounting whatsoever.

Mike: No accounting.

Mike: OK.

Mike: Because how brackets work, we need one to move forward. It will not be watched and it will get destroyed in the next battle.

Catherine: Wait, does this mean that Hitch and Lethal Weapon 2 are back in?

Mike: OK, whoa. Unprecedented. Catherine, which one do you want to put back in the game?

Catherine: Oh no. I'm looking in Steve's eyes right now. And I think he's saying, Hitch? I don't know.

Steve: I'm going to close my eyes. Don't base it on -- what movie do you want to watch?

Catherine: I really want to watch Lethal Weapon 2.

Mike: Done.

Steve: There it is.

Mike: If later I forget and say Trading Places, that just means Lethal Weapon 2. But the way Challonge works, I can't change that name right now while I'm tracking all the battles.

Steve: Well, we are going to press pause on this conversation about movies and take a quick break from Mike's tyranny

Steve: to hear a word from our sponsor.

Steve: Hey, Catherine, what is going on with Mike? Did you put a Red Bull in his coffee this morning?

Catherine: I don't know. He spikes his coffee on his own.

Steve: Oh, I don't know how to explain whatever this team meeting just became in this movie episode. Unbelievable. Why don't we get to a message from our sponsor? And hopefully Mike's calmed down by the time we get back.

Mike: Today's episode of Off the books is brought to you by Workiva. If you're at all like me, you are a nerdy kid who loved Greek mythology, hung out with the lunch ladies, and didn't have enough friends to actually play Dungeons and Dragons. What? I did not just reveal some light childhood trauma. No, this is all leading some -- fine. So dear listener, the Greek myth of Sisyphus describes Hades punishing the tyrant Sisyphus in the afterlife by making him roll a heavy boulder up a steep hill. What he gets said boulder to the top of the hill, it rolls right back down to the bottom. A repetitive and useless task that drains the spirit. Maybe the act of repeatedly filling out the same reports and tracking down the right numbers feels like your own personal boulder. But unlike Sisyphus, you don't have to do it alone. The Workiva platform lets you automate repetitive tasks, orchestrates workflows, and turns your data and reports into reusable assets. So when you're at the top of the hill, take a breath and soak in that view. Discover all the benefits of using Workiva at That's

Catherine: Steve, are you ready to go back in there? Are you ready for more movie abuse from Mike?

Steve: No, I don't want any more movie abuse. I'm still not even sure what the heck we're doing. I thought this was a team meeting.

Mike: Our next battle. Number five seed is Office Space. Yeah, I'm going to need you to watch this Mike Judge comedy about programmers who try to steal fractions of cents from the company while prepping for Y2K. And I think Milton is an accountant in it. It's going up against a 28 seed, Central Intelligence. After he reconnects with an awkward pal from high school through Facebook, a mild mannered accountant is lord in the world of international espionage, and I believe this is Kevin Hart and The Rock.

Steve: It is. Kevin Hart's exceptionally short, not unlike Joe Pesci. Shocker. He's an accountant.

Mike: Like you!

Steve: Thank you for that.

Mike: So this is the one stereotype I believe, that accountants are tiny.

Steve: That's the fourth stereotype that we have observed here.

Mike: I think if you grow up short, you have two routes. If you're athletic, you're a jockey. If you're not, you're going to be an accountant.

Steve: Aren't Air Force pilots --

Mike: Is this rude to short people?

Steve: Extremely, but aren't Air Force pilots exceptionally short as well so they can, like, fit in the cockpit?

Mike: That's true. Well, you can't be too tall to be an Air Force pilot.

Steve: Apparently, there's more options than one. I guess that doesn't apply to like Formula One racing or NASCAR or anything. We don't have to go down that route. So here's what I would say. I still don't see how accounting comes into Office Space. Like there's fraud there, and that's a thing.

Catherine: Are TPS reports a thing in real life?

Mike: Probably. They just call them OKR reports or whatever these acronyms are. I'm going to blame, for the ones that are like, are these accounting movies, it's my lack of knowledge. Plus the internet, because there are, not ranked, but there are like best accounting movie lists out there. And some of these were on there. And I don't have the field expertise to be like, no. So when accounting movies dot net slash org said Office Space, I went, OK, I'll put Office Space on this list.

Steve: Well, my reaction would be Central Intelligence wins on a technicality because Kevin Hart is an accountant, plays an accountant. I think it's still unclear on Office Space, but maybe I'm missing something.

Mike: I think my vote for office space, other than that it's one of the best comedies ever made, somebody in that big boring company has to be an accountant. Catherine, break the tie.

Catherine: This is hard.

Steve: Is it? You don't want to see Central Intelligence. I don't think this is hard at all. I think this is the easiest one you've done so far.

Catherine: All right. Office space.

Steve: There it is.

Mike: Moving right along. Our number 12. Oh no, this is a head to head. When I wrote this down, "This is going to blow Steve's mind." Our number 12 seed. Enron: the smartest guys in the room. Our second doc. The story that completely shook up the accounting world and took down one of the largest accounting firms in the world versus our 21 seed, the Wizard of Lies. Bobby De Niro plays Bernie Madoff, whose ponzi scheme robbed $65 billion, the largest fraud in U.S. history.

Steve: Crap.

Mike: Do you want the documentary or like the biopic?

Steve: Well, I know what the answer is. It's Smartest Guys in the Room. Hands down. Like a bunch of guys I went to graduate school with studied accounting. Like we all got together when that movie came out. It was like a thing. We had our premiere party.

Mike: Llike a movie night?

Steve: Yes, I've read the book multiple times. We actually had Sherron Watkins, the Enron whistleblower, join us for an SEC Pro event or a SOX pro a couple of years ago. I am all about that scandal, all about Enron. I find it fascinating. So to me, that's a winner. Hands down. But it's hard because the Wizard of Lies is great. It's a great documentary. I don't know how much accounting there is, but you know, I don't want to pooh pooh that movie.

Mike: Yeah, otherwise Bobby De Niro might run after you his very slow CGI ways these days. Catherine, what are you feeling? Which kind of scandal do you want?

Mike: The big company scandal, or Madoff?

Catherine: It's got to be the smartest guys in the room.

Mike: All right. The smartest guys in the room move on.

Steve: Yes.

Mike: When you come into brackets, you don't want to put your thumb on the scale and say anything. I think this is the movie that takes the whole thing down once we watch all the movies and then rank them together. This is my guess is that this is the winner.

Steve: I would tend to agree, but we'll let the process go forward and see where it all lands.

Mike: It's got to go forward. Otherwise, what are we doing here? Just not having team meetings?

Steve: Not having a team meeting, that's for sure.

Mike: All right. Your next battle, your number two seed, the Wolf of Wall Street, another Martin Scorsese, another Jordan Belfort. As Jordan rises up through the world of stockbroking, it's got drugs. It's got crime. It's got corruption. Everything you expect from off the books. It's going up against our 18th seed, Same Time Next Year, where a married accountant and a housewife end up sleeping with each other and decide to meet at the same place every year on the anniversary of their one night stand. So romantic. My guess right now, based on the episode so far, Steve is going to say I don't want to, but I think I have to vote for same time next year because though there is numbers and money and crime, there's no accounting in the wolf of Wall Street. Am I correct?

Steve: You are correct. But here's what I would say. This is another stereotype of a kind of a cook the books sort of thing. You know, again, it's cheating on his wife. This has happened for years and years. Dishonesty, infidelity. You know, it's like he's cooking the books, but he's cooking his marriage, right? Well, I don't know if that really actually works out. So I'm maybe taking a little step too far. But yes, you are correct. I feel forced to vote for same time next year for that reason. But I know Catherine likes the swears. I know the movies she watches are pretty racy, pretty edgy. You can't get any more of that than Wolf of Wall Street. So I actually suspect Catherine, that's the one you're going to vote for.

Catherine: Yeah, sorry.

Mike: No need to apologize. My vote was also for Wolf of Wall Street because I love that movie. Criteria be damned.

Steve: There it is. I'm going to have to find some editing service. I can't turn that thing on in my house. Are you kidding me?

Mike: You have to rent a hotel room just to watch it and then all the suspects of you being the dirty account.

Steve: Seriously. Hey, can I rent a room for three hours? Oh yeah, sure, Mr. Soter. That doesn't look weird at all.

Mike: Next battle. Our number seven seed is Dead Man. In this psychedelic western, Johnny Depp is back playing an accountant. This time he's on the run after murdering a man, and then things get even stranger. It's going against our 26th seed. Rogue Trader. Ewan McGregor plays Nick Leeson, an ambitious investment broker who single handedly bankrupted one of the oldest and most important banks in Britain. It's clear that I just think investment means accounting, right? That's what this list has shown so far.

Steve: Basically.

Catherine: So Dead Man, right?

Steve: Well, I think well, yeah, I think dead man wins by default. But here's what I would ask here. Why does the murdered guy, because that's what happens in the end, why does he have to be an accountant? This is like some fifth stereotype of this, like Bob Cratchit, Christmas Carol struggling accountant bookkeeper can barely make it. And then, you know, he ends up getting whacked at the end. Like, why? Why? Why?

Mike: Well, if there's five stereotypes at this point, are we just creating a well fleshed out human being?

Steve: Maybe. You're probably right, but this is my righteous indignation for all stereotyped accountants everywhere. So for all of you listening, you're welcome. Anyway, I think Dead Man by default. But Catherine,

Catherine: agree.

Steve: There you go.

Mike: Dead Man.

Steve: Regrettably, because I don't want to watch Dead Man.

Mike: Our number 10 seed is Moonstruck. It's the mid-80s. Cher, Nicolas Cage, bookkeeping, romantic misadventures. It's up against our 23rd seed, The Informant. Steven Soderbergh and Matt Damon team up to tell the story about the true story of the US government investigating agribusiness giant with price fixing accusation based on the evidence submitted by the star witness and possible liar vice president turned informant Mark Whitaker.

Catherine: I read the book The Informant.

Mike: How was it.

Catherine: It's fascinating. It's bananas.

Steve: Here's the question.

Mike: The movie is dope.

Steve: Here's a question. When you read the book, you know, again, books often go into little more detail. Is there any accountant -- any accounting or is there an accountant? Because again, I think Moonstruck, thank goodness, wins by default. But you've read the book, so you know more about it than I do.

Catherine: Oh, you know, it's been a while. I don't think he was an accountant, was he?

Steve: I don't think he was.

Mike: Is bookkeeping not the same thing?

Steve: But in Moonstruck, that's the bookkeeper. Moonstruck's got the bookkeeper. In the Informant, he was a vice president, right? And there was fraud going on and he was going to be the informant. But it turns out he was kind of in on it, right?

Catherine: Uh-Huh. Yeah, yeah.

Mike: All right. Moonstruck moves on.

Steve: Moonstruck moves on. And this is revealing Mike's stereotype that some kind of fraud connected to something must've made him an accountant.

Mike: I met Steve and went, Oh, I know he's dirty. He's got some crime in his past.

Steve: You have no idea.

Mike: All right. We only have a few more battles in this first round. Next is our number three seed, the Big Short. 2006 2007 Various investors bet against the U.S. mortgage market. In the research, they discover how flawed and corrupt the market is. Hilarity and learning ensues. It's going up against our number 30 seed, The Dueling Accountant. When a lonely accountant reluctantly agrees to fight a sword duel, he's thrown into intrigue and romance as he faces the scheming heiress, deadly opponent, vengeful Roma, and secrets from the past. I looked a lot at this movie that I've never heard of. It's supposed to be just one of the worst movies ever made.

Catherine: Who's in it?

Mike: You've never heard of anybody. It's like a studio you've never heard of, actors you've never heard of, but has accountant in the name of the movie.

Catherine: Doesn't matter. Big Short.

Steve: OK, well, so I mean, I'm glad you said that because presumably Mike's going to say the same thing, and I'd way rather watch the Big Short than the Dueling Accountant, although you've kind of you've sort of like piqued my interest here. But the Big Short has nothing to do about accounting. I mean, there was a lot of accounting stuff that came out of like, you know, the housing crisis, but whether he's a sword fighter or whatever, number one, accounting is in the name and the character was an accountant. So very sadly, in my opinion, Dueling Accountant wins by default. But I don't like that answer.

Catherine: But have you ever been in a sword duel, Steve?

Steve: I may have, you know. It gets to quarter end, we're arguing about numbers. Pull out my sword.

Catherine: Fair.

Mike: I love the Big Short. But you know what? Tensions are getting high between me and Steve. I'm going to have to back him on this one. The Dueling Accountant moves on.

Steve: No way, no way. The Big Short falls to the Dueling Accountant.

Mike: In the first round.

Steve: Wow.

Mike: Should've practiced dueling.

Steve: Well, I would highly recommend the Big Short for our audience. If you haven't seen it, it is awesome. It's fascinating. Excellent movie. Just not about accounting.

Mike: Weird, cool filmmaking. Big fan of the way they stop the movie and just be like, OK, you probably need to know all these complicated assets.

Steve: That was the same -- they did Vice, right? The one about Dick Cheney as well?

Mike: Yeah, it's McKay. Up next is my favorite movie on the list at number 14 seed Stranger Than Fiction. Will Ferrell plays Harold Crick, an accountant who loves numbers. Sorry about the stereotype.

Steve: Number 10.

Mike: Has a habit involving counting, even in everyday tasks like brushing his teeth. Things go awry when he falls in love and finds out he's a protagonist in a novel. That's going against the number 19 seed. The Accountant. Ben Affleck plays the titular accountant who works for illegal companies and helps them manipulate their financial records. This leads him to go head to accounting head with the FBI. So two accountant stereotypes going up against each other.

Steve: Yeah, Catherine, I jump in too often. What do you think about these ones?

Catherine: We should probably choose the one where the accountant falls in love versus fixes the books. So stranger than fiction.

Mike: And it's a wild movie, and accounting is very germane to his whole journey.

Steve: Well, I like it.

Mike: He meets the love of his life because he's auditing her.

Steve: Oh yeah, yeah. I mean, hands down, that's got to win. Although that does sadden me just a little bit because, you know, the accountant is the name of the movie right for Ben Affleck, and that's kind of what we're talking about. Here's the other reason why I like stranger than fiction, because I can identify with that, because actually, as a kid, I used to count things. I used to count the number of tiles in our kitchen floor, the number of cracks on the sidewalk, the number of lines of -- that's probably OCD. Maybe that should have been diagnosed and treated, but I can identify with that.

Mike: Look, if you don't treat it, it just becomes a winning part of your career.

Steve: Yeah. You make a career out of it.

Mike: All right. And you know what? We can do bonus episodes. We make the rules here. It just won't be officially in the mix for best accounting movie. We can watch The Accountant if we really want to at some point.

Steve: Good call. Very good call.

Mike: That's how you get around the rules of the bracket.

Steve: You know what? Well, and maybe it becomes like a wild card thing. I don't know how the math works out, because to your point, it's got to be divisible by eight. But maybe that's a wild card or something?

Mike: Who knows? Number six. Inside Job. This Academy Award winning doc is a detailed examination of the circumstances that led to the slowdown in the economy, due to which millions of U.S. citizens lost their jobs and houses in the '08 financial crisis. Just a real feel good film.

Steve: That was Matt Damon, right, that was kind of like the narrator, is that right?

Mike: I think so. It's going up against our number 27 seed nick of time starring Johnny Depp, Christopher Walken. Nick of Time takes place in real time and follows a public accountant who must assassinate a politician in exchange for his kidnaped daughter's freedom.

Steve: Well, here's the crappy thing. Again, Nick of time wins it because the inside job had nothing to do about accounting. But accountants killing people -- are we not friendly enough? Like, Hey, you better give me the results I need for this quarter? Or Hey, I better get more of a refund. And I'm like, No, you know what? I'll give you a refund. Bam, right? Why?

Mike: This is to save his daughter.

Steve: Oh, that's fair. I guess I kind of missed that point. Anyway, I think Nick of time wins. Boo. Because I would rather see Inside Job

Mike: Catherine where are we leaning.

Catherine: Oh, I would rather see inside job too.

Mike: You can vote for that.

Catherine: I'll vote for that.

Steve: You're the tiebreaker, Mike.

Mike: I'm going to say Inside Job moves on. Mostly because now I want to watch it to be like, why isn't this accounting? And Steve will explain to me in this episode.

Steve: You bet. We can talk all about it.

Mike: Oof.. Our final battle in the first round. Number 11 seed. The Untouchables. Brian De Palma's look at the team of accountants that exposed famous gangster Al Capone and put him behind bars for tax evasion. It's going against our number 22 seed, The Other Guys. Marky Mark and Willie Ferrell play a hot-headed detective and a forensic accountant who try to fill the hole left by their action cop idols.

Steve: Hmm. So here's the thing about these two movies that I actually really appreciate. Forensic accounting doesn't come up very often. I mean, I think people kind of think a little bit about forensic accounting's like crime or something, but that's like a whole practice. We did a two part episode in season two with Tim Tribe. My old friend I haven't talked to him for a while, but he's all into that. It was actually fascinating. This whole 'guy torches his house and gets in a lake and a golf course and scuba gear.' Anyway, this is actually on Off the Books. But I think it's The Untouchables because without Capone -- it was ultimately the accounting, right? It was like the tax evasion stuff. That's what brought him down. So my vote is the untouchables.

Mike: Yeah, I think it's the most famous heroic acts of accounting. I agree with The Untouchables.

Steve: I don't know the most famous. I mean, it's pretty famous.

Mike: Name another heroic act of accounting

Steve: Every single day when you close those dang books, right? Well, it's not every day. I should've said every month, but you get the point, right? I hand over that income statement, balance sheet to the executive team like, Hey, look, here's what happened. Here's why. Here's where we're going. That is heroic, righteous work, my friend.

Mike: OK, I concede.

Steve: Thank you.

Mike: Catherine, which way would you have voted?

Catherine: Oh, probably The Untouchables. But I'm curious to see how our whole bracket looks, because now I'm thinking back, and I don't think my decision making was consistent or backup-able.

Mike: Well, lucky you. We have now to take 16 down to the eight we'll actually watch, but this will be much faster. We've already talked about it. This will be gut checks, right? So we have The Shawshank Redemption going up against The Royal Tenenbaums, Catherine.

Catherine: Oh, based on Steve's prior criteria, I think it might have to be.

Steve: Well, I think so too, but this doesn't have to be Steve's criteria. I mean, we can dial that back just a little bit. Catherine, what movie do you think is a better accounting movie?

Catherine: I'm still going to say Shawshank.

Steve: Well, there you go.

Mike: Steve.

Steve: Well, again, by my criteria as Catherine just said The Royal Tenenbaums.

Mike: OK, I'll break this tie. Shawshank.

Steve: Well, there it is.

Mike: I'll listen to you, Steve, and ignore the things you say,

Steve: I would expect nothing less.

Catherine: I like how the non accountants are choosing the accounting movies.

Mike: Well, there's more of us. And this is good. We're the voice of the people. What do people think about accountants.

Steve: Are accountants not people too? Seriously? Stereotype number six, maybe seven.

Mike: Voice of the common people, not the daily heroes that are accountants. And next is all the queen's horses versus the producers.

Steve: Oh, well, that's easy. I mean, that's hands down,

Mike: All the Queen's horses

Steve: definitely

Mike: Nods all around the board. All the Queen's horses moves on. All right. Up next is -- remember I said, here's where you have to remind me. I'm going to say trading places, but I don't mean trading places. I mean, Lethal Weapon two, it's Ghostbusters versus Lethal Weapon two.

Steve: Oh, Ghostbusters. It's just got to be. Catherine wanted to see Lethal Weapon two, and if you agree with her Mike, then you guys outvote me.

Mike: I'm fine with never seeing a Lethal Weapon movie ever again.

Steve: Oh, that's right. You were not a fan.

Mike: That's right. I was growing up. I just really hate Mel Gibson. And again, Ghostbusters was the first movie I thought of when I was compiling this list.

Catherine: Let's do Ghostbusters.

Mike: That's going to be my vote. Up next. Here's where your justice comes for Steve. It's office space versus the smartest guys in the room, Steve.

Steve: Who you're going to call, smartest guys in the room. That's what I'm saying.

Mike: Catherine.

Catherine: Enron.

Mike: Enron. All right, the wolf of Wall Street, the movie that will make Steve have to rent a motel for three hours, or Same Time Next Year, the movie about a philandering accountant, which people will think Steve is if we make him watch The Wolf of Wall Street.

Steve: Well, it's got to be same time next year, but I fully expect to be outvoted.

Mike: I love screwball comedy. And this feels very screwball. I'm going to go same time next year.

Steve: No kidding.

Catherine: All right. Wow.

Steve: Catherine which way are you going?

Catherine: Well, hearing it now, I think same time next year because it's such a central character.

Steve: But would you really rather watch that than like drug, swear, sex.

Mike: One of the best movies.

Steve: Wolf of Wall Street? I mean, let's just be honest here.

Catherine: I would not.

Steve: But oh well. Well, there you go.

Mike: We have one of the several Johnny Depp accountant movies, Dead Man, going up against Moonstruck. Two films I have never seen. I would like to watch one of them. It's not dead man. My vote is for Moonstruck.

Steve: You know what. I can get on board with Moonstruck. That seems like a more interesting movie to me.

Catherine: Let's do it, Moonstruck.

Mike: Next up, we have. The dueling accountant versus stranger than fiction. Dueling Accountant, again, one of the worst movies ever made. Just based on the things I read.

Catherine: Not to sway you or anything.

Steve: Yeah, we kind of have to watch it. I mean, for something to get that moniker, like this is literally the worst movie, I mean, isn't there just some kind of morbid curiosity that you would want to watch a movie like that? I'm going to say dueling accountant. He's got a sword, people

Mike: I feel like there are so few hours in the day, and I think I'm beyond the part of my life where I'm like, I've heard this is terrible, let's do it. My vote is for stranger than fiction. Catherine. Please break this tie.

Catherine: Oh, shoot! Because now I'm being inconsistent, because now I feel like the dueling accountant has it in the title. We should probably count it as an accounting movie and we should watch it.

Mike: There is no claim of consistency-

Steve: All right. She's clearly made up her mind. Let's not pressure anybody.

Mike: All right. Dueling Accountant.

Catherine: Mostly because I want to see what Steve says when it gets to the duel scene

Mike: Like that's how I would do it.

Steve: Did you see that move there? Yeah, that parry? Yeah, that's totally how I would've done it.

Mike: Our final battle. Inside Job versus The Untouchables.

Steve: Well, it's got to be The Untouchables for the same reason we picked The Untouchables in the first place, isn't it?

Mike: I think so, Catherine.

Catherine: Yep,.

Mike: Yep. Unanimous vote, The Untouchables. All right. Get excited. The eight movies we'll be watching throughout the rest of season three, probably throughout 2022, are The Shawshank Redemption, All The Queen's Horses, Ghostbusters, Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room, Same Time Next Year, Moonstruck, Dueling Accountant, and The Untouchables. I'm very excited to go on this accounting movie journey with the two of you,

Steve: so are we doin the team meeting now. I'm kind of hungry.

Mike: Yeah, well, I do have a closing question. I have produced enough of these shows.

Steve: A closing question?

Mike: And then we'll get outta here.

Steve: Didn't we do 32 closing questions just.

Mike: Well, this is the closing question, and this is to get to know you as people that listeners want to get to know hosts. Here it comes. What movie helped make you who you are? What movie do you remember watching that shot lightning in your brain and you're like, I'm now slightly different from having watched this film, or you can say favorite movie if that first one's too hard.

Steve: So I will just jump in right here. It has got to be Back to the Future. The original 1985, I'm pretty sure it was 85. That was so cool. That was so different. A DeLorean, are you kidding me? Michael J. Fox is kind of short, right? I mean, that movie just checked all the boxes for this guy.

Mike: We love a short here on Off the Books.

Catherine: That movie holds up surprisingly well.

Mike: One three two, order of Back to the Future rankings.

Steve: Well, it's got to start with one, then three, then two. I actually really liked two, but three was just a really good story. I mean, you know, like two was kind of quirky and sort of weird, but then they, like, wrapped it up together really well. One, in my opinion, though, definitely at the top.

Mike: Yes. Catherine, impactful movie, what changed, young Catherine?

Catherine: Well, the movie I watched all the time as a young kid was The Wizard of Oz, but the one that changed me, it's a documentary. I don't mean to bring the party down, but it's called Who killed Vincent Chin? It's a great documentary if you have time to watch. It's great. Also, Hoop Dreams. I'm a documentary fan.

Mike: Nice. I've not heard of

Steve: Yeah, I haven't either.

Mike: I'll put it on my list to watch.

Steve: But so, here's where the audience gets to learn a little about you. You allude to this, but I mean, you know, Catherine, you've got a degree I believe in journalism. I know you've worked as a journalist, right? That sort of investigative like figuring stuff out. That shouldn't be a surprise that some kind of hard hitting documentary would speak to you?

Catherine: Yes. Yeah. I'm curious what Mike's answer is?

Mike: Because I'm a movie freak and I didn't have a lot of friends growing up, there's probably a lot I could say here, but my go to is Scream. I watched in fourth grade, possibly too young, and it's the first time I saw a movie that knew it was a movie and that exploded my little brain and changed what I want out of pop culture and cultural commentary. And I love it.

Steve: Nice. Nice. As I'm rethinking this, not that I'm going to back off on Back to the Future. But the other movie that literally did blow my mind was The Matrix. The very first one, 1999.

Mike: Oh, sure.

Steve: Oh my gosh, I've never seen a movie like that my entire life. We're all in pods.

Mike: The Matrix was so impactful that I went. I was 12, and I went and for some reason didn't try to sneak in. I just tried to buy a ticket to The Matrix. It's rated R, and the guy at the counter said, "You know, I know you're too young, but this movie's too good. Of course. Come on in."

Steve: Well, here's the funny thing about that actually, isn't there this debate about whether or not The Matrix was really rated R? Because sometimes you can see it rated PG 13. Sometimes you see it rated R.

Mike: Really?

Steve: Yeah. And actually, if I watch the movie, that's not a rated R movie. I mean, that's intense. And it's like psychological, I guess.

Mike: But there's not blood. There's just so much gun porn. But we had a different relationship to guns, and

Steve: we did have a different relationship with guns in the 90s, especially if it looks and sounds like that. Are you kidding me? It's crazy.

Mike: Yeah. Well, Primus is going on in the back. Not Primus. Who's that band? Doesn't matter.

Steve: Rage. Rage Against the Machine.

Mike: Thank you both for letting me hijack the team meeting. Thank you, dear listeners. I hope you enjoyed this and tune in for hard hitting movie criticism sprinkled throughout the great interviews we do. I'm allowed to say that. It's not too self-aggrandizing if I say you guys do great interviews. I'm a huge fan of producing the two of you. And I hope that stealing this meeting does not make that happen less.

Steve: Well, thank you, Mike. And the fact that you just brought up Primus, your stock just skyrocketed, but that's another episode.

Catherine: Cannot wait.

Mike: Yes.

Mike: I kicked Catherine and Steve out because I am letting the power get to my head, so thank you, dear listener, for surfing along with us. And I guess a big thanks to Catherine Tsai and Steve Soter for letting me take over this show every once in a while. This has been Off the Books presented by Workiva. Please subscribe, leave a review, tell a friend if you like the show, feel free to drop us a line at Surf's up, and we'll see you on the next wave.

Off the Books season 3


51 minutes


Steve Soter, Catherine Tsai, Mike Gravagno

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