Office Space

Director: Mike Judge
Starring: Ron Livingston, David Herman, Ajay Naidu, Stephen Root, Gary Cole and Jennifer Anniston
Released: 1999

Office Space is a film that just about everybody can relate to. We all have, or have had, a job that we hate. A boss who seems to epitomize the essence of evil itself. An occupation that is so menial that it sucks the very life out you as you push shopping trolley after shopping trolley into the trolley bay of despair….ahem….and Office Space is a film for people like that! It takes everything we have always wanted to do in our jobs and presents it to us, so that we may fantasize ourselves being in that role, and also dating Jennifer Anniston.

The plot:
Peter (Livingstone) is stuck in a menial desk job that is slowly sucking the life out of him (sound familiar, eh eh?). One day, he snaps like a lethargic twig and decides he isn’t going to bother going in anymore. Surprisingly, this sends him rocketing into upper management, where he decides to shake things up further.

Has your boss ever made a comment to you that, if it had been anyone else, you would have retaliated in a furious manner, retaliating with a vomit of abuse and anger? Or have you ever found yourself re-doing the same mind-numbingly tedious job for hours on end (arranging staples alphabetically?) because your superiors ‘didn’t feel like it’? Naturally. We all of have, especially those of us who have worked in retail (RISE my brothers and sisters!!). And the reason this film works so well is because it is so satisfying to see someone, with all of these same problems, stand up and say “Fuck the corporation!”.

Peter isn’t necessarily a likeable character, at least not at first. Though neither is he unlikable. He is, as the director intends, a mirror for ourselves. When he decides it’s time to kick back and relax, it is more or less impossible not to root for him. His boss, Bill Lumbergh (Cole), is brilliantly cast, capturing everything about the stereotypical bad boss in a flawless parody. His laid back, yet bullying mannerisms are like a cheese grater to the soul.

When Peter is flipping the bird to authority, that is when the film shines at its brightest. Boss is in the middle of a sentence? Walk away. Boss asks you to come in on Saturday? Sleep in. Boss asks if your work is done? Tell him to come back later. These simple acts of rebellion are made all the more wonderful because they somehow earn Peter a promotion, adding an extra layer of satisfaction.

As well as the appealing concept, Office Space also benefits from an excellent line-up of support characters. Michael (Herman) and Samir (Ajay), Peters office buddies, form a great dynamic with Peter, offering plenty of witty banter in the films second half in particular. They are given some nice depth with Michael having the same name as singer Michael Bolton and Samir getting typical xenophobic treatment due to his ethnicity. And Peters next door neighbour, Lawrence, offers us some traditional Mike Judge humour at its finest. (“What would I do with a million dollars? Two chicks at the same time, man”)

And then of course there is Milton, the character around whom the entire film was built. Originally featuring in some of Mike Judges shorts (shorts being short films, not the other kind, that would be weird), he was an interesting character that gets translated onto the big screen superbly. Muttering to himself for almost the entirety of the feature, he adds a nice, somewhat surreal touch to the film and is probably the most memorable character after Lumbergh.

Overall:
A film that parodies the hassle of the work place to provide satisfaction and giggles. It delivers on both counts. Anniston isn’t particularly convincing as Joanna and as such, the relationship between Peter and Joanna feels a little shallow and pointless. Also, Lumbergh feels underused, but only because his character is so brilliant.

Rating: 8/10

“Hello Peter, whats happening? Ummm, I’m gonna need you to go ahead and come in tomorrow. So if you could be here around 9 that would be great, mmmk… oh oh! and I almost forgot ahh, I’m also gonna need you to go ahead and come in on Sunday too, kay. We ahh lost some people this week and ah, we sorta need to play catch up. Kay, thanks” – Bill Lumbergh

Shamelessly Awful Facts:

  • I watched this film because a book told me to. The book was right o_O
  • Peter lives in Morningwood Apartments, a reference to an extremely frequent theme in Mike Judges Beavis and Butthead

This film is kind of like:

  • What you fantasize about doing when your boss asks you to clean the customer toilets

or

  • Toy Story, only if you replace the toys with office workers
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2 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. I meant that in the way that, it might be considered a secret life that boring office workers might have when we’re not looking.

    Or, if I were to be really deep about it, something to do with God playing with our lives.

  2. Yeah, I saw that movie once with my dad. I never considered it to be anything like Toy Story, but it was still pretty funny.


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