Office Space (1999) — Before Michael Scott, there was this

“We need to talk about your TPS report.”

Justin’s rating: I, too, have spent many years cursing “PC LOAD LETTER”

Justin’s review: If Dante had written his Inferno today, no doubt a special level of hell would be reserved for mindless cubicle dwellers trapped in the bureaucracy of the corporate life. Enter Office Space, a more-than-accurate depiction of the life that many lead and few glamorize.

Peter (Ron Livingston) is at the end of his rope, asked by no less than eight bosses to submit the same form properly. His co-workers Samir (Ajay Naidu) and Michael Bolton (David Herman) are underpaid, overworked, and forced to suffer indignities at the hands of their moronic boss Bill (Gary Cole). Even simpleton Milton (Stephen Root) is downsized to smaller and smaller cubicles — and he has his favorite stapler stolen.

Something has to give, otherwise this would be a highly depressing film. During a hypnotic session, Peter finally snaps and decides not to give a rip about work any more. His lackadaisical attitude weirdly propels him to some measure of corporate success, where he finally exacts revenge in an elaborate money-laundering scheme. Towards the end this backfires somewhat and slows down the otherwise hectic and hilarious pace of the movie.

I loved Office Space. More each time I see it, to tell the truth. If you ever developed an eye twitch at the blockheaded actions of idiotic bosses, then you’ll enjoy a vicarious sense of satisfaction as well. The boss Bill is perfectly typecast, punctuating the beginning of every statement with an “Oh, Um, Hm, Yeah”, and basically treats his underlings like illiterate peasant serfs infested with lice and sores. They could make an easy sequel where Bill is tortured on the rack for two straight hours, and I’d go see it without reserve.

The twisted moral of Office Space is that the corporate culture is out of control and operating in its own alternate dimension; thus, it’s okay to strike back by fighting with equally stupid tactics. One of the best examples of how everything is out of whack is that heavy-duty gangsta music dominates the score of this film, a film in which the primary characters are about as far removed from gangsta life as I am from the President’s dog. (Once again, I am pleasantly surprised to whip up a metaphor at moment’s notice that really makes no sense.)

Stupidity sucks. Office Space rules. So blast up the Notorious B.I.G. and rebel in a small yet meaningful way by renting this cult classic.

PoolMan’s rating: Guy has job. Guy hates job. Guy inspires PoolMan.

PoolMan’s review: Talk about an underrated movie. I was told about this while it was still in theaters, but put it off until video time. Which is good, cause you hardly need the big screen to enjoy this movie, but enjoy it you will. If you qualify.

Somehow, I can see this movie escaping people who don’t work in a cubicle. If you’ve never had more than one superior in an office, never fought the printer for a sheet of paper, never ONCE thought of setting fire to your workplace, this movie might not actually work for you. But for a box-dwelling underling like myself, half of this movie was spent trying to regain air lost to laughing too hard.

Justin has already gleefully retold the story for me, so I won’t bother adding to it. I will, however, throw in my vote that this movie is a born classic. It absolutely reminds me of the comedy’s comedy (like a man’s man, only it’s a movie. Ah, never mind.), kind of like how I’m always pining for the ’80s. There are SO many little jokes in this movie you’ll never catch all of them.

Ironically, the character the film is based on, Milton, is kind of painful to watch. Not that the joke is without merit, but I found his scenes to be kind of slow. Just a thought. However, on the flip side, I could watch Peter’s antics for hours without a break. It’s nice to have a character you can live so vicariously through.

I actually found the pace of the movie to be thoroughly enjoyable throughout. The scenes which descend into the heavy gangsta rap (centered about the ironically named Michael Bolton) are really quite funny. I’ve had my eye on a few pieces of office equipment that I’d like to take into a field and kick around for a while. And while I would never have the… um, courage, to steal $300,000 from the company I work for, I certainly enjoyed the whole money laundering thing. Especially for the fact that none of them have any idea what money laundering actually is.

Pick it up. Watch it. Love it. Send donations. (Care of Justin, of course. I’m not allowed to handle Mutant Reviewers funds after the… incident.)

Clare’s rating: I think it’s one of the funniest movies ever. Yeah, you heard me. I ain’t scared.

Clare’s review: I’ve seen Office Space about 100 times. Every time I see it, it’s more funny than the last. Every time I see it, I find one or two more little details or line deliveries or sight gags that I hadn’t seen before or that I didn’t fully appreciate before that make the whole thing that much more amazing and hilarious.

Recently, I watched it again during a period of time when my own cubicle-infested existence at work had me teetering on the brink of insanity and mania. Watching Office Space from that perspective can be VERY dangerous. So be warned. If you work in a cubie farm and you endeavor every day to make it to work and back without jumping out a window, watch this movie with caution. You’ll love it, but it also may inspire you to pine longingly to gut a fish on your paper work or take your fax machine out into nature and beat it into oblivion.

The cast of this movie, from top to bottom, is amazing and genius and perfect. Ron Livingston as every-man-without-a-plan Peter Gibbons? Couldn’t be more perfect. Gary Cole as the wishy-washy passive-aggressive boss? Spot on! Ajay Naidu and David Herman as Peter’s work buddies? So funny I peed.

Stephen Root as Milton Waddams, a character based on a cartoon? If you’ve ever seen the original Milton episodes that aired on SNL and Liquid Television, you know how ridiculously amazing he is at perfecting this role. Dedrich Bader as mullet king Lawrence? I have no words. The list goes on and on and on right down to the receptionist who answers the phone the exact same annoying way every single time. I didn’t even hate Jennifer Aniston in her role as Peter’s flair-wearing, bird-flipping girlfriend Joanna.

Two other things: Office Space was shot in Austin, Texas. Which is where I live (duh). I know someone who actually works in the building they used for the Initech building. Finding this out at a party while commiserating about our crappy cube jobs was so funny I had to sit down for a couple of minutes after she told me.

I am also convinced, along with many other people who know him, that my old neighbor James HAS to be the inspiration for Dedrich Bader’s character Lawrence. James used to sling coffee at a popular café here on the University of Texas campus and he’s a really memorable and funny presence just about everywhere he goes. The similarities between the two are way too accurate to be a coincidence. Don’t believe me? Check this and this out.

Go rent Office Space. No. Go BUY Office Space. Because you’ll watch it regularly for years to come.

Al’s rating: Did you ever know that you’re my heeeeroooooooooo? And everything I wish I could beeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee?

Al’s review: There’s a certain rare class of movie we consider unrepeatable. These are films that can so completely define an experience that trying to top it or redo it or build on it in any way is just out of the question. Most of these are AFI-style bona fide classics like Saving Private Ryan, Easy Rider, or The Grapes of Wrath, where People Who Were There can point to a moment or a sequence and say “That’s exactly it. That’s what it was like.”

To some, Office Space may seem like odd company for such films, but these are obviously people who have never had to spend half their waking hours each day staring at a computer monitor in a 4×4 box with their name on it.

During my initial experience with Office Space, I was one of those people. I was in high school, actually, so, despite the proclamations of the commercials on TV, I was not the target audience for this film at all. Oh, it was entertaining enough, I suppose, and I watched it with minimal complaints several times, but I knew people who lived and died by this movie, and it simply didn’t push my buttons the way it was apparently supposed to. Eventually, I was forced to file it away with pistachio ice cream and Radiohead under ‘Things People Like That I Don’t Get’ and move on with my life.

Fast forward 10 years later, and I am firmly entrenched in Cubicle Hell. Arbitrarily downsized into a smaller cube? Check. Five different bosses all within fifty yards of my desk? Check. A demon printer that refuses to print anything I ask it to until I have thrown up my hands in defeat and begun to transcribe it on pad and paper? Big check. With his newly-purchased Special Edition Gift Set (with Flair!) in his hot little hand, an old college buddy of mine convinces me to sit down and watch Office Space again for the first time in at least five or six years, and Oh My Sweet Cryin’ Mama if it isn’t my life, complete with the lady two desks away repeating the same three phrases again and again and again until you just can’t see the harm in wearing earplugs on the clock.

If you’ve ever looked around one day and realized that Dress-Down Friday has become the highlight of your week or heard phrases like ‘profit margin’ and ‘private equity unit’ coming from your mouth than this is a movie you will learn to cherish. There’s some nonsense in the last half hour about a plot and a storyline, but that should be of no concern to you. Just to watch Peter navigate his way through his TPS report-laden, passive-aggressive, white collar shell game of a job and act out every fantasy you’ve ever held about what exactly you would do to tear it all down is perhaps one of the most satisfying things I’ve seen in a long, long time.

It’s really lightning in a bottle, a movie that they couldn’t have made any more perfect if they tried (and I think if they had tried, the whole thing probably would have collapsed on itself). For all of you on the outside looking in: Office Space is it. That’s what it feels like.

Trust me, I’ve been there.

Didja notice?

  • How many messages Peter has on his machine
  • Where the red stapler ends up
  • If your name is Bob, you’re slated for top level management
  • “Oswald” from Drew Carey in another white collar comedy?
  • Director Mike Judge as Stan, Joanna’s boss at Chotchkie’s
  • When Peter is in the meeting room, on the white board behind him there is a complicated flow chart titled “Planning to Plan.”
  • Al S. sent in, “In the shots of the front of the Initech office building there is a metal sculpture of a square peg going through a round hole! Pure Genius!! Mike Judge thought of everything!”

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