Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Classic Throwback: Office Space (Mike Judge, 1999)

I always find it incredible how re-watchable Office Space is. Every time I feel the urge to watch this film, I enjoy it more than previous viewings. There is something so likeable, supportable and inspiring about the central character, Peter Gibbons (Ron Livingston, Band of Brothers), so sympathetic about the under appreciated IT guys,  Michael (David Herman) and Samir (Ajay Naidu), and so distasteful and dislikeable about Gary Cole’s scene-stealing coffee mug-wielding boss, Bill Lumbergh, that you can’t help but get wholeheartedly involved in the film. It’s a film that doesn’t break any comedic boundaries, and is a little meandering, but is understandably renowned for it’s accuracy in satirizing relatable elements of daily working life, it’s appreciative details (the recognition of a door handle likely to give an electric shock), it’s witty and quotable dialogue and several classic moments – including the character’s destruction of photocopier as though it were a vicious mob hit.

The film is so funny that even the opening credit sequence produces multiple laughs. The success of this film is based on a viewer’s position to relate, and anyone who has worked in a cubicled office building, spent hours upon hours starring absently into a computer screen or at the sheet of paper in front of them, and been harassed by multiple bosses telling them the same thing, should find this film uproarious. I haven’t and I still find it hilarious. On the other hand, I have been stuck in traffic and through a blend of impatience and frustration changed lanes only to find myself ground to a halt and watch the lane I was formerly in start to move. The sad thing about this instance is that for these characters is that it is just the start of their day.

The film focuses on three key characters, mentioned above, who are fed up with their software programming positions at Initech, and decide to hit back at the company by installing a virus that rips off the accounting system and transfers fractions of dollars into an account. However, a misplaced decimal point causes the virus to steal more than intended. A bunch of intriguing characters pop up along the way, including Milton (Stephen Root), a meek, obsessive employee who mumbles to himself and despite being laid off years prior continues to work at the company, Lawrence (Diedrich Bader), Peter’s life-satisfied neighbor, Drew (Greg Pitts), a jocular Initech employee who tells Peter about the ‘O-face’ and Bob Slydell (John C. McGinley), a consultant brought in to downsize the company.

Sure, some of the performances are ordinary, and the scenes featuring Milton grow tiresome, but almost every sequence featuring Gary Cole and Peter and his pals is distinctly memorable. This is also one of Jennifer Anniston’s most likeable performances – she plays Peter’s love interest - which is no small feat. But this film isn’t really about the performances, or Mike Judge’s skills as a director, but the astute awareness of odd quirks in the daily routine of office workers and white collar employees, and themes of disillusionment about the mundane routine of life and the ever-present quest of being able to balance life’s essentials (a profession) with a social life and supporting activities that ensure contentedness and happiness. In this sense, Office Space works brilliantly. At just 89 minutes, it’s light, breezy viewing and a rightfully respected cult favourite.

My Rating: ★★★★ (B)


  1. This is definitely a film that is totally re-watchable. It just really shows that whole corporate world at its lowest. Man, I would hate to have the same name as that no-talent ass clown. I bet every time someone says those words, Michael Bolton winces.

    Yeah... that is... mmm... how are those TPS reports going... yeah... mmmkay. God, that Lumbergh is annoying but Gary Cole nails that role.

  2. It's a classic although I do feel the movie is a bit overrated IMO. Some scenes and lines are absolutely priceless but others are totally forgettable. And as you state, the performances are really nothing to write home about. Nonetheless, pretty satisfying flick overall.

  3. This film has never been about the performances, but about the extreme version of reality it presents. Anyone who has worked in a cubicle can relate to pieces of this, even if what is presented here is a far more extreme version.

  4. So funny, Gary Cole is painful to watch and the turning down of the hip hop on the car stereo is hilarious. So many funny characters and moments and the best movie boss in film surely. Also love the neighbour 'check out channel 9, it's the breast exams'!

  5. Yeah I think this is the only very few film w/ Aniston in it. Lots of great comic character actors that made the best of the script. Gary Cole has got to be the worst boss anyone could ever have. He should've had a cameo in Horrible Bosses, ahah.

  6. @ Steven - One of my favourite bits is when Peter has that dream about Lumbergh fucking Joanna, and he is holding the coffee mug. Gary Cole might only be remembered for that role, but he nails it.

    @ Castor - It is satisfying, but it often leaves you wanting a little bit more. It's a pretty simple film an though it is an extreme version of these lives (as Steve states) it is still pretty tame. It would have been even better to see it taken to another level at times. But with tunes like "Damn it feels good to be a gangsta" and a countless hilarious moments I find it pretty solid.

    @ Steve - Yeah, absolutely. I think Ron Livingston is perfect as an everyman in the lead, but while Diedrich Bader was a lot of fun as his neighbour, his acting is atrocious haha.

    @ Pturner - Turning down the stereo is a classic. "PC Load Letter? What the fuck does that mean?" I also love some of the stylistic flair (the slo-mo) and the soundtrack. Just a funny film. Period.

    @ Ruth - How much more memorable is he than Kevin Spacey's boss? I have completely forgotten about him, while "Yeah...hi" and others are still frequently quoted.

  7. Great review, man. I never get tired of this movie either, and Lumbergh is one of the most annoying characters I have ever seen (played to perfection by Gary Cole, of course). Just reading and thinking about this movie makes me want to watch it again, heh.

  8. @ Eric - Thanks man. Yeah, I re-watched it and decided to write about it because I read a post on it, and was inspired. I know how you feel!

  9. I love this movie too! :) I watched Office Space thrice with my friends, and we had a great laugh every time. A lot of people could relate to the plot because it involved the office and the elements that revolved around it. I hope they do another movie similar to this. :)

  10. @ Faye - It is a lot of fun. I have never worked in an office but I still felt like i could relate. A lighter, breezier version of Gervais' THE OFFICE, which is genius but so much more specific (and cringe-worthy). This is pure entertainment. Thanks for the comment Faye. Look forward to having you back!

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