Rating: B/ I can’t relate to Office Space personally, having never worked in an environment like the one portrayed in the film, but almost twenty years after it’s original release this movie hasn’t lost it’s charm. Friends and acquaintances tell me that it is a spot-on portrayal of working in a bureaucratic office setting. And don’t let the fact that director Mike Judge created the show Beavis and Butthead deter you from watching this movie; similarities are limited to absurd humor, and the dryly satiric Office Space is much less juvenile than Judge’s crude, crass animated duo.
Peter Gibbons (Ron Livingston) is a frustrated office drone working at a company called Initech who is cheated on by his girlfriend (Alexandra Wentworth) and ball-bashed by his hilariously passive-aggressive boss (Gary Cole.) His friends Samir and Michael (Ajay Naidu and David Herman) are in the same boat, and the three guys goes to a local restaurant to vent and so Peter can check out a cute waitress (Jennifer Aniston.) Alas, Peter lacks the cojones to ask her out or otherwise make a big change in his life, until his girlfriend takes him to a hypnosis session and the obese therapist dies of a heart attack before snapping Peter out of his trance. Peter was supposed to have not a care in the world before her portly hypnotist snapped his fingers; now, those cold dead fingers will never be snapped, and Peter goes through his day not giving less of a fuck.
Now Peter goes into work and does whatever the hell he wants, and the real irony of this is that this behavior is considered ballsy and he is promptly promoted by two consultants that are doing some downsizing within Initech. Fed up with the company bullshit, Peter and his friends decide to rip Initech off big-time, leading to several close calls and a reality check for the guys.
Office Space is a goofy, incredibly quotable comedy that reflects on life working for a big corporation. My favorite character is Milton, played by the wonderful character actor Stephen Root. Milton is a blotchy-faced, somewhat mentally challenged employee who has an obsession with a red Swingline stapler he seems to have stolen from his boss, Lumburgh. He is treated very badly at Initech due to being the perfect victim and is perpetually mumbling about ‘setting the building on fire.’ Of course, who listens to the crazy guy? Nobody, until it’s too late! It’s safe to say Milton gets the last laugh at the end, and although his final desperate act is not one to be emulated, it can certainly be savored.
There are a handful of great, really funny scenes in this movie, and the guys’ bumbling attempts to get even are ridiculous while still being within the realm of feasible reality. The use of Gangsta rap music also heightens the sense of absurdity; the protagonists are white, nerdy, and pissed off, and nothing juxtaposes with that better than songs about niggas, hos, and selling crack in the hood. I don’t think Office Space is hilarious, but it’s one of those movies that stands up to multiple viewings. It’s also a cult classic of sorts, being very popular and influential in certain circles. It’s one of those movies that might be hilarious to one person while making another guy go “Huh?” But if you like this movie, at least we know you’re cool. Another cool thing about Office Space is that it is great to make in-jokes about. Then you can feel all superior to the people who don’t get your references. Seriously, though, if you like satires, you pretty much can’t go wrong with this one.