Hey guys. . . .what’s happening? Here’s another T.P.S. report for your reading pleasure. As a blogger, I have a fair amount of time to get what I have to say out to you, my loyal and lovely readers. I can slack off whenever I please, bust ass when I feel like really getting stuff done in a timely fashion. There are very few rules and regulations governing my blogging life. Most importantly of all, I have no bosses looking over my shoulder whenever I write something. (If I find a more substantial job soon, that won’t always be the case. But hopefully my future editor will be cool.) I, forever the idealist, want to petition the concept of working for a living, though. Anyone who’s ever had the “joy” of being stuffed into a cubicle for 8 straight hours Monday through Friday can’t deny the inevitable sense of feeling like a slave to their desk/computer after a certain amount of time. I’m not saying I have the boldness to do something like this week’s main character does but I can empathize with how he’s feeling. I honestly don’t know who can’t with this week’s edition of TBT.
Today’s food for thought: Office Space.
Release: February 19, 1999
A comedy steeped in the doldrums of being a cog in the corporate engine, Mike Judge’s Office Space became a sensation in a hurry. It’s uncanny ability to dramatize the monotony of the work day is pretty much unmatched by any film since, and not only that, its sense of deadpan humor operates on such a high level it’s become one of the most quoted films of all time. It has its feet firmly planted in reality so most of us can relate, yet it also contains scenes that seem to come straight out of a dream we all have had about that time we quit in spectacular and dramatic fashion. All of this blends together to form one of the most satisfying and re-watchable comedies of the ’90s. And yeah, possibly of all time.
There’s no secret to its success. Judge’s film is so reliant on its criticism of the work place that it almost could be considered a snuff film. However there’s a universal appeal to the despair Peter Gibbons (Ron Livingston) and his coworkers Michael Bolton (David Herman) and Samir (Ajay Naidu) experience working as low-level programmers at the soul-sucking entity that is Initech. Filled with an assortment of memorable and quite frankly bizarre characters, the story is one many have always looked towards for comfort in their ironically similar routines as they split their time between work, watching films and making sure they have enough copies of the T.P.S. reports.
Peter is an increasingly dissatisfied and disenchanted employee at the Houston-based company, and finds his everyday life a chore with each and every passing minute. His girlfriend is a self-absorbed prig who makes him regularly visit an occupational hypnotherapist, his boss is none other than a droid named Bill Lumbergh (Gary Cole’s most iconic role without question), his friends are far too settled into their dull career choices, and his willpower is equal to that of Milton’s I.Q. — exactly zero. There comes a point, however, when enough is enough for Peter, and following a bizarre incident during his latest visit with his shrink, he’s thrown into a state of complete relaxation and mental clarity.
He stops showing up to work after one too many requests for his presence on the weekend; he refuses to answer Lumbergh’s many, many ensuing house calls and voicemails; he finally gets up the nerve to ask the pretty waitress (Jennifer Aniston) working at a restaurant called Chotchkie’s, located very close to his place of work, to lunch one afternoon. Quite simply, one day he just stops giving a damn. He finds a kind of inner peace that gives the viewer a reason to cheer for this otherwise downtrodden protagonist.
The film seems a little cultish in its unabashed revelations of what’s said behind closed doors — it would seem only the most disillusioned general laborer would truly identify with the sudden change in fortune for Peter Gibbons, but that’s not necessarily true. Office Space is written in such a way that a more general audience who appreciates good comedy can latch on to the themes presented. It’s easy to picture software companies or any job that requires employees to stuff themselves into cubicles all day five days out of the week as being joyless, monotonous environments in which spirits are crushed and only feelings like depression and regret stagnate to unhealthily high degrees. Depending on how disenchanted the viewer is with his or her own work experience the lead characters here will seem more or less like heroes.
But no one can deny that the film is an intelligent and refreshingly simple one dedicated to proving that it’s more important to be satisfied with who you are and what you do than it is about conforming to standards and fitting in. That’s not to say everything that occurs is an example one should take from the film and try to apply in a real-world setting. Pulling a Peter Gibbons would most likely result in immediate termination. Approaching a cute waitress during the middle of lunch rush could lead to a slap in the face. . .or a cold shoulder. Not really. But, also. . .possibly yes. Money laundering is a definite no-no.
It’s less about what these people do than about what their actions represent that has made Judge’s pre-turn of the millennium film a cherished production in the eyes of many. So go on, smash a fax machine if you’re having a particularly shitty day. The greatest thing about Office Space is the usage of such simple objects to represent universal truths and experiences.
Some advice for the Bill Lumberghs of the world: if you ever find yourself contemplating taking shortcuts in your duties as it pertains to the well-being and employment status of your workers; if you snatch away our Swing Line staplers as though you were kidnapping our children; if you ever dare send us another copy of a goddamn T.P.S. report; if you so much as rearrange our desks one more time, consider yourself more than fairly warned. The next day you show up you could find your building burning to the ground.
Damn, it would feel good to be a gangster.
Recommendation: The film is one I’m pretty confident every one has seen at some point. If you haven’t, you have just lost some points with me. 🙂 In all seriousness, if you haven’t checked it out yet, you’ll be glad you did.
Running Time: 90 mins.
Quoted: “What would you say. . . . . . you do here?”
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Photo credits: http://www.imdb.com
Way to go for giving this some love Tom. There are so many great scenes (the opening credits involving the traffic jam, rap music and a black guy cleaning windscreens is inspired) and Stephen Root’s mumbling sack of repressed hatred Milton is simply brilliant.
hahahah exactly man! Milton might be atop the things I have as highlights of this gem. His frequent inability to make himself heard to anyone is just so damn funny, and then when he (doesn’t) get told he’s no longer an actual employee of the building. . . hahah! Stephen Root is amazing. Just, amazing.
The whole experience is. Definitely sits high on my all-time favorite comedies list.
I actually watched this for the first time not too long ago and absolutely loved it, an instant classic in my eyes. Top review mate!
Ah, very good to hear you say that Chris, it really is a classic in my book. Me and some high school buddies could forever banter back and forth using quotes from this movie, it’s so inspired. 😀
I had never even heard of this! Great review Tom! I might need to check it out!
Oh wow. Another one!!! 😀
See really what I should say is how supremely jealous I am of those who have yet to sit through this. You get to have that first-time experience and yet I’m damn well close to burning a hole in the disc it’s been put through so many DVD players and my laptop so many times. It’s high on my list of favorite films ever. But that’s just me.
I find you have a great sense of humor so I think you’ll dig this cult classic quite a bit Zoe.
Really? That good? I have to find this right now!
😀 Why thank you haha! You have truly piqued my interest…
I am so glad I have. It really is a modern classic. there’s so, so many unforgettable scenes here. Please let me know what you think of it when (if) you get to it! 😀
Looks like I may be losing points with you, and as a movie lover in general. I can honestly say that I have never heard of this. I’ve never had a job in a cubicle, but I’ve sure had some dull work experiences in my twenty one years of living. And I can clearly imagine office work being dull, and a great place for deadpan humor. You did provoke my interest in this film, so maybe I should give a try at some point or another. I’d hate to miss out!
You absolutely must see it!!! Haha its okay though, you’ll probalby find a way to redeem yourself some cool points in your next couple of reviews. 😉 I’ll temporarily forgive you. . .
It really is a great comedy man, I think you’ll quite enjoy yourself. It does help if you know precisely the situations these guys find themselves in, but its certainly not a requisite. It’s personally in my Top 10 favorite films of all time, so whatever that’s worth. 😀
I know that when I begin to get my 9-5 day-job, this movie will hit so much damn harder. For now, it’s just a really funny movie, from one of the geniuses of comedy. Good review Tom.
It probably does get better when you find yourself as one of those individuals represented by Peter and company, but good to see you also appreciate this film as a classic comedy. I freakin love it man! So many good scenes to watch again and again
Holy crap, love this movie and almost got an heart attack when my girl said she hadn’t seen it, so on my list of movies I have to get her to see. As for quotes love ” ‘PC Load Letter’? What the f@ck does that mean? ” 🙂
That is a solid one my friend, I honestly had a hell of a time narrowing down the vast amount of amazing quotes and one-liners from this for my Quoted section. I landed on a good one, but another is: “Oh you don’t need a million dollars to do nothing, man. Take a look at my cousin, he’s broke, don’t do shit.” lol
Haha oh yes…
Great review. That gangster song is so perfect for this movie. And this film is a bit cultish, but it is so very good at it.
Which I guess means I agree with you. 😉
😀 It’s an exceptionally memorable movie. I may have watched this one movie more than any other I’ve seen. I’m not sure why, but tthere’s something so perfect about this little thing that I can’t get enough of. The Gangster montage is classic, and only one of very many reasons I love this. Glad you do as well