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Office Space (1999)

Every so often a movie or television series comes along that relates so well to real life and maybe even closer to your own that you wonder if the producers were watching you somehow for inspiration. Shows like Roseanne and Married with Children fit into that genre. How many situations were there on those shows that had you rolling on your couch in laughter that may have been similar to something that just had happened to you yesterday? Mike Judge (King of the Hill) must have been thinking something quite similar when he had the idea for Office Space. Based on his comic strip, Milton, he chronicles the life of an average American office worker. From that feeling of Monday morning after the weekend down to the cubicle that you’re stuck in and everything in between.

Ron Livingston plays Peter Gibbons, an employee of Initech, a pretty disgruntled employee to say the least. His job is to prepare the company’s software system for the Y2K conversion.
 The movie begins with him at the start of another week. He sits in traffic on Monday morning and can’t seem to get to work any faster no matter what lane he chooses. His frustration is fueled by the fact that an elderly man with a walker on the sidewalk next to him is traveling at a much faster pace than he is. When he arrives at work, he encounters his boss whom he absolutely hates. He, Bill Lumbergh (Gary Cole), immediately begins questioning him about a memo that was sent out about everyone using new cover sheets which Peter failed to do. After he explained that he simply made a mistake and apologized for it, he is reminded yet again from two more supervisors who also give him another copy of the infamous memo. His only friends at work, Michael Bolton (David Herman) who hates his name for obvious reasons and Samir Nagheenanajar (Ajay Naidu) who cannot get his name pronounced by anyone, run the IT department for the company and hate their jobs as well.

After attending a session with a relationship guru/hypnotist with his girlfriend who he doesn’t really like, he emerges carefree and relaxed as opposed to be stressed out and hating life every single day. He decides to ignore his boss’ request for him to come in to work on the weekend without even calling in to say so. He asks out a waitress, Joanna (Jennifer Aniston), whom he’d been eyeing for quite a while and begins to date her. He even shows no concern over the fact that Initech has announced that they are bringing in an “efficiency team” to help the company run a little better. This team, Bob and Bob (John C. Reilly and Paul Willson), are actually there to downsize the company and lay off those who they feel aren’t an asset. Everyone is interviewed by them, including Peter, who shows up in regular clothes to pick something up instead of to actually work but decides to go to his interview. He explains to the two Bobs that he stopped caring about his job years ago and this is due to the horrible upper management and that there really is no incentive for him to do anything anymore so he just stopped working. Upon hearing this, instead of laying him off, they decide to promote him to upper management and increase his salary with stock options. Unfortunately his buddies aren’t as lucky as they both get canned. Therefore, Peter hatches a plan to get back at the company by “electronically stealing” money from it by having portions of everyone’s paycheck be transferred into an account held by the three of them. That’s just one way to exact revenge at your former employer’s expense, literally.

Saying that this film has a lot of humor is an understatement. A comedy classic in its own time, everyone has either seen or heard jokes from this movie all over. The realism in it is some of the truest to life situations I’ve ever seen in a film. One scene has the trio beating the crap out of a fax machine that never seems to work. They take out their anger and frustration on this thing like it was a real live person even using a baseball bat to destroy it. There’s also Milton himself (Stephen Root), a very quiet subdued employee who eventually has had enough of being taken advantage of and shells out his out vengeance.

Mike Judge simply takes everyone’s thoughts about corporate America and puts it on the screen. When asked by his neighbor what he would do if he had a million dollars, Peter simply replies with “nothing, I would do nothing”. I, myself, will admit that even I feel like that a lot. If I could, I would stop working and just not do anything. Thoughts of endless relaxation come to mind. Sure, many people would consider that sheer laziness, but I don’t care and I know there are a lot of people out there that would share in doing nothing along with me and Peter. I think he really hit the nail on the head with that statement. Sometimes life, not just work, drives you so crazy that you’d rather not do anything at all. I for one hope to reach that seemingly impossible dream one day.

In addition to bringing real life to a point we can all laugh at, Office Space also puts that question out there of what we would do and how we would act if we just didn’t care anymore. I’m sure there are tons of us who wonder what it would be like and are waiting to enjoy that feeling ourselves one day. Hopelessly hoping that that special day comes soon, I give Office Space “3.5 TPS reports out of 5”.

-“I'm thinking I might take that new chick from Logistics. If things go well I might be showing her my O-face. "Oh... Oh... Oh!" You know what I'm talkin' about. "Oh!"


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