Mike Judge’s Office Space didn’t do well at the box office, but once it was released on video it became an instant cult classic. Anyone who has ever held a corporate job and spent their days toiling away on a computer while staring at gray cubicle walls has fallen in love with this film. Office Space is so over-quoted in the corporate world, that new hires out of college are often encouraged to watch the film, so they can be in on the joke. We’ve all had our Office Space moments and can easily identify with the three main characters. I, myself, was a regular side door user and would groan when a past boss would quote the models of jet airliners based on how late I was to work. With a torturous 7:30 A.M. starting time, I’d often hear, “You’re a 737 today. 747, huh? 757, that’s not the way to start out the week.” I fantasized that one day, I’d tell him, no, I’m an 800. It’s a new airplane. Asshole.”
The film centers on Peter Gibbons (Ron Livingston) who is dissatisfied with his job as a software engineer at his company, Initech. He accompanies his girlfriend to a hypnotherapy appointment, where he is hypnotized to calm down. Unfortunately, the doctor drops dead of a heart attack and Peter is never revived out of his relaxed state. He returns to work a new man and decides to stop showing up to work and basically does whatever the hell he wants. He even asks out the hot waitress, Joanna (Jennifer Aniston) at Chotchkie’s, the pseudo T.G.I.F. restaurant, where he takes his breaks. In a twist of irony, Peter’s lackadaisical approach to work ends up getting him a promotion to upper management, while his friends Michael Bolton (David Herman) and Samir Nagheenanajar (Ajay Naidu) get laid off. Peter convinces Michael and Samir that they need to get even with Initech, so the three hatch a plan to install a virus onto the credit union’s mainframe. The virus will in turn transfer a fraction of a cent to their bank account, resulting in a few hundred thousand dollars over a period of a couple of years, just like they did in Superman III.
What is unique about Office Space is that not only does it have constant observational humor throughout the entire film, but it even weaves an actual plot-line that has a proper inciting incident, climax, and resolution. Sometimes that is rare for farce-type comedies. Some of the best laughs are also purely action based and no dialogue is needed. Some examples are Michael playing gangster rap in his car at a deafening volume and then turning it down when the African-American homeless man walks by his car, Peter getting a static shock every time he opens the office door, Michael fighting a paper jam in the infamous fax machine, an “Is It Good For The Company?” banner, and a flow chart on a white board that is titled, “Planning to Plan.”
Some other great scenes involve Peter’s neighbor hearing him through the apartment wall and always telling him what channel to turn to so he can see a women’s breasts. Never mind that the commercial is a tutorial on women’s breast self-exams. There are two great montage sequences in Office Space. The first shows everything Peter does after his hypnosis. He parks in his boss’s parking space, tears down the motivational banner, guts a fish on his desk using computer paper, unscrews one cubicle wall so he has a window view, and eats Cheetos while playing Tetris, all while tuning out his droning boss, Bill Lumbergh, Division Vice President.
The second montage involves Peter, Michael, and Samir beating the shit out of the hated fax machine, with baseball bats, in an abandoned field. It’s done in the same vein of the classic mobster movie scenes, usually involving one of Joe Pesci’s characters beating someone to death.
Like all great comedies, Office Space is extremely quotable. With so many wonderful lines to choose from, my top five are:
1) When asked why he doesn’t abbreviate his name to Mike, because he shares his name with the popular 90’s singer, Michael replies, “No way! Why should I change? He’s the one that sucks.”
2) “PC Load Letter. What the f-ck does that mean?”
3) “What would you do if you had a million dollars?” “Besides two chicks at the same time? Nothing. I would relax…I would sit on my ass all day…I would do nothing.”
4) “So I was sitting in my cubicle today, and I realized, ever since I started working, every single day of my life has been worse than the day before it. So that means that every single day that you see me, that’s on the worst day of my life.”
5) “You know the Nazis had pieces of flair that they made the Jews wear.”
No matter how shitty your day at work was, coming home and watching Office Space is like eating a just warmed Soft Batch chocolate chip cookie. All your troubles will melt away, and you’ll be in a vegetative relaxed state by the time the credits roll.
Take a Drink: every time someone says, “TPS Reports.”
Take a Drink: every time you see Bill Lumbergh carrying his Initech mug.
Take a Drink: every time Bill Lumbergh says, “Yeah.”
Do a Shot: every time someone says, “Somebody’s got a case of the Mondays.”
Shotgun a Beer: when you see Milton’s red Swingline stapler.