A and A's Movie A Day

Watching movies until we run out.

Movie 117 – Office Space

Office Space – June 25th, 2010

So, we were saving this one a little, and then when we could have watched it we were doing Futurama, but now we’re done with Futurama movies and Andy’s got a new job and what better way to celebrate a new job than a movie about a guy who hates his job? And have I mentioned Andy’s got a new job? We’re very excited. Also? Coincidentally, Dave Herman, who plays poor Michael Bolton in this? Is a voice actor for Futurama. He plays Scruffy. The janitor. This was unintentional, but also hilarious.

Anyhow, Peter Gibbons hates his job. It’s easy to see why. It’s a soulless and mindless job. He gets a chance to describe his day to two consultants the company, Initech, brings in to help downsize. He explains to them that he spends at least two hours a day zoned out while making it look like he’s working. He’s got eight bosses and his only motivation is to keep them from hassling him. “It’s not that I’m lazy,” he tells them. “It’s that I just don’t care.” And then there are the TPS reports. But we find all this out after Peter’s girlfriend makes him go to a hypnotherapist to help him with his job loathing. The hypnotherapist dies before he can snap Peter out of his trance and Peter ends up in a blissful state where he simply ceases to care about the consequences of his actions. Hence the total and complete frank honesty with the consultants and a truly beautiful sequence of scenes of him showing up at work in flip flops, tipping over a wall of his cubicle to give himself a window, and gutting a fish at his desk.

To be quite honest, there are two things I could watch in this movie over and over again. Peter’s whole uber-calm work rebellion that ends up somehow earning him a promotion, and the scene where he and two of his coworkers brutally destroy a printer/FAX that never once works right in the entire movie. Everyone’s experienced a piece of equipment like this. Essential to some duty but buggy as shit on a hot day and too expensive to replace. Peter and his friends, Samir and Michael (Bolton – no relation to the pop singer, thanks) go at it with a baseball bat and their feet after Samir and Michael are laid off. It’s a gloriously satisfying scene, done in slow motion so you can really relish the destruction.

Anyhow, after Samir and Michael find out they’re getting laid off, but before their last day, Peter remembers something Michael said about being able to program a virus that would gut the company like the fish Peter had on his desk. He talks them into putting it into action before they go and they set up a program that they describe by referencing Superman 3, but I always think of as the Hackers virus. It skims off fractions of cents and deposits the money into an account they’ve set up. And it’s all done in the name of getting a dig in against Initech and their hateful boss, Bill Lumbergh. Meanwhile Peter’s having a grand time, doing nothing and getting paid for it, just like he always wanted, and dating Joanna, a waitress from a nearby restaurant who he’s had a crush on for ages.

Of course it all eventually falls apart. Peter finds out Joanna’s slept with Lumbergh, she gets pissed off when he gets upset. Peter finds out the virus stole a lot more than they intended it to, thanks to a misplaced decimal in Michael’s code. Everyone freaks out for a while. Until the building burns down thanks to one of the great comedic devices in this movie, a character named Milton who’s obsessed with his red Swinline stapler and who provides a running mumbled monologue peppered with vague threats.

It’s a movie about how much work sucks, but how you just can’t avoid it. Sure, you could snap and commit arson, but really, that’s no way to give your notice. Unless you’re Milton. Everything in it is parody bordering on reality. I’ve managed to avoid cubicle jobs myself, but I witnessed some impressive Lumberghian behavior in college (thankfully not directed at me – student workers weren’t important enough to get treated like crap) and heard plenty from friends and family. Two in particular have jobs that are nowhere near a company like Initech and still, I see some painfully close comparisons. It’s sort of like This is Spinal Tap in that regard I think. But in the end everyone’s still got to work (well, all the main characters) and Peter, Samir and Michael never reap the benefits of their scheme. The thing is, they seem happier having escaped without any trouble, remaining free to get new jobs and go on with their lives. The movie isn’t a heist flick. It’s a comedy about regular people staying regular people. And a love story about a man and his stapler.

June 25, 2010 Posted by | daily reviews | , , , | Leave a comment

Office Space

June 25, 2010

Office Space

I’m starting a new job soon. I went into town today to fill out my I-9 and such. To celebrate my newly employed status we’re watching today the quintessential movie about hating your rotten job. I’m not sure that really makes sense, but there you go. It’s nice to have an excuse to watch this movie again.

Ron Livington is instantly likable as Peter Gibbons, a guy trapped in a menial cubical job. He has eight overlapping bosses. When he forgets to put the cover sheet on his TPS report he hears about it from boss after boss after boss. His awful immediate boss Bill makes him work weekends. His friends Samir and Michael buckle under, deal with the daily grind, deal with the copy machine that never works, deal with the people who ridicule their names. Peter can’t cope with it any more though. He’s going to snap.

And snap he does. In the most glorious and wonderful way. When his demanding girlfriend takes him to a occupational hypnotherapist, and his hypnotist dies during the therapy Peter is suddenly able to let go of all the stress from his job and start doing what he’s always wanted to do with his life: nothing. “I did absolutely nothing, and it was everything I thought it could be.” He hangs up on his bitch of a girlfriend, who promptly breaks up with him (she was cheating on him anyhow.) He doesn’t come in on the weekend. When he has to interview with some consultants that his company has hired to downsize he unabashedly tells them everything that is wrong with his job.

It’s a glorious piece of satirical whimsy that portrays just exactly what could happen if somebody gave in and gave up on that horrible job that has been slowly killing them. There’s a reason that movies like this and comic strips like Dilbert have enjoyed such success. Everybody hates their job sometimes, and everybody wants to tell their boss what they really think. This kind of wish fulfillment fantasy plays a vital role, allowing the desk jockeys of the world to let off some steam, lest they become like Milton, the mumbling twitchy fellow in the movie who is entirely incapable of communicating with anybody.

And, really, this movie is astonishingly well made as well. It’s brilliantly well written by Mike Judge, creator of Beavis and Butthead and King of the Hill. It’s filled with memorable quotable moments and characters. I don’t believe there’s a person who has ever watched this movie who subsequently didn’t find themselves muttering at times like Milton “Okay. I’m going to set the building on fire.” Like Dilbert’s pointy-haired boss the awkward “Yeah, hi” of Peter’s boss Bill has become a cultural touchstone for everything that can be wrong with middle management. Heck, this movie is even famous for creating and bringing to ubiquitous popularity the once fictional red Swingline stapler.

Every character in the movie is iconic, to such a degree that Ron Livingston will probably never be, in my mind, anything except the affable Peter. And the girl who plays his new girlfriend in the movie, Jennifer Aniston (who I understand has done some other stuff as well, although I don’t own anything else she’s been in I don’t think) will always be the Kung Fu loving and basically kind-hearted waitress that Peter is head over heels in love with. I can’t imagine that Stephen Root will ever escape the role of Milton either. (I’m sure people are always asking him to do that mumbling stream of consciousness drone of his.)

I’m happy to say that although I’ve often hated my job I’ve never really snapped like this. Partially thanks to Mike Judge and the existence of this wonderful movie. I’m really looking forward to hating my all-new job soon as well. Wish me luck!

June 25, 2010 Posted by | daily reviews | , , | 2 Comments