A and A's Movie A Day

Watching movies until we run out.

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!

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June 25, 2010 - Posted by | daily reviews | , ,

2 Comments »

  1. Great review,I love this movie too.I have seen it it multiple times and it never gets old. I even have a .wav file that has Milton saying “I believe you have my stapler” whenever I get an email.
    Congrats on the new job,hope it’s not like Peter’s.

    Comment by Elaine Carpman | June 26, 2010 | Reply

    • I hope so too. Not that I think I would mind a soul-crushing desk job. But I’d put on so much weight with all the sitting around and not getting any exercise.

      Comment by tanatoes | June 26, 2010 | Reply


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