Office Space 1999 Movie Scene Ron Livingston as Peter pestered by his boss at his workplace

Office Space [1999]

Oh, how I laughed when I was watching this movie for the first time back in the early 2000s. I laughed not knowing that I’ll eventually end up in a position not too dissimilar from our spunky protagonists. In my youthful naivete, I thought I was going to become Lawrence, a beer-drinking fun-lovin’ neighbor. However, I’m getting ahead of myself a bit. So, let’s do this properly. Office Space is a hilarious, relatable, and above everything else, intelligent comedy about the life of an average office worker. The fact that our average office worker, Peter Gibbons, is actually a programmer doesn’t even matter. The corporate culture is the corporate culture.

We will be following him and his co-workers through a uniquely distressing, boring, and, ultimately extremely dangerous period of their lives. All the characters we’re going to meet are interesting. From frustrated Samir over energetic Bolton and jaded Tom to finally a bit psychotic Milton. Over the past ten years, I have been all these people, apart from the asshole boss Bill Lumbergh. This just proves how well-written Office Space is. It’s not a dumb comedy but a carefully crafted and exquisitely cynical look at the soul-sucking corporate culture. Moreover, it also examines the looming mid-life crisis, although in a passive way.

It’s clever but it never brags about it or shoves that in your face. A humble comedy with an infinite replay value. I mean, there’s a reason why so many scenes from this movie went on to become memes. The printer destruction scene featuring a bitchin’ soundtrack (Geto Boys – Still) might be the most famous one. The pacing is steady and the running time is just 90 minutes with one hell of a finale. So, it’s quite surprising that Office Space was a box office bomb. Many people have blamed the poor marketing campaign for that, including Mike Judge, writer and director of the movie. He hated the posters and trailers that were too long.

On the other hand, there were a lot of promo stunts that seemed like a good idea. For example, you could sign up and smash office equipment or report your asshole boss online. Additionally, there was a guy who lived in a Plexiglas cube above Times Square for five days. So, it’s not like they haven’t tried. The fact that the movie is about an average office worker also didn’t entice the audience to come and check it out. It goes without saying that in the following years, Office Space became a hugely popular cult classic. And if that name, Mike Judge, seems a bit familiar, it’s because he’s the creator of Beavis and Butt-Head.

And this was his first live-action movie after Beavis and Butt-Head Do America. It’s a true nineties working man’s masterpiece. If you ever worked in an office, you’ll recognize so many of these little things even after all this time. Even if you work from home, you’ll be able to get most of the jokes and situations. This is why one of the first communities to spread the good word about this movie was the IT one. In case you didn’t know Judge, who is actually an engineer who used to work for a certain graphics card company. After three months, he just quit as he couldn’t stand the job anymore. 

Here’s what he said about that experience: “The people I met were like Stepford Wives. They were true believers in something, and I don’t know what it was”. All this time, I was thinking of how I’m going to weave in another thought-provoking nineties masterpiece, Falling Down. And I guess I just did along with a bit longer analysis: A Man Past The Point of No Return. While we’re talking about other movies, I simply must mention 1989’s black comedy Weekend at Bernie’s. It also features a couple of office workers trying to deal with their nasty superior. Moving on, in the lead role we have Ron Livingston giving a pitch-perfect performance as the burnt-out programmer. 

Gary Cole was the perfect choice for his asshole boss, channeling his inner douchiness. We’ll also have the pleasure of watching John C. McGinley and Richard Riehle doing what they know best. Speaking of pleasures, young Jennifer Aniston plays Ron’s love interests here quite adequately. All of them deliver such memorable lines that here I am, a quarter of a century later, still repeating them. I think my favorite line from the Office Space is: “Uh-oh, sounds like somebody’s got a case of the Mondays.” Although “I could set the building on fire” is a fucking close second.

Finally, I just have to add that the breakthrough that happens during Peter’s hypnotherapy session is fucking glorious. I went through a similar experience of “not giving a fuck” but with meditation. It wasn’t so sudden and satisfying but at least it worked. If you’re looking for movies like Office Space do check out Mike Judge’s next movie Extract. Starring Jason Bateman, it flips the roles and focuses of a small business owner trying to keep things running in his extract factory. The television show Severance is also a great choice.

Director: Mike Judge

Writer: Mike Judge

Cast: Ron Livingston, David Herman, Ajay Naidu, Diedrich Bader, Gary Cole, Richard Riehle, Jennifer Aniston

Fun Facts: The character of Milton is based upon a real guy with whom Mike Judge used to work.


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