Office Space - A Brilliant Perspective On Corporate Cubicles

                            Have you ever worked in a cubicle? Have you ever hated your job? If the answer is yes, then this little gem of a movie is for you, who have had the life and soul stomped out by an uncaring corporate entity. This movie is for everyone who's given a hundred percent to their work, only to be tossed out during the first hint of recession. Written and directed by Mike Judge, "Office Space" is a satirical comedy about white-collar wage-slavery. 

                            In Office Space, all the irritating character found in corporate culture is well represented,  from the ever-perky receptionist  to a berated senior VP. Initech, the fictional computer software firm depicted in this film has these evil qualities: lousy, tedious, standardized working conditions; self-absorbed management; and a policy of hiring and firing that has nothing to do with an employee's merits, but everything to do with the whim of management and their stock options.

         The movie opens with a massive traffic jam in which the drivers, enclosed in their cars, give play to their secret selves. Peter Gibbons (Ron Livingston) comes apart; meek Michael (David Herman) blasts rap music but is careful to lock his doors. These guys are computer programmers on route to their jobs at the monolithic Initech Corporation. Peter is just one captive in this cubicled hell, who stares depressed at his computer all day. Samir (Ajay Naidu) is a savvy programmer who has to suffer the indignity of no one being able to pronounce his last name.

              When Peter's girlfriend suggests hypnotherapy, he decides to give it a go. The doctor keeps him into a deep hypnotic state, where all his work-related cares slip away. Only trouble is, the doctor keels over from a heart attack before he can bring Peter out of it. But the doctor's death has an unexpected upside. Furthermore, Peter is freed of chronic anxieties about his work and becomes totally immune to fears of unemployment or the orders of his soulless boss (Gary Cole). To be brief, he stops caring and starts living. 

              Coming late to work, or not at all, he's so high-handed in his unconcern that, instead of being fired, he's recommended for an upper-level position. The less he pays attention, the more he's valued. But he is no sellout. Peter organizes a scheme with Michael, Samir, to spoil Initech, and he also enlists a newfound waitress girlfriend, Joanna (Jennifer Aniston), who has her own job woes.

                Ron Livingston as Peter is a hero for the everyman, and he has the good looks and easygoing charm to bring genuine leading-man charisma to the role. He strikes a deft balance between unconcern and bewilderment. As his partners in crime and co-workers, David Herman and Ajay Naidu lend strong support while earning their own fair share of laughs. The movie also gets solid laughs from some of the eccentric employees at Initech, especially from Stephen Root as Milton, who is an odd, mumbling, overweight man with bad skin and thick glasses that magnify his eyes so that they seem to be bugging out of his head. Another standout is Cole as the soft-spoken, self-absorbed boss from hell. 

               The only weakest part of the movie is a half-hearted subplot regarding a romance between Livingston and a waitress also fed up with her job, played by Jennifer Aniston. This little romantic episode adds nothing to the story. The plot of this movie is merely a bare structure on which director Mike Judge hangs all his resentful attacks on the theories of corporate management. He takes something as a commute-hour traffic jam and turn it into an opening scene that has tears of laughter running down our faces. At one brief point, he adds a rap soundtrack to a scene, where the three co-workers take a baseball bat to a fax machine, which looks like a Tarantino-esque slow-mo or freeze-frame shot. The shots might be basic and simplistic, but the narrative is strong and the characters are all well-drawn.

                Up to now, there hasn't been many comedies about the attitudes of white-collar kids entangled in corporate purgatory. This tale could be taking place anywhere. And that will make it even easier for many young frustrated workers to savor its universal resonances and ticklish experiences. You don't have to be a corporate employee to enjoy Judge's satire, but "Office Space" is even more fun if you can recognize the bitter truths beneath the hilarious gags.

              At a running time of 89 minutes, 'Office Space' is a classic example of  how a worker takes his position way too seriously, which, in all likelihood, is Judge's argument in the long run: It's just work. Live your life. "Office Space" lets us indirectly enjoy all the things we'd like to do at work.


Office Space - IMDb 


Haricharan Pudipeddi said...

lovely movie :) I learnt so much from it. Quite a nice analysis of the film. You should also watch 'Swimming with Sharks'

Mak said...

goes into my watch list Arun. Thank you. I did read a part of this review :) well that is unusual of me since i dont like to read before i watch it. You got me.

Anonymous said...

I love this movie to bits, especially the character played by Milton, and his boss tells him to keep moving his desk around, and the way he mumbles each time.

Would love to see an article from you, on two of my favorite movies: Das Boot and "100 days with mr.arrogant".

Zach George said...

One more on the list. Thanks Arun :)

Arun Kumar said...

@Haricharan, Thanks for the comment. I have watched "Swimming With Sharks" It was also good, will do a review on that later.

@Mak, Thank you. Keep visiting.

Arun Kumar said...

@sugeeth scribbles, Thanks for the comment. Yeah, Stephen Root's Milton was one of the characters in the movie. We could see a person like that in a office.

@Zach, Thanks for visiting, and do watch the movie.

Unknown said...

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