Office Space

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Office Space
Office space poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Mike Judge
Produced by Daniel Rappaport
Michael Rotenberg
Written by Mike Judge
Starring Ron Livingston
Jennifer Aniston
Stephen Root
Gary Cole
Music by John Frizzell
Cinematography Tim Suhrstedt
Editing by David Rennie
Distributed by 20th Century Fox
Release dates
  • February 19, 1999 (1999-02-19)
Running time 85 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $10 million
Box office $12,827,813 [1]
$7,960,168 (US DVD sales)[2]

Office Space is a 1999 American comedy film written and directed by Mike Judge. Satirizing work life in a typical 1990s software company, it focuses on a handful of individuals fed up with their jobs portrayed by Ron Livingston, Jennifer Aniston, Gary Cole, David Herman, Ajay Naidu, and Diedrich Bader.

The film's sympathetic depiction of ordinary IT workers garnered a cult following within that field, but also addresses themes familiar to white collar employees in general.

Shot in Las Colinas and Austin, Texas, Office Space is based on Judge's Milton cartoon series. It was his first foray into live action film and second full-length motion picture release.

While not a box office success, the film has sold well on DVD and VHS, and has become recognized as a cult classic.[3]

Plot[edit]

Peter Gibbons, a disgruntled programmer at Initech, spends his days "staring at his desk" instead of actually working. His co-workers include Samir Nagheenanajar, who is annoyed by the fact that nobody can pronounce his last name correctly; Michael Bolton, who loathes having the same name as the famous singer, whom he hates; and Milton Waddams, a meek, fixated collator who constantly mumbles to himself. Milton had actually been laid off years earlier, though he was never informed and, due to a payroll computer glitch, continues to receive regular paychecks. All four are repeatedly mistreated by management, especially Initech's smarmy, callous vice president, Bill Lumbergh. The staff are further agitated by the arrival of two consultants, Bob Slydell and Bob Porter, who are brought in to help the company through downsizing and outsourcing.

Peter's girlfriend Anne convinces him to attend an 'occupational hypnotherapy' session, but the therapist, Dr. Swanson, dies of a heart attack right after hypnotizing Peter. The newly relaxed Peter wakes up the next morning and ignores continued calls from Anne (who angrily leaves him and admits she's been cheating, confirming his friends' suspicions) and Lumbergh (who was expecting Peter to work over the weekend). The following work day, Peter decides to skip work and asks Joanna, a waitress at Chotchkie's (a parody of T.G.I. Friday's), out to lunch. Joanna shares Peter's loathing of idiotic management and love of the television program Kung Fu.

When Peter finally shows up at work, he disregards Initech's dress code, takes Lumbergh's reserved parking spot, and refuses to follow Lumbergh's directions. He also removes items that annoy him, such as a door handle that repeatedly shocked him and a cubicle wall that blocks his view out the window. The consultants, however, decide to promote him because of the positive impression he makes on them with his bluntness about the office's problems. Peter then learns that Michael and Samir's jobs will be eliminated, and the trio decide to get even by infecting Initech's accounting system with a computer virus designed to divert fractions of pennies into a bank account they control. They believe the scheme will succeed because the amounts are too small for Initech to notice, while over time they will receive a substantial amount of money. On Michael and Samir's last day at Initech, Peter takes one last item: a frequently-malfunctioning printer, which the three beat to pieces in a field.

To his horror, Peter discovers that a misplaced decimal point caused the virus to steal $305,326.13 in the first few days, a far more conspicuous loss to Initech. Haunted by the result, he admits to Joanna – who has finally worked up the courage to stand up to her boss and quit Chotchkie's – that the scheme was a bad idea and that he plans to accept the blame for the crime. He writes a letter confessing everything, then slips an envelope containing the letter and the money (in unsigned traveler's checks) under the door of Lumbergh's office late at night. The next morning, Milton – having been deprived of his cherished red Swingline stapler by Lumbergh, forced to move to the cockroach-infested basement, and having had his paychecks finally cut off – enters Lumbergh's office to reclaim his stapler.

Fully expecting to be arrested upon arriving at work, Peter instead finds that his problem has solved itself: the Initech building is fully engulfed in flames, implying that Milton has finally made good on his quiet threats to destroy the company for slighting him and that all evidence of the missing money was destroyed. Peter finally finds a job that he likes: doing construction work with his next-door neighbor, Lawrence. As the two of them are cleaning up debris from the fire, Lawrence discovers Milton's stapler. Peter takes it, saying he thinks he knows someone who might want it. Samir and Michael drop by and offer to recommend Peter for a job at Initech's rival, Initrode, where they have secured new jobs. Peter declines, content with his new job and life. Meanwhile, Milton lounges on the beach at a fancy Mexican resort, but he is still not happy; he is heard mumbling complaints about his beverage and threatening to take his traveler's checks (which he found in Lumbergh's office) to a competitor.

Cast[edit]

Production[edit]

Shot primarily in Austin, Texas, Office Space has its origins in a series of four animated short films about an office drone named Milton that Mike Judge created, which first aired on Liquid Television and Night After Night with Allan Havey, and later aired on Saturday Night Live.[4] The inspiration came from a temp job he once had that involved alphabetizing purchase orders[5] and a job he had as an engineer for three months in the Bay Area during the 1980s, "just in the heart of Silicon Valley and in the middle of that overachiever yuppie thing, it was just awful".[6] The setting of the film reflected a prevailing trend that Judge observed in the United States. "It seems like every city now has these identical office parks with identical adjoining chain restaurants", he said in an interview.[4] He remembers, "There were a lot of people who wanted me to set this movie in Wall Street, or like the movie Brazil, but I wanted it very unglamorous, the kind of bleak work situation like I was in".[5]

Judge sold the film to 20th Century Fox based on his script and a cast that included Jennifer Aniston, Ron Livingston, and David Herman.[4] Originally, the studio wanted to make a film out of the Milton character but Judge was not interested, opting instead to make more of an ensemble cast–based film.[6] The studio suggested he make a movie like Car Wash but "just set in an office".[6] Judge made the relatively painless transition from animation to live-action with the help of the film's director of photography who taught him about lenses and where to put the camera. Judge says, "I had a great crew, and it's good going into it not pretending you're an expert".[5] Studio executives were not happy with the footage Judge was getting. He remembers them telling him, "More energy! More energy! We gotta reshoot it! You're failing! You're failing!"[7] In addition, Fox did not like the gangsta rap music used in the film until a focus group approved of it. Judge hated the ending and felt that a complete rewrite of the third act was necessary.[7]

Film poster[edit]

Judge also hated the poster that the studio created for Office Space (which portrayed an office worker completely covered in Post-it notes). He said, "People were like, 'What is this? A big bird? A mummy? A beekeeper?' And the tagline 'Work Sucks'? It looked like an Office Depot ad. I just hated it. I hated the trailers, too and the TV ads especially".[7] Fox Filmed Entertainment chairman Tom Rothman conceded that the marketing campaign did not work and said, "Office Space isn't like American Pie. It doesn't have the kind of jokes you put in a 15-second television spot of somebody getting hit on the head with a frying pan. It's sly. And let me tell you, sly is hard to sell".[7]

Reception[edit]

The Monday following the opening weekend, Judge received a phone call from Jim Carrey's agent. The comedian loved the film and wanted to meet him, and Chris Rock called two weeks later.[7]

Box office[edit]

Office Space was released on February 19, 1999 in 1,740 theatres, grossing USD$4,231,727 on its opening weekend. It went on to make $10,827,810 in North America.[8] In addition to this gross, $2 million was made internationally,[9] 6 million copies in DVD, BluRay and VHS sales[9] since February 12, 2006.[10]

Critical response[edit]

The film received positive reviews[7] with a 79% "Certified Fresh" rating on Rotten Tomatoes and 68 metascore on Metacritic. In his review in The New York Times, Stephen Holden wrote, "It has the loose-jointed feel of a bunch of sketches packed together into a narrative that doesn't gather much momentum."[11] Roger Ebert gave the film three out of four stars and wrote that Judge "treats his characters a little like cartoon creatures. That works. Nuances of behavior are not necessary, because in the cubicle world every personality trait is magnified, and the captives stagger forth like grotesques".[12] In his review for the San Francisco Chronicle, Mick LaSalle writes, "Livingston is nicely cast as Peter, a young guy whose imagination and capacity for happiness are the very things making him miserable."[13] In USA Today, Susan Wloszczyna wrote, "If you've ever had a job, you'll be amused by this paean to peons."[14]

However, Owen Gleiberman in Entertainment Weekly gave the film a "C" rating and criticized it for feeling "cramped and underimagined".[15] In his review for the Globe and Mail, Rick Groen wrote, "Perhaps his TV background makes him unaccustomed to the demands of a feature-length script (the ending seems almost panicky in its abruptness), or maybe he just succumbs to the lure of the easy yuk...what began as discomfiting satire soon devolves into silly farce."[16]

In 2008, Entertainment Weekly named Office Space one of "The 100 best films from 1983 to 2008", ranking it at #73.[17]

Legacy[edit]

Cult status[edit]

Office Space has become a cult classic, selling well on home video and DVD.[3] As of 2003, it had sold 2.6 million copies on VHS and DVD.[18] In the same year, it was in the top 20 best-selling Fox DVDs along with There's Something About Mary.[19]

Entertainment Weekly ranked it fifth on its list "25 Great Comedies From the Past 25 Years", despite having originally given the film a poor review.[20]

On February 8, 2009, a reunion of the cast (featuring many of the cast members) took place at the Paramount Theatre in Austin to celebrate the tenth anniversary of the film, which included the destruction of a printer on the sidewalk.[21]

Television[edit]

Comedy Central premiered Office Space on August 5, 2001 and 1.4 million viewers tuned in. By 2003, the channel had broadcast the film another 35 times.[19] These broadcasts helped develop the film's cult following and Ron Livingston remembers being approached by college students and office workers. He said, "I get a lot of people who say, 'I quit my job because of you.' That's kind of a heavy load to carry."[19] People approached Stephen Root asking him to sign their staplers. The Red Swingline stapler featured prominently in the film was not available until April 2002 when the company released it in response to repeated requests by fans of the film. Its appearance in the film was achieved by taking a standard Swingline stapler and spray-painting it red.[19]

Soundtrack[edit]

Office Space: Motion Picture Soundtrack
Soundtrack album by various artists
Released February 18, 1999
Genre Hip hop, Rap
Length 44:35
Label Interscope
Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 4.5/5 stars[22]
Track listing
No. Title Writer(s) Performer(s) Length
1. "Shove This Jay-Oh-Bee" (contains portions of "Take This Job and Shove It" by Johnny Paycheck, 1977) Canibus, Salaam Remi,
David Allan Coe
Canibus with Biz Markie 4:21
2. "Get Dis Money"   T3, Baatin, Jay Dee Slum Village 3:36
3. "Get Off My Elevator"   Kool Keith, KutMasta Kurt Kool Keith 3:46
4. "Big Boss Man" (cover of Jimmy Reed, 1960) Luther Dixon, Al Smith Junior Reid 3:46
5. "9-5" (Cover of Dolly Parton, 1980) Dolly Parton Lisa Stone 3:40
6. "Down for Whatever" (from Lethal Injection, 1993) Ice Cube, Madness 4 Real Ice Cube 4:40
7. "Damn It Feels Good to Be a Gangsta" (from Uncut Dope: Geto Boys' Best, 1992) Scarface, John Okuribido, James Prince Geto Boys 5:09
8. "Home"   Benny Wise, C. Hernandez, N. Vasquez, John Forte Blackman, Destruct & Icon 4:22
9. "No Tears" (from The Diary, 1994) Scarface, N.O. Joe Scarface 2:27
10. "Still" (from The Resurrection, 1996) Willie D, Scarface, N.O Joe Geto Boys 4:03
11. "Mambo #8" (from Pérez Prado Plays Mucho Mambo For Dancing, 1952) Prado Perez Prado 2:06
12. "Peanut Vendor" (from Havana, 3 A.M., 1956) Moises Simons Perez Prado 2:39

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Office Space - Summary". The Numbers. Retrieved 2013-12-15. 
  2. ^ "Office Space - Video Sales". The Numbers. Retrieved 2013-12-15. 
  3. ^ a b Doty, Meriah (March 4, 2003). "Film flops flourish on DVD, VHS". CNN. Retrieved 2008-09-18. 
  4. ^ a b c Fierman, Daniel (February 26, 1999). "Judge's Dread". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved 2007-08-16. 
  5. ^ a b c Beale, Lewis (February 21, 1999). "Mr. Beavis Goes to Work". New York Daily News. Retrieved 2013-05-03. 
  6. ^ a b c Sherman, Paul (February 21, 1999). "Humorist is a good Judge of office angst". Boston Herald. 
  7. ^ a b c d e f Valby, Karen (May 23, 2003). "The Fax of Life". Entertainment Weekly. p. 41. Retrieved 2008-12-05. 
  8. ^ "Office Space". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 2008-09-18. 
  9. ^ a b "Office Space". the-numbers.com. Retrieved December 27, 2011. 
  10. ^ "Office Space - DVD sales". the-numbers.com. Retrieved December 27, 2011. 
  11. ^ Holden, Stephen (February 19, 1999). "Film Review; One Big Happy Family? No, Not At This Company". The New York Times. Retrieved 2013-05-03. 
  12. ^ Ebert, Roger (February 19, 1999). "Office Space". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved 2008-09-18. 
  13. ^ LaSalle, Mick (February 19, 1999). "Workers' Souls Lost In Space". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved 2008-09-18. 
  14. ^ Wioszczyna, Susan (February 19, 1999). "No Frills Office Party". USA Today. p. 13.E. Retrieved 2013-05-11 – via Proquest Archiver. (subscription required)
  15. ^ Gleiberman, Owen (March 5, 1999). "Office Space". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved 2008-09-18. 
  16. ^ Groen, Rick (February 19, 1999). "Workplace satire almost does the job". Globe and Mail (Toronto). Archived from the original on 2009-01-16. Retrieved 2008-09-18. 
  17. ^ "The New Classics: Movies". Entertainment Weekly (999-1000). June 16, 2008. Retrieved 2013-05-03. 
  18. ^ Valby 2003, p. 39.
  19. ^ a b c d Valby 2003, p. 42.
  20. ^ "The Comedy 25: The Funniest Movies of the Past 25 Years". Entertainment Weekly. August 27, 2008. Retrieved 2008-08-27. 
  21. ^ ""Office Space" Turns 10". KTBC. February 8, 2009. Archived from the original on 2009-02-11. Retrieved 2013-05-11. 
  22. ^ Bregman, Adam. Office Space at AllMusic. Retrieved January 30, 2012.

External links[edit]