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Office Space

                   
Office Space

Theatrical release poster
Directed by Mike Judge
Produced by Daniel Rappaport
Michael Rotenberg
Written by Mike Judge
Starring Ron Livingston
Jennifer Aniston
David Herman
Ajay Naidu
Diedrich Bader
Gary Cole
Stephen Root
John C. McGinley
Music by John Frizzell
Cinematography Tim Suhrstedt
Editing by David Rennie
Distributed by 20th Century Fox
Release date(s)
  • February 19, 1999 (1999-02-19)
Running time 89 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $10 million
Box office $10,827,810 domestic[1], $2,000,000 international[2], $6,000,000 in DVD and VHS sales[2] since February 12, 2006[3]

Office Space is a 1999 American comedy film satirizing work life in a typical 1990s software company. Written and directed by Mike Judge, 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.

The promotional campaign for Office Space featured the familiar Beavis and Butt-head tagline 'Work Sucks', reinforcing Judge's debut in the animated Beavis and Butt-head Do America.

While not a box office success, the film sold well on DVD and VHS.[4]

Contents

  Plot

  Milton's stapler

Peter Gibbons (Ron Livingston) is a disgruntled programmer at Initech, a software company plagued by bureaucracy and excessive management. He spends his days "staring at his desk" instead of reprogramming bank software to be Y2K-compliant. His co-workers include Samir Nagheenanajar (Ajay Naidu), who is annoyed by the fact that nobody can pronounce his last name correctly; Michael Bolton (David Herman), who loathes having the same name as the famous singer, whom he hates; and Milton Waddams (Stephen Root), a meek, fixated collator who constantly mumbles to himself (most notably about his workmates' borrowing his favorite red Swingline stapler and about his plan or threat to set the workplace on fire). Milton had actually been laid off years earlier, but due to a human-resources miscommunication, he was never informed, and due to a payroll computer glitch, he has continued to receive regular paychecks. All four are repeatedly bullied and harassed by management, especially Initech's smarmy, callous vice president, Bill Lumbergh (Gary Cole). The staff are further agitated by the arrival of two consultants, Bob Slydell (John C. McGinley) and Bob Porter (Paul Willson), who are brought in to help with cutting expenses, mainly through downsizing.

Peter is depressed, bored, and pushed around at work. He attends an 'occupational hypnotherapy' session urged by his girlfriend, Anne. The obese hypnotherapist, Dr. Swanson (Mike McShane), suddenly dies of a heart attack before he can snap Peter out of a state of complete relaxation. The newly relaxed and still half-hypnotized Peter wakes up the next morning and ignores continued calls from Anne (who angrily leaves him, confirming his friends' suspicions of her infidelity) and Lumbergh (who was expecting Peter to work over the weekend). Peter announces that he will simply not go to work anymore, instead pursuing his lifelong dream of "doing nothing." However, he changes his mind and makes an appearance at work, and at his lunch hour, asks out Joanna (Jennifer Aniston), a waitress who shares Peter's loathing of idiotic management and love of the television program Kung Fu. Joanna works at Chotchkie's, a restaurant that plays on T.G.I. Friday's interior decoration and uniform standards (Joanna's frustration with her occupation eventually culminates in an argument with her boss and her dismissal after she gives him the finger in front of some customers).

Peter begins removing items at work that annoy him (a door handle that had shocked him on previous occasions, corporate slogan banners, a wall of his cubicle that blocks his view) and finally he parks in Lumbergh's reserved parking spot. Despite Peter's poor attendance record, laziness and insubordination, he is promoted by the consultants because of the positive impression he makes on them with his bluntness about the office's problems (specifically the overabundance of management).

Meanwhile, Michael and Samir are downsized. To exact revenge on Initech, the three friends, inspired by Richard Pryor's character from Superman III, decide to infect the accounting system with a computer virus, designed to divert fractions of pennies into a bank account they control. They believe the scheme to be foolproof because they think that over a long period of time they will be able to accumulate a substantial amount of money in units so small (mills) that companies generally don't bother keeping track of them. On their last day at Initech, Peter also steals a parting gift from the office: a frequently-malfunctioning laser printer, which the three beat to pieces in a field.

A misplaced decimal point causes the virus to steal over $300,000 in the first few days, a far more conspicuous loss to Initech. After a crisis of conscience and a discussion with Joanna, Peter writes a letter in which he takes all the blame for the crime, 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. He fully expects to be arrested the next morning when he comes in to work, but his problem solves itself: before Peter arrives, Milton—having been deprived of his cherished red Swingline stapler by Lumbergh, increasingly ignored by management, forced to move to the cockroach-infested basement, and having had his paychecks finally cut off—enters Lumbergh's office to discuss the matter, whereupon he finds the traveler's checks under the door. He snaps, takes the traveler's checks, and proceeds to follow through on his numerous (if barely audible) warnings that he could set fire to the Initech office building. As Peter nears the Initech building, he can see that it is fully engulfed in flames and realizes that all evidence of the missing money must have been destroyed.

Peter finally finds a job that he likes: doing construction work with his next-door neighbor, Lawrence (Diedrich Bader). As the two of them are helping clean up debris from the fire, Samir and Michael visit Peter and offer to recommend him for a job at Initech rival Intertrode, where they have gotten new jobs. He declines, expressing new-found contentment with his place in life. After Samir and Michael leave, Peter discovers Milton's stapler among the wreckage and saves it, saying, "I think I know someone who might want this."

The last scene reveals the fate of the missing money; Milton is seen lounging on the beach at a Caribbean resort, mumbling complaints about his beverage.

  Cast

  Peter Gibbons (left) with Drew, who is doing the "O-face"

Artie Lange auditioned for the role of Milton.[5] He describes his audition as being so bad it was "like a plumber who won a radio contest and got to try out for a movie".

  Production

Filmed primarily in Austin, Texas, the origins for Office Space lie 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.[6] The inspiration came from a temp job he once had that involved alphabetizing purchase orders[7] 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".[8] 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.[6] 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".[7]

Judge sold the film to 20th Century Fox based on his script and a cast that included Jennifer Aniston, Ron Livingston, and David Herman.[6] Originally, the studio wanted to make a movie out of the Milton character but Judge was not interested, opting instead to make more of an ensemble cast–based film.[8] The studio suggested he make a movie like Car Wash but "just set in an office".[8] 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".[7] 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!"[9] 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.[9]

Judge also hated the poster that the studio created for Office Space. 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".[9] 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".[9]

  Reception

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.[10] On the Monday after the opening weekend, Judge received a phone call from Jim Carrey's agent. The comedian loved the film and wanted to meet him. Chris Rock called two weeks later.[9]

The film received positive reviews[9] with an 80% "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 the 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

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

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.[20] 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".[20] 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 Office Space. Its appearance in the film was achieved by taking a standard Swingline stapler and spray-painting it red. [20] 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.[21] On February 8, 2009, a reunion of the cast (featuring all cast members apart from Livingston and Aniston) took place at the Paramount Theatre in Austin to celebrate the 10-year anniversary of the movie, which included the destruction of a printer on the sidewalk.[22]

In 2006, Blizzard Entertainment used the scene from Office Space where Peter was about to have a meeting with "The Bobs" and Bill Lumbergh walks up to his desk, as a commercial for their MMO video game World of Warcraft.[23]

RockYou created an app on Facebook which allows users to create, share, and show "pieces of flair" -- buttons with different pictures and captions, a reference to the buttons worn by wait staff at Chotchkies in the film.

Foursquare created a "9 to 5" badge for users who check-in in an office building at least 15 days out of 30. When a user unlocks this badge, a quote referencing Office Space appears: "Looks like someone's filed 15 TPS reports in 30 days. Ummm... Yeeaahh... we're gonna need to go ahead and move you downstairs into Storage B."

The scene where Peter, Michael and Samir destroy a printer is reproduced in identical form in the animated series Family Guy [Season 7, Episode 2, "I Dream of Jesus"].[24]

In 2011, Gary Cole played a Bill Lumbergh-esque character for a State Farm Insurance commercial.

The MMO Guild Wars has a dungeon that references the film, including a red asuraline staff, a TPS regulator Golem, and a character that repeatedly threatens to burn the lab down.

  Soundtrack

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[25]
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

  PC LOAD LETTER error, parodied in Office Space

  References

  1. ^ "Office Space (1999)". Box Office Mojo. February 19, 1999. http://boxofficemojo.com/movies/?id=officespace.htm. Retrieved December 27, 2011. 
  2. ^ a b "Office Space". the-numbers.com. http://www.the-numbers.com/movies/1999/OFFIC.php. Retrieved December 27, 2011. 
  3. ^ "Office Space - DVD sales". the-numbers.com. http://www.the-numbers.com/movies/1999/OFFIC-DVD.php. Retrieved December 27, 2011. 
  4. ^ Meriah Doty CNN (2003-03-04). "CNN.com - Film flops flourish on DVD, VHS - Mar. 4, 2003". Edition.cnn.com. http://edition.cnn.com/2003/SHOWBIZ/Movies/03/04/second.wind/index.html. Retrieved 2011-09-19. 
  5. ^ Tallerico, Brian. "Artie Lange's Beer League DVD Review". UGO.com. http://www.ugo.com/ugo/html/article/?id=16420. Retrieved 2007-08-16. 
  6. ^ a b c Fierman, Daniel (February 26, 1999). "Judge's Dread". Entertainment Weekly. http://www.ew.com/ew/article/0,,274497,00.html. Retrieved 2007-08-16. 
  7. ^ a b c Beale, Lewis (February 21, 1999). "Mr. Beavis Goes to Work". Daily News. 
  8. ^ a b c Sherman, Paul (February 21, 1999). "Humorist is a good Judge of office angst". Boston Herald. 
  9. ^ a b c d e f Valby, Karen (May 23, 2003). "The Fax of Life". Entertainment Weekly: p. 41. http://www.ew.com/ew/article/0,,452194,00.html. Retrieved 2008-12-05. 
  10. ^ "Office Space". Box Office Mojo. http://www.boxofficemojo.com/movies/?id=officespace.htm. Retrieved 2008-09-18. 
  11. ^ Holden, Stephen (1999-02-19). "One Big Happy Family? No, Not At This Company". The New York Times. 
  12. ^ Ebert, Roger (1999-02-19). "Office Space". Chicago Sun-Times. http://rogerebert.suntimes.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/19990219/REVIEWS/902190304/1023. Retrieved 2008-09-18. 
  13. ^ LaSalle, Mick (1999-02-19). "Workers' Souls Lost In Space". San Francisco Chronicle. http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/1999/02/19/DD36341.DTL. Retrieved 2008-09-18. 
  14. ^ Wioszczyna, Susan (1999-02-19). "No Frills Office Party". USA Today. 
  15. ^ Gleiberman, Owen (1999-03-05). "Office Space". Entertainment Weekly. http://www.ew.com/ew/article/0,,274661,00.html. Retrieved 2008-09-18. 
  16. ^ Groen, Rick (1999-02-19). "Workplace satire almost does the job". Globe and Mail (Toronto). http://www.theglobeandmail.com/servlet/ArticleNews/movie/MOVIEREVIEWS/19990219/TASPAC. Retrieved 2008-09-18. [dead link]
  17. ^ "The New Classics: Movies". Entertainment Weekly. 2008-06-16. http://www.ew.com/ew/article/0,,20207076_20207387_20207063,00.html. Retrieved 2009-08-08. 
  18. ^ Doty, Meriah (2003-03-04). "Film flops flourish on DVD, VHS". CNN. http://edition.cnn.com/2003/SHOWBIZ/Movies/03/04/second.wind/index.html. Retrieved 2008-09-18. 
  19. ^ Valby 2003, p. 39.
  20. ^ a b c d Valby 2003, p. 42.
  21. ^ "The Comedy 25: The Funniest Movies of the Past 25 Years". Entertainment Weekly. 2008-08-27. http://www.ew.com/ew/gallery/0,,20221235_21,00.html. Retrieved 2008-08-27. 
  22. ^ ""Office Space" Turns 10". KTBC. 2009-02-08. http://www.myfoxaustin.com/dpp/news/020809_office_space_turns_10. Retrieved 2009-02-08. 
  23. ^ "Office Space Meets World of Warcraft". Blizzard Entertainment. 2006-11-20. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2V1QB89CCz4. Retrieved 2006-11-20. 
  24. ^ Haque, Ahsan (2008-10-06). "Family Guy: "I Dream of Jesus" Review". IGN. News Corporation. http://tv.ign.com/articles/916/916389p1.html. Retrieved 2011-04-18. 
  25. ^ Bregman, Adam. Office Space at Allmusic. Retrieved January 30, 2012.

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