Office Space

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Office Space

Theatrical 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
Music by John Frizzell
Cinematography Tim Suhrstedt
Editing by David Rennie
Distributed by 20th Century Fox
Release date(s) February 19, 1999 and 1991
Running time 89 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $10,000,000 (estimated)
Gross revenue $10,827,813

Office Space is a U.S. comedy film, released in 1999, that was written and directed by Mike Judge. It satirizes work life in a typical software company during the 1990s, focusing on a handful of individuals who are fed up with their jobs. The film's sympathetic portrayal of ordinary IT workers garnered it a cult following among those in that profession, but also addresses themes familiar to office workers and white collar employees in general. It was filmed in Dallas and Austin, Texas.

Office Space is based on the Milton series of cartoons created by Mike Judge. Office Space was Mike Judge's foray into live action film and his second full length motion picture release (the first being the animated Beavis and Butt-head Do America). The promotional campaign for Office Space often associated it with Beavis and Butt-head, leading audiences to expect the brand of humor of the creator's previous animated efforts rather than the relatively low-key ironic humor of the film.

While not a box office success, the film has become a cult classic; it has since sold very well on video tape and DVD, and some of the movie's dialogue has entered into the popular lexicon since its release.[1]


[edit] Plot

Dallas, TX, 1999. Peter Gibbons (Ron Livingston) is a disgruntled programmer working for Initech, a company plagued by excessive management. Peter spends his days "staring at [his] desk" instead of reprogramming bank software for the then-expected Y2K disaster. His co-workers include Samir Nagheenanajar (Ajay Naidu), whose last name cannot be pronounced correctly by anybody else; Michael Bolton (David Herman), who detests 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). All four are repeatedly bullied by management, especially Initech's callous vice president, Bill Lumbergh (Gary Cole). The staff are agitated by the arrival of two consultants (John C. McGinley and Paul Willson) informally known as "The Bobs," since they share the same first name, who are brought in to help with cutting expenses, mainly through downsizing.

Peter is depressed, bored and pushed around at work, and fears that he may be on the Bobs' downsizing list. He attends an occupational hypnotherapy session urged upon him by his girlfriend Anne (Alexandra Wentworth). The obese occupational 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 leaves him) 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," and asks out Joanna (Jennifer Aniston), a waitress who shares Peter's loathing of idiotic management and love of the television program Kung Fu.

Peter then begins removing items at work that exemplify his unhappiness. After removing inspirational banners, a wall of his cubicle that blocks his view, taking Lumbergh's parking spot, and destroying a fax machine that is constantly prone to errors, and despite Peter's poor attendance record, laziness and refusal to follow orders at work, he is promoted by the Bobs while Michael and Samir are fired. To exact revenge on Initech, the three friends decide to infect the accounting system with a computer virus, designed to divert fractions of pennies into a bank account they control (see salami slicing). 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 an argument 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 one night.

He fully expects to be arrested the next morning, but his problem solves itself when Milton, after getting his stapler taken away by Lumbergh, being increasingly ignored, having to move to the cockroach-infested basement, and not receiving anymore paychecks(although he had been laid off years earlier, but nobody told Milton, and he continued to come in to work and get paid), finally snaps and sets fire to the Initech office building, having warned several times throughout the film that he would. Peter finally finds a job that he likes: working in construction with his next-door neighbor Lawrence (Diedrich Bader) and hauling away rubble from the fire. Samir and Michael get jobs at Initrode, a rival company. While cleaning up the debris, Peter finds Milton's stapler and keeps it, saying "I think I know someone who might want this".

Milton has made his way to a resort in Mexico, living well off the $300,000 that he found in Lumbergh's office before setting the building on fire. Milton continues mumbling after being served his drink with salt after ordering a Margarita specifically with no salt. Milton Waddams: [as the waiter walks away] "And yes, I won't be leaving a tip, 'cause I could... I could shut this whole resort down. Sir? I'll take my traveler's checks to a competing resort. I could write a letter to your board of tourism and I could have this place condemned. I could put... I could put... strychnine in the guacamole. There was salt on the glass, BIG grains of salt."

[edit] Cast

  • Ron Livingston as Peter Gibbons: Protagonist, software engineer
  • David Herman as Michael Bolton: Peter's co-worker, co-conspirator, and friend
  • Ajay Naidu as Samir Nagheenanajar: Peter's co-worker, co-conspirator, and friend
  • Jennifer Aniston as Joanna: Peter's prospective girlfriend
  • Gary Cole as Bill Lumbergh: Peter's main boss and main antagonist
  • Stephen Root as Milton Waddams: Squirrely-looking Initech employee; mumbles a lot
  • Richard Riehle as Tom Smykowski: Useless Initech employee
  • Diedrich Bader as Lawrence: Peter's streetwise, construction-worker, next-door neighbor
  • Jenn Emerson as Female Temp: Super-happy "case of the Mondays" girl
  • Paul Willson as Bob Porter: Consultant
  • John C. McGinley as Bob Slydell: Head consultant
  • Kinna McInroe as Nina: Administrative Assistant / Operator "Corporate accounts payable, Nina speaking."
  • Todd Duffey as Brian: Obnoxious Chotchkie's waiter
  • Greg Pitts as Drew: Initech employee (the "O-face guy")
  • Alexandra Wentworth as Anne: Peter's cheating girlfriend
  • Mike McShane as Dr. Swanson: Peter's "occupational hypnotherapist" who dies in his first session
  • Orlando Jones as Steve: Door-to-door magazine salesman
  • Mike Judge as Stan: Manager of Chotchkie's (credited pseudonymously as "William King")

Artie Lange also auditioned for the role of Milton.[2] 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".

[edit] 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.[3] The inspiration came from a temp job he once had that involved alphabetizing purchase orders[4] 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".[5] 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.[3] 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".[4]

Judge sold the film to 20th Century Fox based on his script and a cast that included Jennifer Aniston, Ron Livingston, and David Herman.[3] 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.[5] The studio suggested he make a movie like Car Wash but "just set in an office".[5] 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".[4] 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!"[6] 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 but did not know how to change it until after the last test screening when he had an epiphany of what it should be. He went on to completely rewrite the third act.[6]

Judge 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".[6] 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".[6]

[edit] Reaction

Office Space was released on February 19, 1999 in 1,740 theatres, grossing USD $4.2 million on its opening weekend. It went on to make $10.8 million in North America, barely recouping its production costs.[7] 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.[6]

The film received mixed to positive reviews[6] with a 79% 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".[8] 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".[9] 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".[10] In the USA Today, Susan Wloszczyna wrote, "If you've ever had a job, you'll be amused by this paean to peons".[11]

However, Owen Gleiberman in Entertainment Weekly gave the film a "C" rating and criticized it for feeling "cramped and underimagined".[12] 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".[13]

[edit] Legacy

Office Space has become a cult classic, selling very well on video and DVD,[14] As of 2003, it had sold 2.6 million copies on VHS and DVD.[15] In the same year, it was in the top 20 best-selling Fox DVDs along with There's Something About Mary.[16]

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 33 times.[16] 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".[16] 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.[16]

Entertainment Weekly ranked it 5th on their 25 Great Comedies From the Past 25 Years list, despite giving the film a poor review.[17]

The popular Fox Network show Family Guy parodied the scene of Michael and Samir destroying the fax machine in the episode I Dream of Jesus. Brian and Stewie stole Peter's favorite record, Surfin' Bird by The Trashmen, and proceeded to destroy it in a similar way with the same music playing in the background as in the movie.

Reebok's popular "Office Linebacker" series of short films features a scene where Terry Tate (the linebacker) tackles a worker because of incorrect TPS reports.

On February 8, 2009, a reunion of the cast 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. [18]

[edit] Trivia

There has been debate and curiosity over what the TPS reports stand for. At the 10th anniversary screening of the film in Austin, TX Mike Judge revealed its meaning as Test Program Set. This is a reference with his personal experiences of such reports while working as an engineer. [19]

[edit] Soundtrack

Office Space: Motion Picture Soundtrack
Office Space: Motion Picture Soundtrack cover
Soundtrack by various artists
Released 1999
Genre Hip hop, Rap
Length 44:35
Label Interscope

[edit] Track listing

  1. "Shove This Jay-Oh-Bee" (Canibus/Biz Markie) - 4:21
  2. "Get Dis Money" (Slum Village) - 3:36
  3. "Get Off My Elevator" (Kool Keith) - 3:46
  4. "Big Boss Man" (Junior Reid) - 3:46
  5. "9-5" (Lisa Stone) - 3:40
  6. "Down for Whatever" (Ice Cube) - 4:40
  7. "Damn It Feels Good to Be a Gangsta" (Geto Boys) - 5:09
  8. "Home" (Blackman/Destruct/Icon) - 4:22
  9. "No Tears" (Scarface) - 2:27
  10. "Still" (Geto Boys) - 4:03
  11. "Mambo #8" (Perez Prado) - 2:06
  12. "Peanut Vendor" (Perez Prado) - 2:39

[edit] See also

PC LOAD LETTER error, parodied in Office Space

[edit] References

  1. ^ "The Office Space Kit". ThinkGeek. 
  2. ^ Tallerico, Brian. "Artie Lange's Beer League DVD Review". Retrieved on 2007-08-16. 
  3. ^ a b c Fierman, Daniel (February 26, 1999). "Judge's Dread". Entertainment Weekly.,,274497,00.html. Retrieved on 2007-08-16. 
  4. ^ a b c Beale, Lewis (February 21, 1999). "Mr. Beavis Goes to Work". Daily News. 
  5. ^ a b c Sherman, Paul (February 21, 1999). "Humorist is a good Judge of office angst". Boston Herald. 
  6. ^ a b c d e f Valby, Karen (May 23, 2003). "The Fax of Life". Entertainment Weekly: pp. 41.,,452194,00.html. Retrieved on 2008-12-05. 
  7. ^ "Office Space". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved on 2008-09-18. 
  8. ^ Holden, Stephen (February 19, 1999). "One Big Happy Family? No, Not At This Company". New York Times. 
  9. ^ Ebert, Roger (February 19, 1999). "Office Space". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved on 2008-09-18. 
  10. ^ LaSalle, Mick (February 19, 1999). "Workers' Souls Lost In Space". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved on 2008-09-18. 
  11. ^ Wioszczyna, Susan (February 19, 1999). "No Frills Office Party". USA Today. 
  12. ^ Gleiberman, Owen (March 5, 1999). "Office Space". Entertainment Weekly.,,274661,00.html. Retrieved on 2008-09-18. 
  13. ^ Groen, Rick (February 19, 1999). "Workplace satire almost does the job". Globe and Mail. Retrieved on 2008-09-18. 
  14. ^ Doty, Meriah (March 4, 2003). "Film flops flourish on DVD, VHS". CNN. Retrieved on 2008-09-18. 
  15. ^ Valby 2003, p. 39.
  16. ^ a b c d Valby 2003, p. 42.
  17. ^ "The Comedy 25: The Funniest Movies of the Past 25 Years". Entertainment Weekly. August 27, 2008.,,20221235_20,00.html. Retrieved on 2008-08-27. 
  18. ^ ""Office Space" Turns 10". KTBC. February 8, 2009. Retrieved on 2009-02-08. 
  19. ^ Hoinski, Michael (February 9, 2009). "“Office Space” Cast Reunite at 10th Anniversary Screening of Mike Judge’s Cult Film". Rolling Stone. 

[edit] External links

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