Office Space (1999)
Director: Peter Judge
I was in a library recently trying to clear a paper jam while printing out some papers for a college class when one of the librarians came over, mumbled some general unpleasentries toward the uncooperative printer in question before “joking” about how he would love to go all “Office Space” on said printer. This is of course in reference to the famous scene in the movie in which the three main characters drag their age old enemy, a defective company printer out to a field, to the accompaniment of the rap song “Die, motherfucker, die” and beat it to smithereens with baseball bats. This movie captures the horrors of modern life in an entry level data entry job where every waking moment is spent inside of a small cubicle in the fear that one of your seven or more bosses will foist yet another meaningless task upon you at the last minute. It is an existence where the possession of a soul and the ability to hope is one of the things that will torture you the most. This is the life that the lead character, Peter, played by Rob Livingston, leads until one day a freak hypnosis accident leaves him in a carefree zen like state that gives him the mental freedom to space out at work, ignore his bosses, come and go as he pleases, dump his abusive girlfriend, and generally become the sort of carefree, happy person he has never been able to be before. And naturally, as a commentary on the nature of these kinds of employers, the less he actually cares, and the less he performs, the more he gets promoted at work.
Livingston brings the essential humanity to this role to elevate it above the cartoon like status it could have fallen into. Jennifer Aniston is also great in that supportive girlfriend role she so often finds herself in. And it’s not just office jobs that get skewered here, all levels of corporate serfdom are given their fair due, including the nauseating practice of enforced “cheer” at fast food chains. Mike Judge is one of the more underrated social film makers of our time. Beavis and Butt-Head one of his other famous creations, was heavily criticized at the time it was made, but if you look closely Judge is not asking you to laugh with those two idiots, but at them. This movie, along with Idiocracy is Judge at his sarcastic best. Few other current directors or writers, with the exception of perhaps Seth McFarlane have the ability to take society to task and rip apart all of the hypocrisy, while still creating entertainment that is, ironically, accepted and championed by the very society it is satirizing. You know your message has become generisized when even the clueless yuppie mid level corporate managers list Office Space as among their favorite movies.