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20th Century Fox presents
Office Space: SE (1999)

Michael: You were supposed to come in Saturday. What were you doing?
Peter: Michael, I did nothing. I did absolutely nothing, and it was everything I thought it could be.

- David Herman, Ron Livingston

Review By: Joel Cunningham  
Published: October 30, 2005

Stars: Ron Livingston, Ajay Naidu, David Hermann, Jennifer Aniston
Other Stars: Mike Judge, Stephen Root, Gary Cole, John C. McGinley, Paul Willson, Orlando Jones
Director: Mike Judge

MPAA Rating: R for language and brief sexuality
Run Time: 01h:29m:12s
Release Date: November 01, 2005
UPC: 024543160892
Genre: comedy

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer
B+ A-A-B+ C

DVD Review

Reviewer's note: I originally wrote about Office Space in 2001, before I graduated from college and secured a real job as a small-town journalist. Though writing full-time is infinitely more fulfilling than making sandwiches, I still struggle daily with the fact that I'd rather just sit around doing nothing. And thus I find that though I've never worked in a traditional office setting, I can still relate to the movie, and keep the dream of sleeping until noon alive.

The text of my original review follows.

I can't imagine ever holding a more depressing, demeaning job than the one I have now (which is, incidentally, the "assistant night manager" at a franchise of a popular chain of submarine sandwich restaurants). I realize I'm probably slipping into hyperbole (and I can think of jobs far worse), but humor me as the coddled child of a middle-class family in a small town.

I sit now, hunched over my keyboard, plunking out this review through gritted teeth, crippled by unruly back pain (no doubt brought on by: A) standing for eight hours in shoes I bought at Target, and B) doing all the menial tasks the useless people I work with refuse to do). But it's all worth it when I realize I'm doing it not only for the good of the company, but for a motivating $7 an hour. Yes, I suppose I'm whining. But why, you ask, have I regaled you with the no doubt enthralling story of my summer job? Simply to convince you that Office Space, the 1999 box office underachiever (and now cult classic) directed by Beavis and Butthead creator Mike Judge, will appeal not only to those who suffer daily in the confines of a cubicle, but to anyone forced to work as a faceless, interchangeable cog in a degrading job full of meaningless, repetitive tasks. Those of you satisfied with your jobs need not apply. And also, shut up.

Michael: Hey, what's this I hear about you having problems with your T.P.S reports?
Samir: Yeah, didn't you get that memo?

Peter Gibbons (Livingston) is a faceless drone at the software corporation, Initech. His talents are underused and his body overworked at a mindless programming job, and his time is constantly wasted as he answers to eight different bosses, each more cloying than the last. He hates his job, he hates his life, and his one wish is to just do nothing. His friends Samir (Naidu) and Michael (Herman), are likewise discouraged, but both fear unemployment more than anything else. When Peter submits to a session with an occupational hyponotherapist, however, a mishap leaves him under the influence and carefree about his job. He starts showing up late (or not at all), gutting fish at his desk, and ignoring his condescending, monotone boss, Bill "Hey, what's happening?" Lumberg. Not only is he not fired for his shenanigans, he is promoted ("He's just a straight shooter with upper management written all over him."), and his friends are sacked. Then Peter hatches a plan to put himself, Samir, and Michael out of work (and on Easy Street) for good. What's breaking the law if you do it ripping off a "soulless corporation"?

Peter: I don't like my job and I don't think I'll go anymore.
Joanna: You're just not gonna go?
Peter: Yeah.
Joanna: Won't you get fired?
Peter: I don't know. But I really don't like it and, uh, I'm not gonna go.

Office Space is smartly directed by Judge, working from his own script. There is a lot of sharp, snappy dialogue, much of it playing very close to Dilbert, but all of it nevertheless very funny. This is an incessantly quotable movie, like Spinal Tap or The Princess Bride, so don't make the mistake of mentioning it around a group of fans, unless you can respond with your own favorite bit of dialogue, chapter and verse. Everything is underplayed, and the humor emerges more with each viewing. It's tongue-in-cheek without being too clever or sarcastic, and the end result is actually dimly inspiring, at least in the sense that perhaps everyone does have a proper place in the world. The direction is stylish, with inventive dream sequences and several quite effective "urban movie" parodies, complete with dramatic slo-mo, all set to thumping, explicit rap music.

The cast of characters is the real bright spot, however, and the actors all are pitch perfect. Livingston is appropriately deadpan. His style may take some getting used to, but his excellent comedic timing will work its magic sooner or later. Herman is a standout as Michael, especially in his rants about his unfortunate surname (Bolton), and Naidu, while a bit underused, gets in some zingers as the token foreigner. Gary Cole gives a wonderfully irritating turn as Peter's boss; John C. McGinley is a self-satisfied consultant (and "a Michael Bolton fan"). Jennifer Aniston stands around looking pretty as Peter's girlfriend. My favorite, however, is Stephen Root as the mumbling Milton (the character that starred in the SNL sketches on which this film is based). His timid, semi-psychotic wallflower steals the film (literally, in one sense) with his mutterings.

"I believe you have my stapler?" - Milton

Office Space isn't perfect. Like another workplace comedy, Nine to Five, it looses steam in the third act when it shifts from sharp satire to a more traditional heist. Still, the film is knowingly derivative, as Michael cops to the fact that their plan to rip off the company "was in Superman III," and it never stops being funny. I'd love to go in to work tomorrow and pour gasoline all over those metaphorical bridges, but I need the money. Office Space serves as 90 minutes of wish fulfillment.

Lawrence: What would you do if you had a million dollars?
Peter: Nothing. I'd relax, sit on my a** all day. I would do nothing.
Lawrence: Well you don't need a million dollars to do nothing, man. Just take a look at my cousin, he's broke, don't do s***.

Rating for Style: B+
Rating for Substance: A-


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio1.85:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes

Image Transfer Review: Finally available in anamorphic widescreen, Office Space looks very good on DVD. Neither edge enhancement nor digital artifacting are evident at all, giving the picture a more natural, filmlike look. The colors look excellent, with no bleeding or oversaturation. Film grain isn't a problem, and the print used for the master was in excellent condition. Fine detail is good, with just a few scenes looking a tad soft.

Image Transfer Grade: A-


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0French, Spanishyes
Dolby Digital

Audio Transfer Review: This new disc includes what sounds like the same mix from the original DVD. The track is a bit better than the average comedy mix. Of course, most everything is still confined to the front soundstage, but the surrounds are quite active in several key sequences. The front soundstage is very wide, and there are quite a few directional effects to expand the soundfield in the mains. The dialogue and other audio elements are well mixed, with the dialogue always sounding clear and natural. During the scenes that feature rap, the surrounds provide support for the music quite well. In addition, the two "action" scenes feature a bit of reserved surround use and decent LFE.

Audio Transfer Grade: B+


Disc Extras

Animated menu with music
Scene Access with 36 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English, Spanish with remote access
1 Original Trailer(s)
8 Deleted Scenes
1 Documentaries
Weblink/DVD-ROM Material
Packaging: Keep Case
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: RSDL

Extras Review: Originally announced around four years ago, this long-in-coming special edition is a little light on features. Director Mike Judge was reportedly unwilling to produce special features without compensation (only fair, since the original DVD has long been one of Fox's biggest sellers), and for whatever reason, he doesn't provide a commentary, nor are the Milton shorts that inspired the film included.

There are a few bonuses fans of the film will appreciate, however, starting with some cleverly designed menus that offer an up-close look at the sexy curves of the red Swingline stapler.

Out of the Office (27m:01s) includes retrospective interviews with Judge and most of the cast (Jennifer Aniston appears in vintage clips, however). It's a nice summary of the movie and its impact on popular culture (or at least the stapler world), if a little light on making-of substance. You do get a brief glimpse at the animated shorts that inspired the film, as well as an outtakes reel of John C. McGinley's character talking about his love for Michael Bolton.

Aside from the theatrical trailer from the previous disc, there is also a gallery of eight brief deleted scenes that offer a few additional jokes (including a brief clip suggesting Lumbergh died in the fire that ends the film). That's it, though, unless you count some goodies like screensavers on the DVD-ROM side (I don't, since these features still don't work on a Mac).

Extras Grade: C


Final Comments

A cure for the common case of the Mondays, this re-issue of cult classic Office Space isn't quite the special edition fervent fans have been waiting for, but it adds a few nice supplements and presents the film in fine and, finally, anamorphic form.


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