Office Space

1999, Movie, R, 102 mins


Even if it doesn't up live to its inspired beginning, Mike Judge scores something with all the marks of a workplace cult classic with his first big-screen, live-action outing. Peter Gibbons (Ron Livingston), who's on the verge of both personal and professional meltdown, is a programmer working on the Y2K problem at Initech, a drab computer code factory. His emotional state is brilliantly conveyed by the opening sequence, which depicts the frustration of the morning commute in suburban sprawl hell. Hoping to salvage Peter's sanity and their crumbling relationship, Peter's duplicitous girlfriend Anne (Alexandra Wentworth) drags him to a hypnotherapist, with surprising results. The therapist dies of a heart attack while Peter is in a state of deep hypnotic relaxation, and the unnaturally relaxed Peter starts doing all the things he really wants to do, the first of which is dumping Anne. Then he asks good-looking waitress Joanna (Jennifer Aniston) on a date, and starts slacking off at work. He shows up very late and dressed in flip flops at the precise moment downsizing consultants are trolling for people to lay off, so surprising them with his moxie and analytical skills that they recommend him for promotion. The Bobs -- as the consultants are known -- also reveal that they plan to fire two of Peter's hard working friends, Samir (Ajay Naidu) and Michael (David Herman). Enraged by the complicity of his unctuous boss (Gary Cole), Peter enlists Samir and Michael in a scheme to defraud the company of fractions of pennies - yes, the SUPERMAN 3 scam. Repetition isn't kind to many of the films gags, which are far funnier the first time out than in subsequent reiterations: Having a dweeby white guy named Michael Bolton be a really big hip hop fan is only good for a couple of laughs, even when you sweeten the pot with a rap video parody. But though he gets into trouble when the action leaves the cubicle, Judge -- creator of Beavis and Butt-head and King of the Hill -- excels at depicting the myriad trifling annoyances that define office life and make you believe that it is indeed possible to die of stupefying tastelessness. leave a comment --Sandra Contreras

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