Fox // 1999 // 89 Minutes // Rated R
Reviewed by Judge Patrick Naugle // November 1st, 2005
"I was told that I could listen to the radio at a reasonable volume from nine to eleven, I told Bill that if Sandra is going to listen to her headphones while she's filing then I should be able to listen to the radio while I'm collating so I don't see why I should have to turn down the radio because I enjoy listening at a reasonable volume, from nine to eleven." -- Milton Waddams (Stephen Root), Office Space
A few years ago Entertainment Weekly featured an article about Office Space. Since its release in 1999, the "little comedy that could" has become one of the most beloved flicks of its time. Don't believe me? I dare you to find an office worker who doesn't know what a TPS report is. Created by Mike Judge (Beavis and Butt-head) from his original "Milton" short animated films, Office Space: Special Edition With Flair returns to DVD, and that will make you want to run to the water cooler with joy!
Peter Gibbons (Ron Livingston, Little Black Book) works for a big corporate computer firm named Initech, another one of those companies where they do a lot of business, but you're never exactly sure what it is they do. Peter slaves 9-5 in a small cubicle fixing software code (not programmed for the year 2000) next to the babbling Milton (Stephen Root, NewsRadio), has a boss (Gary Cole, A Very Brady Sequel) who wants him to work on the weekends, and finds little in the way of happiness.
Peter visits a hypno-therapist with his soon-to-be ex-girlfriend (Alexandra Wentworth, Jerry Maguire) and is put under hypnosis by the burly Dr. Swanson (Michael McShane, Big Trouble). Unfortunately, Dr. Swanson keels over dead before he can take Peter out of his "happy place," propelling Peter into a state of carefree indifference about work, bills, and other adult responsibilities. When Peter returns to work, his co-workers and colleagues find him blissfully defiant -- he plays Tetris on his computer in front of his boss, ignores his duties, and flays raw fish at his desk. When Peter and a few of his buddies come up with a plan to rip Initech off for thousands of dollars (using only fractions of a cent), Peter finds himself on the edge of never having to worry about work again, or, spending the rest of his life making sure not to drop the soap!
I love Office Space. Love it, love it, love it. I realize that praising the film is like saying the Lord of the Rings trilogy is really good -- well, duh. Mike Judge's acerbic, perceptive comedy is something that almost everyone can relate to; if you've ever held down a job you'll understand and sympathize with Peter's predicaments.
At its core Office Space is just a silly comedy about getting even with your bosses. It starts off innocuously enough: a man (Ron Livingston) stuck in traffic on his way to work. Once he gets to his office he meets caricatures of people you probably know or have seen: the rotund woman with bright red hair and nails whose voice could shatter glass; the ethnic guy who mumbles in broken English; the angry nerd who likes rap music (but not when other black people are around); the boss who drives the expensive car and asks you come in on your day off; and many other folks who make you cringe because you have to be around them 10 hours a day, five (or more) days a week.
Poor Peter is our tour guide through this maze of office freaks, and it's one of the funniest rides I've ever been on. Who knows what makes a comedy reach out and grab you. Office Space truly made me laugh almost the entire way through. It may sound like I'm gushing, which I guess I am. I often find it hard to review movies I really adore because it feels like I'm a parent going on and on and on and on about a child that just won a spelling bee. I saw Office Space a few years ago, and much like The Big Lebowski (another movie I adore), Office Space just keeps getting better and better with each repeat viewing.
Mike Judge's screenplay is pitch perfect. It finds humor in the small details, like the goofy suburban chain restaurants (ala TGI Fridays) Peter visits, with names like "Flingers" and "Chotchkies," and the lonely bachelor apartment dotted with what appears to be furniture bought from Ikea. One of my favorite running jokes is a character with the unfortunate name of Michael Bolton, just like everyone's favorite cheesy '80s singer. (In an Entertainment Weekly question to the singer, the real Mr. Bolton is quoted as saying, "Everything I do will be promotion for 'Office Space' for the rest of my life. They had to make that f***ing movie! Do you know what it's like having 22-year-old kids walk up to you and go, 'Oh, my God, it's, like, the real Michael Bolton. Like, dude, have you seen Office Space?'.")
The actors all play their parts to near-perfection. Ron Livingston perfectly captures Peter's complacency, then his frustration, and finally his everyman disinterest in his job. Livingston's performance is the core of the movie (it's a shame the actor hasn't been featured in more prominent roles), like a sun with orbiting weirdoes. Gary Cole is a stitch as Lumbergh, Peter's monotone boss ("Um, yeahhhhh...I'm gonna need you come in this weekend...") who is probably the most quoted character from the film. Ajay Naidu and David Herman are Peter's co-worker friends, each distinctive and filled with wonderfully goofy opinions on life, work, and women.
It's difficult to explain how funny Office Space is -- the bulk of the film takes place inside cubicles, which doesn't sound very humorous. But trust me: this is one movie that you'll want to watch and re-watch over and over again. It's a rarity these days to find a good comedy, and when you do you want to cherish it with all your might. That's how I feel about Office Space.
Office Space is presented (finally!) in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen. Fans of this film have had to suffer through a non-anamorphic transfer for years, and Fox has finally put things right with a new digital transfer on this DVD. Although the image isn't perfect (there are a few moments when grain and other imperfections are present), I'm delighted to have Office Space in a 16x9 format.
The soundtrack is presented in Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround in English. The sound mix sounds the same on this disc as it did on the previous version -- Office Space is a front heavy comedy, so don't expect much in the way of directional effects or surround sounds (except for a few instances of background noise and pop/rap songs). Also included on this disc are English and Spanish subtitles as well as Dolby 2.0 Sound mixes in Spanish and French.
Rumor has it this new edition of Office Space was to have included a commentary track with Mike Judge, some of the animated "Milton" shorts, and a few other goodies. Sadly, none of those have been featured on this disc. What fans do get are only a handful of new extras. The best is a retrospective featurette ("Out Of The Office") that lasts a half hour and includes interviews with actors Ron Livingston, Gary Cole, Stephen Root, David Herman, Ajay Naidu, and creator/director Mike Judge. It's a fun, light look at what the casts thinks of the film, how they got the parts, and other goofy info about their thoughts on the film. A few outtakes and snippets from Judge's "Milton" shorts are included during the feature.
Also included on this disc are eight anamorphic deleted scenes from the film (the quality of the transfers is negligible, though it's nice they've been included). Some of the scenes are actually pretty funny while others were deservedly cut from the final film. Finally there are a few DVD-ROM extras, as well as a theatrical trailer for the film.
If you still own the original DVD version of Office Space, I can recommend picking this up solely for the new widescreen transfer. However, while the extra features are nice to have, it's a shame there weren't more included on this disc. This isn't a great DVD edition, though it's very good and well worth your time if you haven't seen the movie.
Grab a cup of coffee, blow off some work, and enjoy the show!
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Scales of Justice
* Golden Gavel 2005 Nominee
* 1.85:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround (French)
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround (Spanish)
Running Time: 89 Minutes
Release Year: 1999
MPAA Rating: Rated R
* "Out Of The Office" Featurette
* Deleted Scenes
* DVD-ROM Content
* Theatrical Trailer