Thursday, May 04, 2006


Office Space: starring Ron Livingstone and Jennifer Aniston, written and directed by Mike Judge.

So what makes a classic movie? I think part of it is catchy, repeatable lines, but a big part of it is continual and repeated exposure. Wizard of Oz wasn't big when it released, but became beloved by America by a relentless Thanksgiving Day pummelling. When I was a lad, It's a Wonderful Life was just another Jimmy Stewart movie, but when it suddenly (and briefly) became public domain, it popped up everywhere, and entered our stream of consciousness. Star Wars and The Godfather have the advantage that people were willing to pay for multiple exposures (at least for the early ones in the series). As a result, the lines from these movies became part of our discussion.

And so we have Office Space, which has reached that status where I knew all the bits (TPS reports, red swingline stapler, no, I can't say I missed it at all) without ever having to physically watch the movie. I mentioned it to a co-worker, who was kind enough to lend me a copy. And the Lovely Bride and I hunkered down to watch it last night.

And it was OK. Not bad. A mildly rebellious comedy in the same was that a Dilbert coffee cup is mildly rebellious. Work sucks. Your boss is an oaf. Your co-workers are morons. The other lane always moves faster. Most of the characters put my teeth mildly on edge, except for the old codger worried about his job. Him, for some reason, I liked. I've lived through these types of jobs before, mostly in my previous incarnation of as an engineer - the life of a corporate creative is a lot wierder, and usually more fun.

In a nutshell - Peter (Ron Livingston) hates his job, is hypnotized to relax, as a result has a breakthrough that he doesn't really need to care about his job, gets promoted, defrauds his company, experiences remorse, seeks to come clean, but is saved by a nebbishy co-worker (Steven Root, the heart of the movie) finally going postal. The movie is a collection of encounters more than an overarching narative flow. And that's OK - it has a handmade feeling that it was not spit out by a script-processing program. There are a few plot holes and a lot of missed opportunities that would have been picked up in a revision that sought to wrap everything up neatly. And the general moral is - you are victimized in your job only so long as you choose to be victimized.

Uplifting message. Not horribly threatening. Nothing as active or progressive as, say, 9 to 5. Has the deeper meaning of Ziggy cartoon on a cubicle wall. If you're seeing yourself in such an environment, its time to go hunting for another job. One with more flare.

More later,