I spent seven years working in a corporate office environment. During that time I had to deal with the red-tape of bureaucracy, overbearing and inherently lazy bosses, and some of the strangest people you could ever imagine in an office. Still, all of those characters pale in comparison to the caricatures presented by Office Space, one of the best things to ever happen to office workers.
Mike Judge’s Office Space is an underappreciated gem of brilliance. Dismissed by many since it came from “that guy who did Beavis & Butthead”, the film has gained more of a cult following on home video as a poignant commentary on the workplace. I know for my office it quickly became required viewing for any new employee - an unofficial orientation to the horrors and hilarity that stood before them.
In the film, Ron Livingston plays the ultimate frustrated employee. His character, Peter Gibbins, has had it with his job, and who can blame him. After all, he has eight bosses looking over his every mistake, most of the paperwork he touches has little meaning, and his company has even sent some outside observers looking for potential downsizing. In an effort to deal with his job, Peter is hypnotized into a more carefree state which becomes somewhat permanent when his therapist passes away just after placing Peter into his relaxed personality. The result is absolutely hilarious as Peter enters the same frustrating workspace with much less to care about.
The characters that make up the world of Office Space are all quirky oddball types, however they are also a little more real then a lot of us would like to admit. What office doesn’t have the passive supervisor who prefers to lead without any conflict, or that one member of the staff who just doesn’t quite fit in? In Peter’s case those two are the main characters anyone thinks of when this movie is brought up: his boss Bill Lumbergh (Gary Cole) and office oddball Milton Waddams (Stephen Root). Both characters are brought to life with freakish genius by the actors in a way that is imitated by every viewer of the movie, but that can never be captured in text.
Standing by Peter are his friends Samir (Ajay Naidu) and Michael Bolton... no, not the no-talent assclown singer, but a character played by David Herman (“Mad TV”, Dude, Where’s My Car). The two make up Peter’s “posse” as the movie moves into what is the most incredibly insane idea to show the true face of the office workspace: a juxtaposition of classic “gangsta” moments as Peter and his friends deal out their revenge for hard workers being fired and lazier ones being promoted. For instance, remember the classic scenario where the gang drags some idiot who crossed them out into a deserted field and proceeds to club the person to death? That’s done here - only the prey to Peter, Samir, and Michael’s gangsters is an undermining, offending printer. Oddly, the criminal activity of the trio set to gangsta rap in the office environment works incredibly well and puts a spin on the whole office idea that looks hilarious to people who have never been there and just feels right to those who have.
I don’t know many people who have survived the office experience who haven’t wanted to pull half the stuff that happens in this movie. Thanks to Mike Judge’s film they don’t have to worry about the safety of their jobs. Living vicariously through this movie is what helped me maintain my sanity towards the end of my career and walk out of the office on a positive note instead of walking out of a building on fire.
Office Space is one of those movies I’ve had to have multiple copies of, just to make sure I could lend it out to friends and still have a copy around whenever I needed it. I’ve already owned it on VHS and DVD, however the DVD edition that was out until now was extremely lacking in content. The film was the only thing on the disc, and wasn’t even presented in a widescreen TV friendly manner. So, after much begging from fans, Fox has finally seen fit to release a new edition: the “Special Edition with Flair!”
Yeah, um... about that....
See, although this edition is superior to the previous bare-bones edition, it still isn’t anything “special”. Although the film is now presented in an anamorphic format, the only special features on the disc are a short retrospective featurette and just over a half dozen deleted scenes. Am I missing the flair here?
The featurete, titled “Out of the office” is a hilarious thirty minute look back at aspects of the movie, particularly casting the film and some of the movie’s more memorable parts. Mike Judge sits in an extremely subdued manner and offers his insights to the movie he almost didn’t make. There are some really golden moments in the featurette, such as the cast talking about John C. McGinley and hearing some of his outtakes about his love for Michael Bolton (this time the singer, not the character). It’s also interesting to hear what cast members were allowed to make additions, such as the term “assclown” and one of my favorite Milton lines. With most of the cast involved, this is a decent featurette, although I wish it ran longer.
The eight deleted scenes are also really strong material for the DVD. They range in length from a couple of seconds to a couple of minutes and, while none of the scenes are something that we missed by having them cut, there is at least one or two in there I wish had been kept in the film. My absolute favorite is a short bit where Peter goes off on the receptionist about possibly changing the way she answers the phone. If you’ve ever had to listen to someone answer a phone for eight hours a day, you can completely relate.
Although there are some offered DVD-ROM features (doesn’t anyone realize nobody really uses those) that’s all the disc has to offer. There’s no commentary or even, in a Fox original move, trailers for other movies. It’s an extremely empty disc. Not all of this can be aimed at Fox though. It’s been said Mike Judge isn’t much of a person for revisiting his old movies. I can respect that and, if that’s the case, I’m thankful we at least got the thirty minute featurette. At the same time, some originality could have been put to use here. How about some testimonies from real offices out there who use the movie to survive their daily doldrums, or even a commentary track by those same type people? Surely the DVD producers could have put a little more thought into this and given the movie some real flair. For those who want to go beyond the movie, there is one additional version of the film - a box set that includes the film, a coffee mug, a red stapler, and a few other odds and ends of office survival. Personally the most valuable thing in the box is the movie, and it’s available by itself for almost half the price.
I’m glad to see a version of Office Space I can watch on my widescreen television, however I wish more had been done with this “special edition”. Still, if you’re a fan, or if you’ve never seen the movie, I will recommend this disc for the small amount of material included. It’s worth a look, even if it doesn’t meet the minimum required pieces of flair.