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Modern Classics: Office Space
by Andy York

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I bet none of you ever thought a guy who writes about the movies I do would ever write about Office Space. Well, why not? I write about classic movies right? Office Space may look odd next to columns about Ingmar Bergman and Gregory Peck in my archive, but it's still a classic in every sense of the word. On our Matchflick "favorites" section Office Space ranks on every list as one of the favorite movies in the US. There has to be a reason for that. It's a simple comedy from the late 90's. Office Space didn't exactly pack the theaters of the time of it's release either. Why is Office Space so fondly remembered?

"Human beings were not meant to sit in little cubicles staring at computer screens all day!"

Office Space was written and directed by Mike Judge. Judge was the creator of Beavis and Butthead and King of the Hill, but he's been quoted as saying that it's Office Space that people ask him about most. It's almost surprising in the fact that the odd feel the movie has as if it was never planned to succeed. His other projects had amazing success of their own, but it's Office Space that will probably end up being his most fondly remembered creation. As much credit as Mike Judge deserves for writing and directing the film, it would never be the cult hit it's become without the cast. Each cast member is almost made for their role. Ron Livingston is the lead as Peter Gibbons, Ajay Naidu and David Herman play Peter's work friends, Jennifer Aniston is Peter's dream girl, Diedrich Bader is Peter's redneck next door neighbor and Gary Cole is his unforgettable boss, Bill Lumbergh.

"I told those fudge packers that I liked Michael Bolton's music."

Peter Gibbons is a worn down software engineer. His life consists of a girlfriend who cheats on him, friends who are as burnt out on life as he, a waitress that he silently admires and last but not least, the worst of his eight bosses, Bill Lumbergh. His friends are superficial, the waitress doesn't know he exists and his boss always tends to make his life a little bit harder than it already is. In the film he admits
"any day you see me, it's the worst day of my life". It's an attitude any half-way working person has had. The feeling of the only events that occur in your life are bad ones. Yet, for Peter Gibbons, it all changes. Peter goes to a hypnotherapist to help with his on-going anxiety. While under hypnosis, the therapist dies of a heart attack. Peter is left in his hypnotized state and it brings clarity to his life. The next day he sleeps in, immediately asks his fantasy girl out and then just goes to work whenever he feels like it.

"Sounds like someone has a case of the Mondays"

It the fantasy we all have. We'd all love to ask our dream girl out, go to work when we'd like and ignore our boss. We'd all love to see it actually work, as it does for Peter. He starts up a relationship with the girl, gets more respect at work and finally breaks out of his depression. Office Space is the fantasy of anyone who sees it. It's that reason I believe that Office Space is so well liked and will continue to be for many decades to come. When people refer to classics from over fifty years ago you see the occasional odd film pop up. Normally a comedy, it's not the huge epic or classic drama that you expect, but it's a film that is remembered just as fondly, if not more so. As odd as it sounds, Office Space is in the vein of The Shop Around the Corner or even The Big Lebowski(I think that covers the field). It's a movie that was not supposed to be great, but ended up being so. Office Space was supposed to be that movie in the $5 bin at Wal-Mart. It was defiantly not supposed to be the movie that would be quoted by millions of people around the world everyday.

"Oh, and remember: next Friday... is Hawaiian shirt day. So, you know, if you want to, go ahead and wear a Hawaiian shirt and jeans."

Office Space is about breaking free from a mundane work life. We've all had the jobs where minor details are treated as earth-shattering. Where people place themselves as roadblocks at our job just because they can. Everyone of us has had the job where you just don't care, and you never
forgot this is what you're doing with your life. Office Space doesn't give any advice on how to really change that, but it's a way to live vicariously through someone who does. The movie really does take on a bigger meaning and connection to the viewer than I believe was intended.

"I could set the building on fire."

I've added some of the quotes from the movie on this page so to show a full version of hilarity of the movie. I don't know of a movie that when hanging around with my friends that I've quoted more times. The situations in the movie lend themselves to so many situations in everyday American life. The movie is full of great one-liners. It's hilarious for that reason alone, but it's the honesty of how the average person's life is underwhelming that makes the movie more than a run of the mill comedy. As I said before, everyone has had at least one of the moments Peter encounters in Office Space. When he finally attacks his world with an attitude of "I just don't care", we, all of us, wish we could do that. In fact, we've seen a few brave souls do it at our jobs. They're the ones who get fired. Peter doesn't get fired. In real life he would, but Office Space isn't real life. It's fantasy.

"So, Peter, what's happening? Aahh, now, are you going to go ahead and have those TPS reports for us this afternoon?"

I promise next week I will be back to writing about people no one really cares about. Well, actually next week I will be taking on my coolest topic yet. You might even say my next column will be the king of cool(yeah, I'm lame). Until then go watch Office Space again. I believe it should be a required viewing every six months for anyone that works for a living. The movie may just be the best therapy when quitting/getting fired. Until next time, I'll leave you with my favorite quote from the movie -

"The thing is, Bob, it's not that I'm lazy, it's that I just don't care."

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Out of the Past
Every other Tuesday

Discussing classic films from City Lights to Apocalypse Now and everything in between and beyond.

Other Columns
Other columns by Andy York:

Top 10 Coolest Movie Characters

Stewart-Mann Western Connection

Academy of Irrelevance

Ride of Terror Showdown

A Guide to the Fiercely Divine

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Andy York
Andy is a life long movie fanatic. The first movie he saw in the theater was Back to the Future, Part 2 at the age of 3 and he has loved movies ever since.

If you have a comment, question, or suggestion, you can send a message to Andy York by clicking here.

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