“I can’t believe what a bunch of nerds we are. We’re looking up money laundering in a dictionary.” – Peter Gibbons, Office Space (1999).
There’s something that I appreciate about cult classic films. I really do, I find it amazing that after seventeen years this film is still being talked about. This film is only ten months older than me, God I’m young aren’t I. Anyways that’s not the point, I had an excuse to rewatch Office Space once again and I leapt on this chance. Why wouldn’t I to be fair, it’s a great film and I could definitely do with watching it again.
Peter Gibbons (Ron Livingston) loathes his job at Initech. To combat this and a failing relationship, he goes to hypnotherapy. In the middle of his hypnotherapy, his hypnotherapist dies, leaving Gibbons in a state of tranquil bliss. He no longer cares about anything or anyone. So when his friends Michael Bolton (David Herman) and Samir Nagheenanajar (Ajay Naidu) are to be made unemployed, they pull off an impossible heist to set them up for life. The cast also includes Jennifer Aniston, Mike Judge, Gary Cole, John C. McGinley and Stephen Root.
The key to a good comedy is to always keep you laughing. While it does have a few misfires, for the most part it is a pretty solid comedy. I liked how Gibbons is just so carefree and it does lead to some amazingly funny moments throughout. However, although this was my favourite part of the film, I don’t think it was done amazingly well. There are times where he clearly does care about things that are happening. For example the entire plot of the film is based off of him getting money for his friends through a scam. Although it’s a fairly solid plot, why would he want to do it with this carefree attitude.
Aside from poking holes in really good comedies, I’d also like to talk about the general cinematography of the film. To me it captures the drab and boring space of an office extremely well. Grey is used frequently in this film and pretty much nothing else is colourful at all. Not even scenes that take place in different parts of the workplace are any more colourful. That boring grey follows the characters and more to the point, you, throughout the entire film. It adds to the atmosphere extremely well, it’s one of the few comedies to use cinematography to its advantage.
Speaking of which there are one or two nice shots throughout this film. I’m not going to go into detail about how certain shots begin to show us greater understandings of the character, mainly because it’s not that interesting. However I will say that from my point of view it does add quite a bit to the film. Again the lighting adds a lot to it given that it’s just so dull. The only real light that comes from the film is towards the end and I obviously can’t spoil what that is.
It’s always good when the opening credits to a film can make you laugh. Seeing the main trio stuck in traffic and trying to get to work is just oddly funny. There are a lot of funny moments within this film and none are funnier than Milton. As a character Milton is just damn funny because of how weird he is. It’s all thanks to Stephen Root, who plays the role with such a great confidence. I’d argue that he is one of the reasons this film is considered a cult classic. Forget the main trio, the real comedy comes from the supporting cast in my opinion.
Because this film is technically a 90s comedy (much like I am technically a 90s kid), it’s obvious that there are going to be a few tropes in there. Most notably is the romantic subplot. I swear they’re just the bane of my existence at this point because to be quite honest they’re always the same. Here it is no different, Aniston and Livingston provide this angle throughout the latter half of the film. At least it doesn’t completely focus on it, by the end of the film Aniston has disappeared off to do another season of Friends or something.
I did like the character of Bill Lumbergh, but then again who doesn’t? He’s such a perfect jackass that portrays the typical boss so very well. I suppose that’s one of the many things this film does right. When it goes after a stereotype it goes after it hard and works it extremely well. He and Milton were two of the best characters in this entire film simply because the dynamic between the two is exceptionally good. How can I forget the two Bob’s either, one of which being John C. McGinley pre-Scrubs era. Again, like the rest of the cast, he’s absolutely marvellous.
At it’s heart, Office Space is a very funny film that relies on many different aspects to keep itself funny. The comedy as a whole is so broad and suitable that it just surprises me that it can cater to so many different audiences. For the most part humour is very subjective, it depends on what mood you’re in and what type of comedy you like. So when a film can mix a wide variety of different styles of comedy, you know something has been done very right.
Some great performances throughout that have had a very lasting impression are featured throughout. Although it does fit into the cliched taste of mediocre romance plot, Office Space is a genuinely fantastic film. It’s a whole lot of fun for an hour and a half and to be quite honest you’d be hard pressed to find a funnier cult film than this. There’s just something about it that makes it work so well. Office Space heavily relies on the petty hates that office workers and those that have blue collar jobs hate. It works extremely well in painting this picture that their life is hell. For the most part then, it can resonate rather easily with an audience. Quite clearly it can, especially considering it’s still talked about almost eighteen years on.