Office Space
March 25, 1999

So close, yet so far! Alas, I was one ticket away from a free pass! If I had only stopped by Walgreen's for a smuggled piece of candy I might have gotten the next ticket and won.

Well, this film was not too swift. It was written and directed by Mike Judge of "Beavis & Butthead" and "King of the Hill" fame. There was the occasional laugh, but overall the film was kind of boring.

It's about Peter Gibbons, a programmer Dilbert-type drone working at a software company, hating his life. He goes to a hypnotist who removes all his feelings of anxiety, depression, etc. He eventually returns to work and acts irresponsibly and gets rewarded for it.

It felt like Judge really fudged on his premise. If Gibbons completely loses any concern for his job, why the hell would he ever go back? I guess it's because the film is called Office Space, and is supposed to be a satire of the cubicle world.

In the beginning of the film, Judge goes to great lengths to show how miserable Gibbons is in his job (though it didn't come close to capturing the office malaise that Martin Scorsese's After Hours did, but I guess that's why Scorsese is Scorsese). When Gibbons goes back after his "rebirth," he really hasn't had any fundamental change. He's pretty much the same drone he was before, except now he wears SANDALS!

This film ends with something that is sort of a pet peeve for me. I can't stand when a character is given a difficult choice to make, but instead of letting the character follow through with the decision and deal with the consequences, the filmmakers remove the decision-making from the character, absolving him or her of any responsibility.

One example that comes to mind occurs in The Crying Game. The male lead (Stephen Rea ), an IRA member, is holding a British army guy (Forrest Whittaker) hostage. He is told by his superiors to kill Whittaker, who he really doesn't want to kill. Instead of making him do it, the filmmakers bring a truck from out of nowhere that runs Whittaker over dead. Boy, Stevie, lucky that truck did what you were supposed to do!

Office Space has this same irritating kind of "filmmaker ex machina." Gibbons embezzles money but decides to turn the money in and basically go to prison. However, when he is about to confess, this guy named Milton burns down the entire building, saving our hero from facing the music. Arghh.

I think my favorite part of the film was the occasional burst of gleeful hatred toward technology. I enjoyed the scene where Gibbons and his two downsized coworkers take a fax machine out to a field and beat it to holy hell. Also, there are a couple of nifty, loving shots of burning computers and monitors. I found it refreshing to see someone lambasting technology in something other than a science fiction movie. Destroy! Destroy! Destroy!

See you at the movies. Save me the unstained seat.