Posted in Film Commentary

Review: Office Space

This film has become a cult classic over the years and it is easy to see why. It is relatable, entertaining, enlightening, and just fun. It’s so common these days to see movies that think they need to be over the top to be funny, but I absolutely love the humor in this movie for the subtlety and honesty that only requires a small suspension of disbelief.

This movie does a great job of telling the story without too much explanation or unnecessary dialogue. The character development in this film is superb, as you feel like you get the general idea of who these people are before they even get to work in the first scene.

A lot of people rely on excessive dialogue or voiceovers to introduce their characters, but this movie introduces them simply by showing us how they act on the way to work. The only time a character deviates from this portrayal is after Peter undergoes hypnotherapy, and even by then we’ve learned from his conversations with Samir, Michael, and Lawrence that he’s doing what he’s wanted to do all along: nothing. It is so refreshing to watch a film that is not bogged down by excessive talking and has nailed the characters down so well that they don’t NEED to tell us about themselves in order for us to understand what kind of people they are.

Great character development doesn’t mean anything though if the story isn’t good. Luckily, Office Space is relatable and interesting. The story is one we often tell to our own friends: how upper management will rue the day they thought they could just walk all over us! Peter, Michael, and Samir attempt something almost everyone has dreamt of, but the movie still keeps the subtle realism in check when everything goes wrong and Peter has to confess.

This story is great because of it’s simplicity and how it stays down to earth despite the grandiose schemes and ideas of the characters. It reminds us that we can dream big but still have to deal with the real world when attempting to execute those dreams. This is a film saying “hey, we’ve all been there, and everything will be ok”.

Usually I don’t talk about how old a movie is, but I want to mention it because I actually remember this movie coming out and I can tell from experience just how much things have changed. Honestly, I love how this movie is a time capsule for the late 90s, in that everyone is a bit jaded, they still use floppy disks, and Joanna wears a bucket hat to a party (and rocks it, might I add). There are some movies that don’t seem to age at all and others that show their age a little too much, and perhaps I’ll change my mind in another decade or so but I think this movie is aging gracefully. The plot is still relevant, interesting, and relatable (I know, I’m using that word a lot), and there are only a few tell-tale signs that this movie is from the 90s.

Speaking of age, the music used in this movie is minimal but still perfect. I can’t say I’m an expert on gangsta rap, but it was fairly popular at the time. Using songs like “Damn it Feels Good to be a Gangsta” was both a sign of the times as well as a great comedic juxtaposition. Being nerdy hadn’t become mainstream yet and associating programmers with rappers was a little unusual and yet a flawless choice. On one hand the songs they chose had lyrics that reflected what the guys were doing (for the most part), and on the other it showed that programmers and other “geeks” were a part of regular culture, too. In fact, I would not be surprised if someone came up and told me that this movie was a primary influence in the rise of nerd popularity.

Overall, this movie has cult status for a reason. Everyone can relate to it, it’s subtle but still funny, and sometimes it helps to just watch a movie so we can live vicariously through the characters as they steal from their bosses and destroy the broken printer like we’ve all wanted to do.  Normally I include my favorite scene, but YouTube clips for this movie are almost exclusively parodies of the printer scene. Instead, here’s the trailer!