It’s tough to overstate how iconic Office Space: Almost 25 years later, its portrait of white-collar corporate hell remains potent and disturbingly accurate. Even if the specifics have changed since 1999, it’s a virtual guarantee that anyone who has worked at an IT shop big enough to have middle management has had some of the lines from this movie cross their mind whether or not they’ve seen it. “It’s not that I’m lazy, it’s that I just don’t care”: Amen, Office Space.
It helps that this a damn funny and quotable movie (“no-talent ass-clown” is a pantheon-level insult). The cast is so full of great turns, it’s hard to know where to start: Stephen Root’s mumbling Milton; Gary Cole’s aloof Bill Lumbergh; or, my personal favorites, John C. McGinley and Paul Wilson as “the Bobs,” making the most of every last line as a pair of chipper management consultants.
The movie struggles with maintaining a cohesive arc: The best bit is Peter’s failing upwards when he stops trying at work, reveling in the enterprise idiocy of Initech. The embezzlement scheme is not quite as clever but is fun enough, too, especially in giving Ron Livingston, David Herman, and Ajay Naidu opportunities for great line readings.
The only outright failure is the half-baked romantic subplot. Other than the runner about “flair” at Chotchkie’s, there’s no reason for it. Jennifer Aniston and Livingston don’t have much chemistry, and they’re not given much material. (The conflict point about which “Lumbergh” she slept with is the single laziest bit of writing in the movie.)
Thankfully the movie is a super-brisk sub-90 minutes, and it’s more than funny enough to overcome most of its shagginess to shine as what it really is: One of the greatest and funniest satires of the past generation.
- Review Project: 2009 Top 100
Exceptionally Good (7/8)
Note: This review was originally published elsewhere. Please excuse brevity or inconsistencies in style. If you have questions or feedback, please leave a comment or contact me.