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Mike Judge
Ron Livingston, Jennifer Aniston, David Herman, Ajay Naidu, Diedrich Bader, Stephen Root, Gary Cole, Richard Riehle, Alexandra Wentworth
Writing Credits:
Mike Judge

Work Sucks.

Unable to endure another mind-numbing day at Initech Corporation, cubicle slave Peter Gibbons (Ron Livingston) gets fired up and decides to get fired. Armed with a leisurely new attitude and a sexy new girlfriend (Jennifer Aniston), he soon masters the art of neglecting his work, which quickly propels him into the ranks of upper management!

Box Office:
$10 million.
Opening Weekend
$4.231 million on 1740 screens.
Domestic Gross
$10.824 million.

Rated R

Widescreen 1.85:1/16x9
English Dolby Digital 5.1
French Dolby 2.0

Runtime: 89 min.
Price: $19.98
Release Date: 8/31/1999

• Cast
• Trailer


Sony 36" WEGA KV-36FS12 Monitor; Sony DA333ES Processor/Receiver; Panasonic CV-50 DVD Player using component outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Sony SA-WM40 Subwoofer.


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Office Space (1999)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (May 26, 2006)

When anyone makes a list of cult classics from the Nineties, 1999ís Office Space clearly must occupy a spot. Along with 1998ís The Big Lebowski, it offers one of the decadeís films that truly defines the concept of the ďcult classicĒ. Both were largely ignored during their theatrical runs but both came to earn substantial and passionate audiences on home video.

And during the fall of 2005, both appeared as special edition DVDs that greatly disappointed most of those fans. Iíll address that side of the Office Space disc later, but now I just want to discuss the film itself. Space introduces us to the staff at Initech. We concentrate on cubicle drone Peter Gibbons (Ron Livingston) and his pals Samir Nagheenanajar (Ajay Naidu) and Michael Bolton (David Herman). Peter pines for cute waitress Joanna (Jennifer Aniston) but doesnít pursue her because he thinks he should work things out with his girlfriend Anne (Alexandra Wentworth).

This leads him to a hypnotherapist (Micheal McShane). After Peter states that he hates his job and everydayís worse than the last, Dr. Swanson induces a soothing, pleasant state of mind. However, Dr. Swanson keels over before he can snap Peter out of this condition.

Because of this, Peter stays permanently content. He stops caring about his job and lives life on his own terms. This means that he comes across as very confident, and that pays off in many ways. Peter impresses the Initech consultants (John C. McGinley and Paul Willson) brought in to orchestrate layoffs; his straight talk pegs him to rise up the corporate ladder. Peter also breaks up with Anne and quickly lands Joanna.

All isnít perfect, though. When the consultants lay off Samir and Michael, Peter leads them in a computer virus scheme designed to earn money. Ala Superman III, this takes fractions of pennies from various transactions and sends them to a special account. The money adds up and becomes substantial over time. However, things go awry, and the rest of the movie follows the results.

When Office Space hit in 1999, writer/director Mike Judge remained best known for Beavis and Butt-Head. Heck, I suppose heís still best known for that series, and that may have affected the filmís reception. Viewers who expected it to fall along the same lines as B&B would be disappointed, for Space much more closely echoes the low-key humor of Judgeís series King of the Hill.

Not that I mean to say that Space and Hill are similar. The two efforts look at dissimilar subjects and donít connect in obvious thematic ways. However, they both derive much of their humor from small twists of real-life situations. Theyíre subtle pieces that donít often provide gales of laughter. Instead, they resonate with truth and quiet amusement.

Usually I criticize films that lack coherent stories, but in the case of Office Space, I feel the opposite. The flick works best when it lacks any real narrative. For its first half, itís a blast. Although Iíve never worked in a setting like Initech, I can understand the humor and connect to the gags. The film offers a veritable catchphrase factory as we meet all of the personalities at the company.

Once the formal plot kicks into motion, though, the flick starts to sag. In its initial half, it takes more of a Seinfeld line. As we watch Peter succeed at work due to his unusual behavior, it strongly echoes the Seinfeld in which George prospered when he did the opposite of his usual instincts. Space doesnít rip off that show, but it follows a similar line.

This gets lost along the way as the movie digs into its criminal caper elements. Thatís a shame, for the second half provides substantially less humor and entertainment. The characters feel less real and the situations lack the same punch. It seems like Judge panicked and decided he couldnít make a movie about nothing so he tacked on a plot.

Thatís too bad since the first half is so good. I think the story of Peterís ascension is more than enough to carry the film, especially since its main pleasures come from the little moments. For instance, one of the few memorable moments in the second half occurs when borderline autistic coworker Milton (Stephen Root) frets whether heíll get a piece of a birthday cake. Space needs more of that and less of a criminal caper.

As an aside, Space presents some of the most rampant product placement Iíve seen. Everywhere you look, we see Pepsi ads or Pepsi products. Joanna drinks what appears to be the same giant Pepsi coming and going from a party! They should retitle the flick Pepsi Presents Office Space.

Even with those negatives, I still think Office Space succeeds. The first half engenders enough good will to make the second half tolerable. Itís the kind of movie you can watch repeatedly and still enjoy.

The DVD Grades: Picture B-/ Audio B/ Bonus D-

Office Space appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1 on this single-sided, single-layered DVD; the image has not been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. Despite the absence of anamorphic enhancement, the transfer looked pretty solid.

Sharpness was consistently good. A smidgen of softness crept into some wider shots, but this didnít occur with frequency. Most of the movie looked reasonably concise and accurate. Only sporadic instances of jagged edges and shimmering occurred, and I noticed no edge enhancement. Source flaws stayed minor. I saw a few specks and marks but not anything terribly distracting.

As expected, the film displayed low-key colors. This was a drab palette with very few lively tones. Within those parameters, the hues were generally acceptable. Blacks tended to be somewhat flat, while shadows were decent. Some low-light shots seemed slightly dense, but most were fine. This was a watchable image without any significant concerns.

To my surprise, the Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack of Office Space had a little kick to it. Make no mistake: much of the mix remained restrained. The office setting didnít offer a lot of opportunity for slam-bang action, and the track usually reflected a sense of light ambience.

However, the audio managed to become involving on occasion. A few musical numbers filled the spectrum well, and some of the showier sequences like Peter's dreams opened up matters nicely. The surrounds added enough to make them useful.

No issues with audio quality emerged. Speech was consistently natural and crisp, and I noticed no signs of edginess. Music demonstrated pretty good dynamics. Some of the rap tunes used the subwoofer well, and the tracks were always nicely represented. Effects tended to be subdued, but the louder bits scored. Again, those usually popped up in dreams, and they boasted deep bass. This was a perfectly satisfying mix for this movie.

Only a couple minor extras complete the set. In addition to the filmís trailer, we get a Cast section. This merely shows photos and names for eight actors. No biographical information appears.

Inconsistent but mostly entertaining, Office Space works best when it doesnít bother to emphasize plot. It provides a funny and incisive look at the workplace and succeeds in its low-key way. The DVD presents decent to good visuals and audio but lacks substantial extras. I like the movie enough to recommend it, but this isnít a special DVD.

To rate this film visit the Special Edition With Flair! review of OFFICE SPACE

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