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  • Writer's pictureThomas Duncan

Office Space (1999) ft. Adam Vanderwerff


Guest: Adam Vanderwerff (Duncan Disability Law)


Cast:

  • Mike Judge, Writer/Director

  • John Frizzell, Music

  • Ron Livingston as Peter Gibbons

  • Jennifer Aniston as Joanna

  • Stephen Root as Milton Waddams

  • Gary Cole as Bill Lumbergh

  • John C. McGinley as Bob Slydell

  • David Herman as Michael Bolton

  • Ajay Naidu as Samir Nagheenanajar

  • Diedrich Bader as Lawrence

  • Michael McShane as Dr. Swanson

  • Richard Riehle as Tom Smykowski

  • Alexandra Wentworth as Anne

  • Greg Pitts as Drew

  • Paul Willson as Bob Porter

  • Todd Duffey as Brian


*Recognition:

  • Office Space was released on February 19, 1999.

  • It was a box office disappointment, making $12.2 million on a $10 million production budget; however, after repeated airings on Comedy Central, it sold well on home video, and has become a cult film.

  • The cultural impact has been felt as well with several aspects of the film having become Internet memes; A scene in which the three main characters systematically destroy a dysfunctional printer has been widely parodied; Swingline introducing a red stapler to its product line after the Milton character used one painted in that color in the film.

  • Four years after the film's release, Judge was working on the Idiocracy screenplay with Etan Cohen. During a break, the two went to an Austin Starbucks, and the baristas were doing impressions of Lumbergh. Cohen asked Judge if they were only doing it because he was present, whereupon the barista turned around and asked the two if they had ever seen the movie.

  • Other cast members found the film had reached people when strangers began associating them with their characters. Cole said that a year after release, on the service jobs he works when not acting, people began shouting dialogue from the movie at him. Aniston says that even today, when she is eating "at a certain type of restaurant", people will ask if she likes their flair.

  • Four years after the film's release, Judge recalled that one of his assistant directors on the film told him they had gone out to eat at a TGI Fridays and noticed that the waitstaff were no longer wearing buttons on their uniforms, the "flair" Joanna quits her job over in the film. Asked why, the manager told him that after Office Space had come out, customers started making jokes about it, so the chain dropped the requirement from its dress code. "So, maybe I made the world a better place" he told Deadline Hollywood in 2014.

  • Office Space currently holds an 81% among critics on RT, a 68 score on Metacritic, and a 3.7/5 on Letterboxd.


Plot Summary: In the suburban labyrinth of cubicles and copy machines, "Office Space" emerges as a wry and incisive commentary on the soul-sucking ennui of corporate America. Director Mike Judge masterfully crafts a tale that delves into the mundane yet oddly compelling lives of software company employees who find themselves trapped in a cycle of monotony and middle-management absurdity.


At its core, "Office Space" is a comedic exploration of existential dread, centering on the disillusioned Peter Gibbons (played with deadpan brilliance by Ron Livingston), who undergoes a profound existential crisis triggered by a botched hypnotherapy session. Liberated from the shackles of ambition, Peter embarks on a subversive journey of workplace rebellion alongside his equally disenchanted comrades, Michael Bolton (David Herman) and Samir Nagheenanajar (Ajay Naidu).


Judge navigates the murky waters of office politics with razor-sharp wit, skewering corporate culture and its absurdities with precision and hilarity. From the mind-numbing TPS reports to the insidious machinations of upper management, every facet of office life becomes fair game for Judge's biting satire.


Did You Know:

  • In 2022, software engineer Ermenildo Valdez Castro was inspired by the movie Office Space, conducting a similar scheme from the movie by editing code to divert shipping fees to a personal account. A report from the Seattle police mentions that a folder named "OfficeSpace project" was found on Castro's work laptop and Castro admitted he was indeed inspired by the movie. Castro stole over $300,000 from the company Zulily.

  • "TPS report" has come to connote pointless, mindless paperwork, and an example of "literacy practices" in the work environment that are "meaningless exercises imposed upon employees by an inept and uncaring management". According to Judge, the abbreviation stood for "Test Program Set" in the movie.

  • Stephen Root says he realized the movie's impact when people started asking him to sign their staplers. The red Swingline stapler featured prominently in the film was not available until April 2002 when the company released it in response to repeated requests by fans of the film. Its appearance in the film was achieved by taking a standard Swingline stapler and spray-painting it red. Root says when he shows up on sets today, the crew has usually ordered several boxes of red Swingline staplers and left them waiting for him.

  • Mike Judge hated the marketing campaign for the film, particularly the poster, and believes it was one of the reasons why the film did not do well at the box office. For the film's release on home video, he was able to convince the studio to add the character of Milton to the poster, peeking out from behind the guy covered in Post-It notes.

  • As of October 2018, the term "ass-clown" was officially entered in Webster's Dictionary, crediting writer Mike Judge for first using it in "Office Space."


Best Performance: Stephen Root (Milton)/Mike Judge (Director/Writer)/Ron Livingston (Peter)

Best Secondary Performance: Ron Livingston (Peter)/Diedrich Bader (Lawrence)/Gary Cole (Lumbergh)

Most Charismatic Award: Diedrich Bader (Lawrence)/Mike Judge (Director/Writer)/Gary Cole (Lumbergh)

Best Scene:

  • Morning Traffic

  • Lumbergh

  • Hypnosis

  • The Bobs

  • Breaking the Cubicle

  • Fax Demolition

  • Superman 3

  • Resolution

Favorite Scene: Lumbergh

Most Indelible Moment: Lumbergh


In Memorium:

  • Bob Edwards, 76, American journalist (NPR) and radio host (Morning Edition, The Bob Edwards Show), Peabody Award winner (1999)

  • Mojo Nixon, 66, American musician ("Debbie Gibson Is Pregnant with My Two-Headed Love Child", "Elvis is Everywhere") and actor (Super Mario Bros., Great Balls of Fire!).

  • Michael Jayston, 88, English actor (Only Fools and Horses, Doctor Who, Nicholas and Alexandra)

  • Toby Keith, 62, American country singer ("Should've Been a Cowboy", "How Do You Like Me Now?!", "Red Solo Cup") 


Best Lines/Funniest Lines:

Milton Waddams: I was told that I could listen to the radio at a reasonable volume from nine to eleven, I told Bill that if Sandra is going to listen to her headphones while she's filing then I should be able to listen to the radio while I'm collating so I don't see why I should have to turn down the radio because I enjoy listening at a reasonable volume from nine to eleven.


Samir: No one in this country can ever pronounce my name right. It's not that hard: Na-ghee-na-na-jar. Nagheenanajar.

Michael Bolton: Yeah, well, at least your name isn't Michael Bolton.

Samir: You know, there's nothing wrong with that name.

Michael Bolton: There was nothing wrong with it... until I was about twelve years old and that no-talent ass clown became famous and started winning Grammys.

Samir: Hmm... well, why don't you just go by Mike instead of Michael?

Michael Bolton: No way! Why should I change? He's the one who sucks.


Bob Slydell: I'd like to move us right along to a Peter Gibbons. Now we had a chance to meet this young man, and boy that's just a straight shooter with upper management written all over him.


Bill Lumbergh: Oh, and remember: next Friday... is Hawaiian shirt day. So, you know, if you want to, go ahead and wear a Hawaiian shirt and jeans.


Peter Gibbons: The thing is, Bob, it's not that I'm lazy, it's that I just don't care.


Milton Waddams: The ratio of people to cake is too big.


Milton Waddams: Excuse me? Excuse me, senor? May I speak to you please? I asked for a mai tai, and they brought me a pina colada, and I said no salt, NO salt for the margarita, but it had salt on it, big grains of salt, floating in the glass...


Peter Gibbons: Eight, Bob. So that means that when I make a mistake, I have eight different people coming by to tell me about it. That's my only real motivation is not to be hassled, that and the fear of losing my job. But you know, Bob, that will only make someone work just hard enough not to get fired.


Lawrence: Hey man, there's t!##!e$ on channel 9!


Bob Slydell: ...We find it's always better to fire people on a Friday. Studies have statistically shown that there's less chance of an incident if you do it at the end of the week.


Michael Bolton: I told those fudge-packers I liked Michael Bolton's music.


Tom Smykowski: It was a "Jump to Conclusions" mat. You see, it would be this mat that you would put on the floor... and would have different CONCLUSIONS written on it that you could JUMP TO.

Michael Bolton: That's the worst idea I've ever heard in my life, Tom.

Samir: Yes, this is horrible, this idea.


Milton Waddams: Excuse me, I believe you have my stapler...


Milton Waddams: [muttering] I could set the building on fire.


Bill Lumbergh: Hello Peter, what's happening? Ummm, I'm gonna need you to go ahead come in tomorrow. So if you could be here around 9 that would be great, mmmk... oh oh! and I almost forgot ahh, I'm also gonna need you to go ahead and come in on Sunday too, kay. We ahh lost some people this week and ah, we sorta need to play catch up.


Bob Porter: We're gonna be getting rid of these people here... First, Mr. Samir Naga... Naga... Naga... Not gonna work here anymore, anyway.


Peter Gibbons: So I was sitting in my cubicle today, and I realized, ever since I started working, every single day of my life has been worse than the day before it. So that means that every single day that you see me, that's on the worst day of my life.

Dr. Swanson: What about today? Is today the worst day of your life?

Peter Gibbons: Yeah.

Dr. Swanson: Wow, that's messed up.


Dom Portwood: Hi, Peter. What's happening? We need to talk about your TPS reports.

Peter Gibbons: Yeah. The coversheet. I know, I know. Uh, Bill talked to me about it.

Dom Portwood: Yeah. Did you get that memo?

Peter Gibbons: Yeah. I got the memo. And I understand the policy. And the problem is just that I forgot the one time. And I've already taken care of it so it's not even really a problem anymore.

Dom Portwood: Ah! Yeah. It's just we're putting new coversheets on all the TPS reports before they go out now. So if you could go ahead and try to remember to do that from now on, that'd be great. All right!


Peter Gibbons: What would you do if you had a million dollars?

Lawrence: I'll tell you what I'd do, man: two chicks at the same time, man.


Peter Gibbons: Let me ask you something. When you come in on Monday and you're not feeling real well, does anyone ever say to you, "Sounds like someone has a case of the Mondays?"

Lawrence: No. No, man. Shit, no, man. I believe you'd get your ass kicked sayin' something like that, man.


Peter Gibbons: I can't believe what a bunch of nerds we are. We're looking up "money laundering" in a dictionary.


Nina: Corporate accounts payable, Nina speaking. JUST a moment.


The Stanley Rubric:

Legacy: 7.67

Impact/Significance: 4.67

Novelty: 5.5

Classic-ness: 8

Rewatchability: 8.33

Audience Score: 9.05 (88% Google, 93% RT)

Total: 43.22


Remaining Questions:

  • What snaps Peter out of hypnosis?

  • How does Milton cash the check?

  • Do you think the Bobs ever cleared out some of the middle management?

  • How hard is it to root out people who aren't adding anything to the cause?

  • Why are Michael and Samir surprised that they are expendable?

  • Do they not have computer backups off-site for accounting or a set of books with an off-site accountant?

  • How do you not immediately ask "Bill?, Bill Lumbergh?" to clarify?

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