Office Space (1999)


Office Space is a 1999 American comedy film written and directed by Mike Judge. It satirizes work life in a typical 1990s software company, focusing on a handful of individuals who are fed up with their jobs. The film's sympathetic portrayal of ordinary IT workers garnered it a cult following among those in that profession, but the film also addresses themes familiar to office workers and white collar employees in general. It was filmed in Las Colinas, Texas and Austin, Texas. Office Space is based on the Milton series of cartoons created by Mike Judge. Office Space was Mike Judge's foray into live action film and his second full length motion picture release (the first being the animated Beavis and Butt-head Do America). The promotional campaign for Office Space often associated it with Beavis and Butt-head. While not a box office success, the film eventually developed into a cult film and sold very well on VHS and DVD.


Peter Gibbons (Ron Livingston) is a disgruntled programmer at Initech, a software company plagued by bureaucracy and excessive management. He spends his days "staring at his desk" instead of reprogramming bank software for the then-expected Y2K disaster. His co-workers include Samir Nagheenanajar (Ajay Naidu), who is annoyed by the fact that nobody can pronounce his last name correctly; Michael Bolton (David Herman), who loathes having the same name as the famous singer, whom he hates; and Milton Waddams (Stephen Root), a meek, fixated collator who constantly mumbles to himself (most notably about his workmates' borrowing his favorite red Swingline stapler and about his ability to set the workplace on fire) and who was laid off years ago but was never informed and continued receiving paychecks due to a payroll computer glitch. All four are repeatedly bullied and harassed by management, especially Initech's smarmy, callous vice president, Bill Lumbergh (Gary Cole). The staff are further agitated by the arrival of two consultants, informally known as "The Bobs" since they share the same first name, who are brought in to help with cutting expenses, mainly through downsizing. Peter is depressed, bored, and pushed around at work. He attends an occupational hypnotherapy session urged upon him by his girlfriend, Anne. The obese hypnotherapist, Dr. Swanson (Mike McShane), suddenly dies of a heart attack before he can snap Peter out of a state of complete relaxation. The newly relaxed and still half-hypnotized Peter wakes up the next morning and ignores continued calls from Anne (who confesses to cheating and leaves him) and Lumbergh (who was expecting Peter to work over the weekend). Peter announces that he will simply not go to work anymore, instead pursuing his lifelong dream of "doing nothing," and asks out Joanna (Jennifer Aniston), a waitress who shares Peter's loathing of idiotic management and love of the television program Kung Fu. Joanna works at Chotchkie's, a restaurant that plays on TGI Friday's interior decoration and uniform standards (Joanna's hatred for her occupation eventually culminates in an argument with her boss and her being fired after she gives him the finger in front of some customers). Peter then begins removing items at work that exemplify his unhappiness (a door handle that shocked him on previous occasions, corporate slogan banners, a wall of his cubicle that blocks his view) and takes Lumbergh's parking spot. Despite Peter's poor attendance record, laziness and insubordination at work, he is promoted by the Bobs because of the positive impression he leaves upon them with his bluntness about problems within the office (specifically the overabundance of management). Meanwhile, Michael and Samir are downsized, seemingly a symptom of the disposability with which the consultants view most Initech employees. To exact revenge on Initech, the three friends decide to infect the accounting system with a computer virus, designed to divert fractions of pennies into a bank account they control. They also steal a frequently-malfunctioning fax machine from the office and beat it to pieces in a field. A misplaced decimal point causes the virus to steal over $300,000 in the first few days, a far more conspicuous loss to Initech. After a crisis of conscience and a discussion with Joanna, Peter writes a letter in which he takes all the blame for the crime, then slips an envelope containing the letter and the money (in unsigned traveler's checks) under the door of Lumbergh's office late one night. He fully expects to be arrested the next morning, but his problem solves itself: That night, Milton — having been deprived of his stapler by Lumbergh, increasingly ignored by management generally, forced to move to the cockroach-infested basement, and having his paychecks finally cut off — enters Lumbergh's office to discuss the matter, whereupon he finds the traveler's checks under the door. He finally snaps, takes the traveler's checks, and follows through on his numerous (if barely audible) warnings that he could set fire to the Initech office building. Peter finally finds a job that he likes: doing construction work with his next door neighbor, Lawrence. Samir and Michael get jobs at Intertrode, a rival company. While helping haul away the rubble from the fire, Peter finds Milton's stapler and "rescues" it, saying "I think I know someone who might want this". The last scene of the movie shows that Milton has made his way to a resort in Mexico with the money Peter left in Lumbergh's office. Milton is still not happy; he mumbles "I could put, I could put, Strychnine in the guacamole," because he is displeased with his drink.