Office Space

4 Jun

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Office Space is, by genre-definition, a comedy film about a group of office workers who hate their jobs and become so disillusioned that they decide to rebel against their employers. This happens by way of attempting to defraud the company for massive amounts of money.

The story focuses on Peter Gibbons (Ron Livingston), a man becoming increasingly frustrated by how mundane his job is. The early parts of the movie show why he is becoming so annoyed. He is being poorly managed, his bosses don’t listen to, or care about, anything he says and his colleagues are each incredibly irritating. Well, apart from two of them. They’re not irritating because they’re his friends. They are Michael Bolton (David Herman) and Samir Nagheenanajar (Ajay Naidu).

The names of those two characters are supposed to be funny. Michael Bolton because he shares a name with a Grammy-winning singer, and is constantly asked if he is related to him. This didn’t make me laugh the first time, so you can imagine how irritated I was when this joke kept repeating. Samir’s surname is HILARIOUS because American’s can’t pronounce it. Hilarious isn’t it? Why aren’t you laughing? You obviously don’t get the joke.

Right, it’s funny because it’s a foreign sounding name and because it’s quote long, American’s struggle to pronounce it. See, now you find it side-splittingly funny don’t you? Well…no.  No it’s not. I assume the comedy is supposed to come from the ignorance of those that can’t pronounce it, rather than the name itself, but regardless of where the intended laughs are, they fail to materialise. Which sets the tone nicely for the rest of the film.

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When the company appoints a consultant to look at the way they operate, the boys realise the writing is on the wall for them. When it becomes clear his friends are going to lose their jobs, Peter suggests that they scam the company. The guys agree and get underway in their efforts to defraud the company of a vast amount of money. It isn’t ruining much to tell you that this doesn’t all go as the trio hoped. There follows some unfunny scenes in which the problem develops and then there’s a moral quandary for the main protagonist Peter. I am dedicating no more time to that part of the story because, quite frankly, it doesn’t deserve your attention.

Also thrown in is a love story in which Peter falls for waitress Joanna (Jennifer Aniston). It is just about the most generic, clichéd and boring romantic sub plot you could write. Things go well at first, then there’s a big argument and Peter has to do some soul searching. If you’ve never seen a film before in your life, you might not be able to predict how this unfurls. To be fair, I don’t really have a problem with predictable story lines. It’s ok to watch a film and not need to follow it closely to see where it’s going. What can’t be forgiven though is writing a boring story, and that is exactly what the love-story element of this film is – it’s so achingly dull.

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I might be being over-sensitive in this next point, but there was a repeated joke that made me feel uncomfortable. One of the employees where Peter works is Milton Waddams (Stephen Root). To all intents and purposes, Milton is a bully victim. He’s red-faced, has thick glasses and a silly moustache. He stutters and has a whiny voice and nobody cares about him or listens to him because of it. Now, Milton’s story arc is such that he is able to deliver a come-uppance of sorts, but that doesn’t change the fact that throughout the film the joke seems to be on his unfortunate appearance and mannerisms. I’m not sure if we’re supposed to sympathise with him or laugh at him, but it appears to be base level comedy that I was not comfortable with and, at any rate, it just is not funny.

The music choice for this film was a little odd. Where music does feature, it is usually in the form of gangster rap. My assumption is that this should be funny because of how juxtaposed it is to the white-collar roles of the main characters. It didn’t really work for me though. It added little to the film at all, and if I’m right in saying it is meant to work on a comic level, it fails miserably.

I will give this film some credit for at least having a decent premise. It’s just that, as writer and director, Mike Judge seriously fails to actually make the film interesting or amusing. The acting is adequate and nothing more. I have little else to say about this one other than I would recommend against watching it – you won’t be missing out on anything.

4/10

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