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Film Review: Office Space
In 1999, Mike Judge released Office Space, which he also wrote. Starring Ron Livingston, Jennifer Aniston, Gary Cole, Stephen Root, David Herman, Ajay Naidu, Diedrich Bader, John C. McGinley, Joe Bays, and Alexandra Wentworth, the film grossed $12.8 million at the Box office. Having become a cult classic, Entertainment Weekly ranked it fifth on its list of 25 great comedies from the past 25 years and named it one of the 100 best films from 1983 to 2008. Further, following it’s opening weekend, Judge received a phone call from Jim Carrey’s agent stating he wanted to meet Judge and Chris Rock also called a couple weeks after.
Peter Gibbons is being driven out of his mind by his boss, Bill Lumbergh at the software company, Initech. However, when he gets distressed by hypnotherapy, he stops caring about his job, leading to a confession of how the company’s bloated bureaucracy stops him from being productive.
A good satirical look at the culture of working in an office, Office Space does well at presenting a company that behaves the exact opposite as it should towards its productivity and workforce. For one, there’s Lumbergh, who acts like what he does is helping the company and while some of his actions do, like him showing up to work on the weekend when other employees have to, many of his other actions are hurting it. For instance, he stops all the work just so he can give a speech on how the employees need to help the company, adding a lot of busy work and red tape. Further, he doesn’t seem to do any work at all and would rather hire consultants who tell him to fire his most competent employees. He also kills any sort of efficiency by asking employees to work seven days a week and seems to enjoy tormenting Milton in various ways, like making the man work for free and not telling him he was fired.
But that’s just the beginning for all of Milton’s misfortunes. The man had been laid off five years prior, but not only was he not told, the payroll wasn’t updated and when it was, the idea to avoid confrontation and the hassle thereof is what gave Lumbergh the justification for treating Milton worse and worse. Telling him to continually move his desk around at least two or three times a week and eventually being relegated to the basement, where he still won’t’ receive a paycheck, is just Lumbergh’s way of making it so he quits and doesn’t come off as the bad guy. But he still took the man’s red Swingline stapler.
Further, it’s Lumbergh who is one of the reasons that Peter gives for why he chooses to do the bare minimum. Him and Peter’s seven other bosses don’t give him an incentive to work except for the hope to not be hassled by them.
Also proving that what Lumbergh does is hurting the company is the mere presence of the Bobs as hiring them in an effort to improve the company ended up hurting it in the long run. Not only do they see Peter telling them that he has no incentive to do more than the bare minimum as grounds for promoting the man, they decide to axe Samir and Michael who are actually competent at their jobs and seem to employ a good work ethic.
But there’s also what they did to Tom, whose job was an incredible asset to Initech if he wasn’t canned by the Bobs. It required an understanding of how to turn the vague and loose customer requirements into concrete and defined specifications that the engineers could do something with as well as specify what is and isn’t possible to the customers. Tom had two different skillsets that were invaluable and he was axed. However, this could be because he really didn’t do well at explaining it with him to being on edge when called in for the interview. But it still shows that the actions of Lumbergh hiring the consultants to cut the fat out of Initech did more harm than good.
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