“Office Space” is one of those films I had heard a lot about but hadn’t gotten around to seeing until its DVD release. With Fox issuing this new Special Edition (With Flair!, of course), I figured now was the time and, boy, am I glad I finally sat down to watch it.
Perhaps you need to have some experience with cubicle culture to really appreciate this film, which could be why it did so-so at the box office but became a cult hit on home video. I’ve spent my fair share of time in such an environment, and I have to say a lot of the film hit home with me. I can relate to all of it, from annoying cubicle dwellers (I once sat next to someone who constantly inhaled snot rather than blow his nose) to clueless management (I’ll never forget the process of developing the product development process, which was called Sumo for some reason I don’t remember and which culminated in a celebration where everyone received shirts with squirrels on them (the reason for that escapes me too); needless to say, the company still struggled to get anything out the door). Mike Judge really hit the ball out of the park there.
“Office Space” tells the tale of Peter Gibbons, a disgruntled software programmer who shares his disgruntlement with his pals, Michael Bolton (no relation to that ass clown singer) and Samir Nagheenanajar, a transplant from the Middle East who was looking for the American dream and instead found a printer that confounded him. He’s hot for Joanna, who works at a TGI Fridays-like place called Chotchkie’s, but he wants to make things right with his girlfriend.
Through a little plot twist I won’t reveal here, Peter becomes a changed man, blowing off his boss’s request to come in over the weekend and developing the chutzpah to drop his girlfriend and ask Joanna out. While everyone at his job freaks out over the arrival of two independent consultants who are certain to tell management who to lay off, Peter decides he doesn’t give a crap, because his boss doesn’t inspire him anyway. When he tells the consultants that, they recommend him as management material.
Despite his lack of drive, Peter is propelled up the corporate ladder, but he soon learns that his pals are headed for the unemployment line. Snapping out of his daze, he initiates a plan to get back at their employer. The situation, of course, becomes more complicated from there.
While no one will ever accuse “Office Space” of strictly adhering to realism, I don’t think it matters because the film is supposed to be a satire of cubicle culture anyway. And when you delve into the realm of satire, you’re sure to distort reality in order to make your point. I will say that one thing bugged me about the ending (don’t worry, I won’t spoil anything): While paper records can be destroyed, digital records of the main characters’ deeds likely still exist elsewhere. I suppose if you dwell on that, it’s hard to imagine how they escaped the wrath of their employer. But, of course, Peter made the obligatory attempt to set things straight, so I suppose it all washes out in the end.
“Office Space” was out before on DVD, but it was a bare bones, non-anamorphic edition. This Special Edition With Flair! features not only an anamorphic print but also a 30-minute documentary, eight deleted scenes that total several minutes, the theatrical trailer and DVD-ROM content that I can’t comment on because, of course, it does not work on Macs. I read elsewhere online that this edition was also supposed to include a commentary by director Mike Judge as well as the animated shorts that formed the inspiration for the film, but those things were either dropped by Fox or nixed by Judge.
That’s a shame, because a commentary would have been a really nice supplement to the “Out of the Office” documentary, which covers the major points most people wonder about: how the film came about, where they found a red Swingline stapler when the company didn’t make any at that time, the casting and so forth. We get plenty of comments from Judge and the principal cast members, which is nice. We also get to see brief clips of the “Milton” cartoons that Judge created several years before he became famous for “Beavis and Butthead,” as well as glimpses of deleted scenes not shown elsewhere on this disc. The deleted stuff with John McGinley is fun to watch; that guy must be a blast on the set.
The deleted scenes aren’t in very good shape, but they’re still worth watching. There’s nothing terribly earth-shattering here, but there are two moments cut from the end of the film that probably engendered a lot of debate during post-production. I assume Judge thought they were beating the joke to death, especially that crane shot, but it’s always fun to watch that kind of stuff and come to your own conclusions.
It’s a shame this DVD isn’t as feature-packed as Fox initially promised, especially with the lack of a commentary, but I realize “Office Space” is a minor film in the grand scheme of things. Studios can’t give every release a huge budget, so I prefer they put their money into the classic films that really deserve it.