Sunday, September 7, 2014

The Essentials- "Office Space" (1999)

The Essentials- #73
 
Office Space
 
Every week day when I get to work, I usually see someone who looks tired, glum, not ready to start the week. Some days, I can't help myself but walk over and say "Sounds like, somebody has a case of the Mondays." Then my co-worker smiles, and there is a brief recharging of the battery that only lasts mere moments. I found that quote from "Office Space." A silly, little comedy that I have noticed has stuck with me over the years. Whether it was school or work, having to go to a organized obligation for either education or monetary profit feels like a chore most of the time. Even if you love what you do, sometimes our dreams can be tedious and strenuous at times. "Office Space" is a drug for that particular stress, it is a cure for the weekly itch. This is a movie that understands work culture and its pros and cons so well that it lands every punch line successfully. It is a movie with such rich characters that finding a favorite will be hard. It is also a good movie that tells us that it is okay to be jaded by your job at times, because its a "job" and it allows us not to take life so seriously all the time.
 
The laughs start almost immediately, when Peter Gibbons (Ron Livingston) is driving to his cubicle job. He gets stuck in a lane full of traffic, and when he sees a hole in the other lane, he takes it. Only to fall into another line of traffic as his previous lane begins to move again. He then moves back into his old lane just for it to stop and the traffic in the previous, previous lane begins to move again, all while a man with a walker has made up the street faster that Gibbons and his car. It is glorious off-beat humor and the film is just warming up at that point.
 
Once Gibbons finally gets to his office, he is instantly grilled by his boss Bill Lumbergh (the instantly iconic Gary Cole), so badly that Gibbons asks his two friends Samir (Ajay Naidu) and Michael (David Herman) to coffee. Gibbons wants so bad to get out of this job and start...what? Something new? He doesn't really know what he wants, even as he goes to see an occupational hypnotherapist (Michael McShane) who dies in the middle of Gibbons' hypnosis. This keeps Gibbons on some kind of high, something that makes him care less about his fate. Gibbons begins living his life in complete euphoric bliss, not worrying about work or its outcome. This bliss even allows two business evaluation clerks (John C. McGinley and Paul Lee Willson) to recommend Gibbons for a promotion. This inspires Gibbons to attempt to rip-off his company with his two friends, which created a huge fiasco in itself.
 
Two things that keep people coming back to this movie is the work by Gary Cole and the work by Stephen Root. Gary Cole's Bill Lumbergh is a hilarious creation. He has a Martha Stewart type voice and demeanor and the way Cole presents this character makes me laugh over and over again. It is amazing since Cole doesn't do anything slapstick or off-the-rails, it is a relatively normal performance, but the way Cole manages his characters ticks and mannerisms is what makes the character memorable. The same goes for Root's Milton, an employee who works with Gibbons. Milton is funny because he is incredibly odd and awkward, and Root relishes those oddities and weird choices. Root embraces the character tenfold and becomes more of a human than a character from a script. These two characters are the reason to see the movie, and they are the biggest highlight.
 
The work of the rest of the actors is top-notch. I love Livingston in this movie and it proves just how underrated he is as an actor. His chemistry with Naidu and Herman is equally top-notch and they make a great trio of lunacy. Jennifer Aniston pops in and becomes a love interest for Gibbons and also has serious issues with her workplace. I have always liked Aniston and it seems this type of comedy suits her more than her big, cliché-ridden movies. I wish Aniston would get more work like this because she would nail it. I also like the subtle work by Orlando Jones and Dierich Bader, all of whom are funny.
 
"Office Space" is a great Friday movie, if you haven't seen it, give it a try.   

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