Positioned between the technological boom of the 90’s and the panic of the upcoming Y2K scare, Office Space is a satirical comedy about the banality of corporate life and the soul crushing existence of a cubicle career. Peter, Michael, and Samir all work at Initech, a technology company that updates bank software for the year 2000 changeover. In various humorous and frustratingly mind numbing scenes we see the daily frustrations suffered by our three white collar workers. They suffer monotonous and repetitive secretary droning, co-worker squabbling over the office minutiae, a bureaucratic level number of superiors, and constant micromanaging over the smallest of details. Two efficiency consultants have been hired to interview the entire company and find ways to clear out inefficient clogs and hire a couple of college graduates. This process is explained later in the film by one of the two Bob’s.
LSome of the film’s funniest interactions are with the two consultants Bob (John C. McGinley) and Bob (Paul Willson) Peter (Ron Livingston) is in a depressive state and it directly has to do with his career. He tells a therapist he visits with his girlfriend that every day he feels he’s living the worst day of his life. The therapist asks him “How about today, is today the worst day of your life?” Peter says Oh, yeah. “Wow, that’s messed up.” The Therapist responds, Peter’s girlfriend gives him a dirty look. It’s a funny moment but Peter’s in real despair. He is hypnotized by the therapist, but while bringing him back from a relaxation hypnosis the therapist keels over and dies from a heart attack. But despite this critical development he just sits there in that same blissful state.
The next day his Boss had requested Peter to come in and he just stays in bed all day sleeping. Finally waking up around three in the afternoon he answers his ringing phone. His girlfriend has called him and wants to know why he’s not at work. He tells her that he just didn’t feel like it. He then proceeds to hang up on her when he’s done with the conversation. He goes back to bed still in a subdued state. She calls back to leave a message to tell him she’s been cheating on him. Peter stays in a relaxed almost zen like state and ceases to care about his work responsibilities. He misses many days of work and is as carefree as anyone can possibly be and still be somewhat ethical. Peter casually strolls in late one day, in street clothes and sees Michael who tells him he has a meeting with the company efficiency consultants. Peter proceeds to tell him that he’s been up to nothing and it was everything he thought it could be. This is a moment that I strongly relate to, being able to just walk away from a fruitless time suck that just keeps paying the bills but offers no deeper meaning or satisfaction. Michael pleads with Peter to cancel it, make something up, after all his job’s at stake.
Instead Peter tells him he’s never felt better and has nothing to worry about. He takes the meeting with the two Bob’s. He very casually jokes and socializes with them in a care free manner that is puzzling and hilarious to watch. He explains to them his honest take on his corporate living hell. That he has eight bosses and that his sole motivation is to not be hassled. That because of this construct it does nothing to motivate production. They are left impressed as Peter leaves in what can only be described as a farcical manner. In subsequent scenes they let Peter know they plan to lay off both Michael and Samir (Ajay Naidu) and give him a promotion.
Peter tells them both during a night of heavy drinking and socializing. They all make a pact to install a virus in the Initech servers that will slowly milk out fractions of pennies and place them into a private account. Michael (David Herman) explains it as the bank hack from Superman IV. Soon though, there is a problem with the amount of money getting placed into the account every day. Michael makes an error and instead of fractions it’s taking whole dollars.
Jennifer Aniston makes an appearance as the love interest to Livingston’s Peter as Joanna, a waitress at a chain restaurant who hates her job. She acts as the moral compass for Peter when he’s trying to determine what he’s going to do with all the money they’ve siphoned off from the Initech bank software. The most humorous aspect of her job duties consist of the flair or personal knick knack attire that personalize you to your serving tables. There is one moment where she loses her shit on her boss who keeps pestering her on the number of flair she has on her suspenders. Upon checking the account Peter sees they’ve acquired hundreds of thousands of dollars from the Initech software. The three men come to the conclusion they need to close the account and return the money as soon as possible. They deliver the money but soon after the building burns down due to a separate circumstance. The money is gone but so are the traces of their guilt. Office Space is a really funny look at the corporate monotony of modern work life. A rebellious yawp that resonates with all of us that are not living our dreams as careers. It’s a painful and funny examination of the realities of our comfortable modern existence and the limitations it ultimately puts on us that we have to accept.