|L-R: Rob Livingston, David Herman and Ajay Naidu in 'Office Space'|
What I enjoy most about
watching movies is the fact that they tell a story. While most tell an
imaginary one, others are inspired from real life. And then there are those
which while imaginary, feel more real than the air around you. This 1999 cult
comedy is one such film. Written and directed by Mike Judge, this workplace
comedy is as real as it gets. And while it came out in 1999, it is as relevant
today (especially in India) as it was in USA when it released.
It tells the story of Peter
Gibbons (Ron Livingston), a disgruntled programmer at a software company
plagued by bureaucracy and management. His two work friends include Samir
Nagheenanajar (Ajay Naidu) and Michael Bolton (David Herman), both of whom are
equally frustrated with the work but prefer working to keep their jobs safe.
The story takes a turn when the company brings in two consultants Bob Slydell
(John C. McGinley) and Bob Porter (Paul Willson), to help
with cutting expenses, mainly through downsizing. The movie also stars Jennifer
Aniston who plays Joanna, a waitress who hates her job and is irritated by her
boss. The rest of the movie follows Peter who due to a brand new attitude
(thanks to a half complete hypnotic session) brings his workplace down, along
with his friends.
The movie works because
of the fantastic screenplay and the spot on characterization of not only the people
but also the office environment. The moment that you enter the place, full of
cubicles filled with computers and printers that don’t work, you know that you
are known territory. The jackass boss who calls you at work on weekends, the ‘suck
your soul’ management and most importantly the culture of promoting asslickers
over real brains, it’s all there. And the
movie runs on the premise that we would know all this, because most of the
screen time is given to the happenings after Peter’s transformation.
The movie has many
memorable scenes but the one that I love the most is when Peter, Samir and
Micheal together beat up a printer in an open ground, with baseball bats, after
stolen it from the workplace. Having daydreamed about smashing some of the
office computers myself over years, this scene is nothing short of magic. Also
hilarious is Peter’s scene with the consultants, when he comes forth with
exactly how he spends a day in the office. “Yeah, I just stare at my desk; but
it looks like I'm working. I do that for probably another hour after lunch,
too. I'd say in a given week I probably only do about fifteen minutes of real,
actual, work,” says Peter. In that moment he speaks not just for himself but
for a thousand other people who have gone through the same thing.
For those of you who
get deterred by movies inspired from real life, thinking they are bore, please
do take a look at this one. The reality in this one is limited to the ‘boredom’
that each one of us have experienced while working in an office where the
computers are worth more than the employees.
Labels: Check it out, Comedy, CRITIC'S PICKS, English