Office Space (1999)

I watched Office Space for the first time last night, and I thought I’d give my general impressions of the film. Though the category is called “movie reviews,” I don’t think these should be considered as such. What I’m doing, and what I think I’ve always done with my reviews, is try to express what I felt and took away from a particular work; not rating, ranking, or suggesting that something is or is not worth watching.

What I got out of Office Space was mostly a good time, an anti-establishment, rebellious blip of a movie that’s fun but not exactly deep. It plays out like an alternate history version of Fight Club (which came out the same year) wherein the nameless narrator finds peace at work, rather than group therapy sessions and street fights. Peter, hero of Office Space, is basically hypnotized into taking it easy at work, and finding the confidence to ask out Joanna the waitress (played by Jennifer Aniston). I had absolutely zero idea that hypnotherapy had anything to do with the core concept of Office Space, but it’s really just a means to get Peter to become rebellious through acting in his own interests. That he doesn’t come around to making this decision on his own, but rather through an unfortunate hypnotherapy accident, was something I expected to come up at some point in the movie. Peter’s office-disturbing antics, perfectly set to Geto Boys’ “Damn It Feels Good To Be A Gangsta” (1992), are richly therapeutic, and fun to watch, but all a result of hypnosis and not a personal decision – so while Peter’s fun to root for, he’s not a great character.

While I’m on the subject of not-great-characters, I want to talk about Joanna. Introduced as the pretty girl that steal’s Peter’s heart (but he can’t ask her out because he might be in a relationship already, with a woman who gives off a might-be-cheating vibe), Joanna never moves past the point of being an object for Peter to win. Joanna and Peter both hate their jobs, and they both like Kung-Fu movies, and that’s the extent to which they’re a good match. Joanna has dialogue for when Peter wins her over, when she’s talking to her male boss at the restaurant, when she’s defending herself from Peter who rudely yells at her for sleeping his boss (years ago), and for when she (of course) accepts Peter’s apology. Joanna and Peter’s relationship is otherwise fit into to the previously mentioned “Peter is a rebel” montage.

Office Space is better than decent, it has a great 90’s hip-hop soundtrack, and there are some really great laughs to be had (Diedrich Bader’s character is gold every brief second he’s on screen), but the core “I got hypnotized into becoming a likeable rebel” premise, and the incredibly shallow stapled-on romance plot leave the film short of what I’d consider a great comedy.

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