Underground Film Journal

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Movie Review: Office Space

I almost wasn’t going to see OFFICE SPACE this weekend, but then thought it would be appropriate to go since I got booted out of my job on Friday. Don’t weep for me, though, I’ve known it was coming for quite a few months now. In fact it was about a year ago when I found out TV GUIDE was about to acquire their biggest rival, my company, THE CABLE GUIDE.

At first it was the standard, “Don’t worry, this company’s been bought and sold a hundred times before. There aren’t going to be any major changes. This is going to be a major benefit to everybody. Blah blah blah…” In truth, it did turn out to be a major benefit to me because I had had the same job for about four years and was in the process of trying to move on.

Not that I think it really matters, but I might be legally inhibited to say some things about the merger. They aren’t bad things. Most everything has so far worked in my favor and I’m now in prime condition to find the exact job that I think is perfect for me.

Even though I had gotten tired of doing the same thing everyday and was dying to leave the company, I really count myself lucky to have had the job I did. I had gone to college for filmmaking, but after graduating thought I’d have a better time in the world of publishing. Having no standard educational background in writing or editing it took me awhile to find work for a publisher. THE CABLE GUIDE was the perfect opportunity to get my foot in the door and get the professional experience I needed to get started. From my résumé at the time, I may have seemed like a big risk but I’m glad my boss decided to take a chance on me. And I know she wasn’t disappointed either. I wouldn’t have let her been.

Everybody complains about work. From brutalized sweatshop workers in underdeveloped countries who make five cents an hour to corporate CEOs who make five hundred million a year, it’s standard human practice to bitch about your job. I’ve done more than my share of whining and moaning and complaining over the past five years. But I can honestly say that I have never truly, absolutely dreaded going into THE CABLE GUIDE every day.

There have been rough times. Some days I was so overworked I contemplated hanging myself. When I felt unappreciated and invisible to the upper echelons of management, I could have hired mob hitmen to take them out. But generally I got to work in a fun environment. Nothing extraordinarily inhuman was ever asked of me. I used to dress professional, but in a very relaxed, casual way. While some of the efforts seemed ridiculous, at least my company made some sort of genuine effort to make it look like they cared about us subordinates.

Most anti-work films and media, like OFFICE SPACE, focus on what idiots managers and supervisors and directors and bosses can be. That’s where I feel I was the luckiest. I’m no kiss-ass, but I am an extremely hard, dedicated worker. Though I certainly didn’t love everything about my supervisor, in general she was a pretty cool chick. I’m a nose-to-the-grindstone kinda person and she left me to my own devices so we developed a sturdy bond of mutual respect. Saying goodbye to her at the farewell happy hour was about the only time I felt sentimental about the whole thing.

I didn’t really get off on OFFICE SPACE. The only scene I could relate to was the opening one where the main character enters his office and gets a static electricity zap from the metal door handle. That happened to me every goddamn time I opened a filing cabinet. I felt his dreaded anticipation and pain. The solution? Knock on the handle before pulling on it. Trust me, it works. You look like a nut banging, but it works.

Also, the main character (I can’t even remember his friggin’ name) was too wussy. The writer/director of OFFICE SPACE created BEAVIS & BUTT-HEAD and KING OF THE HILL. KOTH is one of my favorite TV shows, now and possibly ever. But the same low-key approach to humor didn’t translate well to live-action. I wanted to love this movie, but I couldn’t get into it. There were some funny bits, but overall I can’t give the flick a glowing recommendation.

Maybe if I totally hate my next job, I can see OFFICE SPACE again and appreciate it more. But I hope that doesn’t happen. It would be nice if I totally luck out again and find something I enjoy again.