[Screen It]


(1999) (Ron Livingston, Jennifer Aniston) (R)

Blood/Gore Disrespectful/
Bad Attitude
Tense Scenes
Moderate Minor Moderate None None
Moderate None Minor Extreme Extreme
Smoking Tense Family
Topics To
Talk About
Heavy None None Mild Mild

Comedy: Suddenly infused with a hypnotically induced nonchalant attitude toward the job he hates, a computer programmer sets out to have some fun in his life while letting everyone know how he feels about working.
Peter Gibbons (RON LIVINGSTON) is a computer programmer for the INITECH corporation where he works on the Y2K problem. He's not a happy man, however, as he hates the day to day drudgery of his cubicle job and correctly believes that his girlfriend is cheating on him.

His fellow co-workers -- Michael Bolton (DAVID HERMAN) who hates having the same name as the popular singer, Samir (AJAY NAIDU), an immigrant who still wants to live the American dream, and Milton (STEPHEN ROOT), the older office nerd with coke-bottle thick glasses -- aren't much happier. It seems that their smarmy boss, vice-president Bill Lumbergh (GARY COLE), has brought in some efficiency experts (JOHN C. McGINLEY and PAUL WILSON) who plan to trim much of INITECH's salaried fat.

Things change, however, when Peter visits an occupational hypno-therapist who unexpectedly leaves the disgruntled worker stuck in the middle of a hypnotic state. Now completely apathetic toward his job and working in general, Peter forgoes work in favor of pursuing Joanna (JENNIFER ANISTON), a waitress at a nearby restaurant who's facing her own work-related difficulties.

As a romance blossoms between the two, Peter sets out to get his revenge on Lumbergh and INITECH, a plot that involves his co-workers and eventually gets all of them into deep trouble.

Jennifer Aniston (from TV's "Friends") may draw some of her fans, but it's doubtful this film will be attractive to most kids.
For language and brief sexuality.
  • RON LIVINGSTON plays a disgruntled worker who, after being left in an uncompleted hypnotic state, suddenly doesn't show up for work and could care less about the repercussions. He also drinks some, cusses a bit, and apparently sleeps with Joanna while plotting to skim money from the company for which he works (all played for laughs).
  • JENNIFER ANISTON plays a similarly disgruntled waitress who apparently sleeps with Peter (and we later learn that she also has a reputation for sleeping around with other men).
  • DAVID HERMAN plays Peter's co-worker who hates his name (Michael Bolton) and cusses quite a bit. He also conspires to help Peter skim money from the corporation.
  • AJAY NAIDU is another co-worker who's also in on the money skimming plan and cusses some.
  • GARY COLE plays their irritatingly smarmy boss who only cares about the corporation and not its employees.


    OUR TAKE: 5 out of 10
    While Dilbert has finally made his way onto TV as an appropriately animated cartoon character, and the title character of "The Drew Carey Show" is obviously somewhat based on him, 20th Century Fox's release of "Office Space" borrows the spirit of that comic strip and its humorous look at everything related to office work and brings both to the big screen.

    Although many films and TV shows have dealt with office politics through the years ("Working Girl," "Working") and others have played off the mechanical drudgery of "worker bee" employment and its effects on the worker ("Falling Down," "Joe Versus the Volcano," "Brazil"), the increasing depersonalization of the corporate world and its dehumanizing effects on the employees during the 1990's makes films such as this one that much more timely and easy to identify with.

    Of course upon hearing that this film is helmed by the creative force behind "Beavis and Butt- head," one might not expect more than a sophomoric look at such material. Yet, much to the surprise of this reviewer and probably anyone older than high school or college age, writer/director Mike Judge (who also created TV's "King of the Hill" and penned the animated "Milton" shorts from which this picture is adapted) actually does a decent job of handling the material in his first live-action feature.

    That's not to say that it's a refined comedy by any means, and bits of the sophomoric touch do occasionally appear. Nonetheless, with a far-fetched but humorous premise of a disgruntled worker being left midstream in a hypnotically induced but unfinished nonchalant state, the film starts off with an amusing bang and features some funny observational bits regarding labor in a corporate cubicle.

    Unfortunately, and despite some subsequently humorous moments, Judge stretches the film's skit- like concept to its limit trying to fill the ninety-some minute runtime. As such, the picture never quite lives up to the preset humorous potential introduced at the beginning and simply runs out of steam while meandering through what becomes a less than inspired comedy caper.

    Before that, however, the film starts with a humorous opening that will ring true to anyone who deals with chronically congested commuting. It then immediately proceeds into some funny observational bits about working in the corporate world, and in particular, the office cubicle, and contains a fun scene where Peter tries to avoid his boss at the end of the day while impatiently waiting for his computer to shut down.

    There's also a hilarious parody of an "execution" straight from an urban gangster film or music video -- albeit with a malfunctioning fax machine as the "victim." Amusing, but less successful bits include a character's dismayed reaction to having the same name as singer Michael Bolton, and a mumbling older nerd worker who's constantly moved around the office to the point of ending up in the basement.

    The main plot element of Peter's newfound "work attitude" -- or more accurately, his attitude toward work -- offers some funny moments (such as his interview with several bean counters looking for any reason to eliminate his position), but unfortunately isn't always consistent throughout the production. He often waivers between indifferent confidence and cautious uncertainty and that discrepancy ruins the overall intended effect.

    The performance by Ron Livingston ("Swingers"), however, is right on the mark and reminds one of a younger Tom Hanks (such as in "Joe Versus the Volcano"). Charming, funny, and perfectly playing the indifference (when in that mode), Livingston delivers a winning take as the disgruntled employee.

    Not as good -- simply because her part is extremely underwritten and present merely as a romantic character -- is Jennifer Aniston (TV's "Friends," "The Object of My Affection") as the similarly disgruntled employee. Her employment dilemma -- having to meet a costume quota of "flair" at the restaurant where she works -- isn't as interesting or intriguing simply because she could easily find another waitress job, thus making what's supposed to be a story parallel come off as a weak comparison.

    Supporting performers, David Herman, Ajay Naidu, Stephen Root and Diedrich Bader (as Peter's next door neighbor) are decent, but certainly not outstanding, although Gary Cole (who did a fabulous job emulating Robert Reed as Mike Brady in the "Brady Bunch" movies) is quite good as the smarmy boss whose sole responsibility seems to be walking around with his coffee mug and boring his employees.

    Funny but rarely hilarious and never as good nor clever as it could and should have been, the film should still manage to connect with those familiar with life inside an office cubicle. Yet with its stretched-thin plot, a later tendency to abandon the observational humor for a weaker crime caper, and something of a too cautious approach that prevents it from ever getting properly outrageous enough, the film fails to completely "bring home the bacon."

    With only Jennifer Aniston as the film's lone marque name (and only in a small, supporting role), the box office potential seems limited, thus nearly ensuring that the picture will probably be quickly demoted to the video shelves. As such, we give "Office Space" a 5 out of 10.

    The following is a brief summary of the content found in this R-rated film. Profanity is extreme with more than 30 "f" words, as well as other words and "colorful" phrases being used, with many of them appearing in the rap and gangster rap songs that play during the film.

    A briefly seen sexual encounter occurs that somewhat shows and otherwise implies movement and is played for laughs, while a bare-breasted woman is briefly seen on a TV program. Some other sexually related talk also occurs. The main character develops a nonchalant attitude toward work that is played for laughs, and he and others drink beer or other alcohol in several scenes.

    A failed suicide attempt is shown (using a running car in a closed garage and obviously played for laughs), a building burns to the ground (somewhat suggesting that an employee started it) and an office machine takes a literal beating.

    Beyond all of that, the remaining categories have little or nothing in the way of major objectionable content. As usual, however, should you still be concerned with the film's appropriateness for yourself or anyone else in your home, you may want to take a closer look at the content that's been listed.

  • Peter and his neighbor drink beer.
  • Peter and Joanna have beer.
  • Peter and Michael have beer, and later we see them in a bar where Michael has a beer and Peter a martini (with others also drinking in the background).
  • Michael has a beer.
  • It's mentioned that the driver of a truck that crashes into a co-worker was drunk.
  • The guys drink beer while celebrating their "murder" of an irritatingly faulty fax machine.
  • People have drinks and beers at a party (including Peter).
  • Needing to learn about money laundering, the guys question whether they know any drug dealers and one mentions that his cousin is a "coke-head." A magazine salesman then comes to the door and says that he used to be addicted to crack (but we learn that was a lie).
  • Milton has a tropical drink.
  • We see Peter cleaning a fish at his desk (and see him cut the fish open and pull out the bloody guts and plop them on the desk).
  • Obviously Peter has both for having a nonchalant/apathetic approach toward work (although much of that's hypnotically induced) and for plotting to skim money from the corporation (his co- workers also have the same for joining his plot).
  • Several characters refer to women as "chicks."
  • Some viewers may not appreciate the film playing up a person's heart attack, nor a suicide attempt for laughs.
  • Although we don't see any of it, Peter's girlfriend admits that she's been cheating on him.
  • Both Peter and Joanna's bosses have both toward their employees (in a boss-like fashion).
  • Peter drills Joanna for sleeping with another man (not for having had sex, but having had sex with a particular man).
  • None.
  • None, although some gangster rap songs apparently contained references to them.
  • Phrases: "F*cking A," "Holy sh*t," "Piece of sh*t," "Deep sh*t," "Bitches" and "Bitch" (the latter being a male prisoner reference), "No talent ass clown," "Sucks," "Pissed off," "Pissed," "Screwed" (nonsexual), "Scumbags," "Chicks" (women)," "Geez," "I'm talking out of my ass," "Fudge packer," "Bastard," "Eat my ass," "Shut up" and "Corn hole" (meaning anus).
  • Some kids may want to adopt Peter's nonchalant approach to work (after seeing him receive laughs for doing so).
  • We see that a despondent co-worker tried to kill himself by sitting in his running car in a closed garage.
  • Joanna gives "the finger" to her boss, and later her former co-worker does the same to her and Peter. In the end credits, Michael gives someone "the finger."
  • None.
  • A few instances of comically playful tense music occur during the film.
  • The film contains several rap and gangster rap songs that include extreme uses of profanity (especially "motherf*cker"), the words "nigger" and "bitches" and some references to guns, pimping and sexual matters, and one song is titled, "Take this job and shove it." Since some of the songs also contained lyrics that couldn't be understood, other objectionable content may be present.
  • At least 32 "f" words (18 used with "mother" in rap songs, 4 used sexually), 26 "s" words, 4 slang terms for female genitals ("p*ssy"), what sounded like 1 possible slang term for male genitals ("c*ck"), 20 asses (4 used with "hole"), 8 damns, 5 hells, 3 S.O.B.'s (with another incomplete one), and 4 uses of "G-damn" and 1 use each of "Swear to God," "Oh my God," "My God" and "Oh God" as exclamations.
  • After briefly seeing some women in skimpy bathing suits on TV, Peter's neighbor changes the channel to show him a bare-breasted woman (who we see for several seconds) during a breast examination program/piece.
  • When asked what he would do if he had one million dollars, Peter's neighbor says that he'd do "two chicks at the same time." The two briefly comment on that, but never get any more explicit.
  • We see Peter and Joanna together on his bed watching TV, and later see her wearing just a long shirt (both implying that they spent the night together on several occasions).
  • Peter tries to convince Samir that prison wouldn't be so bad because of the conjugal visits, but Michael comments that he's a free man and hasn't had such a visit in six months. To clarify the matter, Samir asks "In these conjugal visits, you can have sex with women?" and Peter acknowledges that.
  • A man tells Peter that he's going to show a woman his "oh" face and then simulates having sex with a woman and repeatedly saying "oh" in a sexual manner.
  • Hearing that Peter is seeing Joanna, another man tells him to make sure he wears a rubber because she "gets around" and that "Lumbergh f*cked her" (which she later confirms).
  • Peter has a dream where he sees his boss having sex with Joanna (we only see a sweaty Lumbergh from mid-torso up, a woman's leg up on his shoulder and some implied movement but no direct contact is seen -- all played for laughs).
  • Seeing Peter and Joanna kissing in the parking lot, her former co-worker tells the two to "get a room."
  • A man comments on having someone "ride on the old bone roller coaster."
  • None.
  • None.
  • Working in a corporate environment and the downsizing and dehumanizing effects workers must often endure.
  • Peter's indifferent attitude toward work and his attempt at skimming money from the corporation.
  • We see that a despondent co-worker tried to kill himself by sitting in his running car in a garage (and when he finally backs out of the garage, he's hit by a speeding vehicle that injures him -- all played for laughs).
  • In a gangster rap movie/music video parody, Peter and his co-workers kick and bash a faulty fax machine until it's nothing but smashed pieces.
  • A building burns to the ground, and while it's suggested that it was deliberately set, there's no positive proof either way.

  • Reviewed February 16, 1999 / Posted on February 19, 1999

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