Turn Back the Clock
Distributed by: 20th Century Fox
Reviewed by Melissa Minners
Once again, it’s time to Turn Back the Clock and reminisce about a movie that held special meaning in our hearts…that depicted a part of our lives we would like to forget…a movie that inspired us to hope for freedom from the monotonous life of a cubicle imprisoned employee. It is time to discuss a film that everyone in the modern day working society can relate to - Office Space.
I was first turned on to Office Space by my brother-in-law, who insisted that I had to see this film. Since then, I have watched the movie about six times and have laughed my ass off each time. Written and directed by Mike Judge, Office Space focuses a group of individuals working at a software firm who have become fed up with their jobs.
Peter Gibbons (Ron Livingston) is a computer programmer working at Intech. His primary function is to reprogram bank software to prevent the predicted Y2K disaster. Unfortunately, the disgruntled program has little ambition and even less encouragement to perform his assigned duties. Hoping to get him out of his funk, his cheating girlfriend, Anne (Alexandra Wentworth) suggests Peter attend an occupational hypnotherapy session. As luck would have it, the hypnotherapist dies of a heart attack before he can fully bring Peter out of a state of complete relaxation.
Peter is now a new man. Vowing never to work again, Peter heads over to a local restaurant and asks his waitress, Joanne (Jennifer Aniston), out on a date. The two share a common interest - loathing for incompetent management. Returning to Intech to remove his personal possessions from his hated cubicle, Peter finds himself in an interview with two consultants charged with cutting expenses in the company through downsizing. After the interview, he is shocked to discover that he has been promoted while his two friends, Michael Bolton (David Herman) and Samir Nagheenanajar (Ajay Naidu), have been slated for layoffs.
United by their loathing of a company that shows little respect for its workers and promotes selfish, egotistical and downright mean individuals like their boss, Bill Lumbergh (Gary Cole), Peter, Michael and Samir devise a way to get back at the company. But will their plan backfire and land them in jail?
This movie is an ode to any worker who has been mistreated and manhandled by their company and its administration. Peter is somewhat of a hero to the workforce, parking in the boss’ spot, tearing down his cubicle and striking back at upper management. The reason this film is so funny is because we can all relate to what these characters are going through. We have all been the victim of downsizing used as a cost-cutting maneuver to boost the profits of the upper management. We have all known a cocky, smarmy and downright loathsome individual who has somehow found his way into middle management and gets his jollies from making the lives of his underlings a living hell. We all know a quiet and oft mistreated employee who will someday go postal at work.
In fact, the biggest hero and greatest scene stealer of all is Milton Waddams (Stephen Root), a character from Mike Judge’s animated shorts that first appeared on Saturday Night Live. Milton is a meek employee who is ridiculed, belittled and trod upon every workday. Unable to stand up for himself, Milton mumbles his displeasures and these mumblings, if you catch them, are downright hilarious. His obsession with his red Swingline stapler has inspired the catchphrase of this film, “Excuse me, I believe you have my stapler…” Anyone who has ever wondered how an employee can turn on his co-workers and murder them must watch this movie. Milton epitomizes the overly abused and highly stressed worker who suddenly snaps and decides to take out anyone who has ever wronged him in life.
My brother-in-law was right, Office Space ranks up there with some of the greatest movies of all time. Not because the plot was anything special, the writing was incredible or the acting was amazing, but simply because America at large can relate to the characters in the film and know exactly what they are going through. That is why Office Space has received such a cult following a decade after the film first aired and that is why it will continue to garner such rave reviews from the downtrodden workforces of the world.