My friend and budding sports journalist big Al (Alistair Watt on his birth certificate) watched a movie recently and felt compelled to pen a review. He reads the blog with religious regularity, and occasionally throws in a comment, so I felt it appropriate to give it an airing here…… Over to you Al.
Liam Gallagher is not renowned for being a merchant of profound wisdom. However, he put it quite beautifully in the Oasis anthem ‘Cigarettes and Alcohol’ when he posed the question ‘Is it worth the aggravation, to find yourself a job, when there’s nothing worth working for?’. If you haven’t faced this dilemma before, you’re either lucky or brain-dead.
It was after yet another day of grim monotony at the insurance company for which I work, that I purchased Mike Judge’s ‘Office Space’ for 3 Scottish pounds. And, perhaps with the exception of the sausage supper I devoured barely an hour ago, it was the best 3 quid I’ve ever spent.
The film revolves around the day-to-day frustrations of Peter Gibbons (played by Ron Livingston), a reluctant employee of Initech corporation, a soulless technology company in Texas. From the very beginning the tone is set with Gibbons’ agonisingly slow commute to work followed by a dressing down from his obnoxious cretin of a boss, Bill Lumbergh (played by the excellent Gary Cole).
Lumbergh, a character derived from David Van Driessen in Judge’s more famous animated series ’Beavis and Butthead’, is a magnificent portrayal of the arsehole boss. Full of empty pleasantries and an arrogant swagger typical of certain types found in middle management.
The resentment that Lumbergh, and the general tedium of working for Initech, generates in the workforce is hilariously displayed by leading character Gibbons and his two colleagues Samir Nagheenanajar (Ajay Naidu) and Michael Bolton (David Herman). Samir is furious that no-one can pronounce his name while Michael cannot bear having the same name as a famous 80’s singer.
Eventually, the trio embark on a plot to steal money from the company after Samir and Michael find out they are to be fired. But the aggression that working in a crap job can build up is best delivered in this scene where the disgruntled threesome take it out on a dodgy printer.
However, Office Space’s main strength is its wealth of other brilliant characters. Joanna (played by Jennifer Aniston) is a dippy Texan waitress who becomes the girlfriend of Gibbons, after they discover they share a love for kung-fu. Aniston’s role is brief but very enjoyable. The stressed out, paranoid Tom Smykowski (Richard Riehle) and mumbling Milton Waddams (Stephen Root) help to humourously complete the bleak picture of office life while Gibbons’ straight-talking neighbour Lawrence (Diedrich Bader) is equally funny. But my personal favourite, or favourites, are the two Bobs (played by Paul Willson and John C. McGinley) who are brought in to Initech to ’clear the decks’ of any deadwood. This scene sees the duo name and shame the soon to be sacked employees.
To conclude, Office Space is something of a hidden gem. Its comical take on the mediocrity often encountered in modern working life will strike a chord with anyone who has worked in a job they hate. And even for those who haven’t been so unfortunate, it’s a damn good watch.