1999; Rated R; 89 Minutes
Ron Livingston: Peter Gibbons
Jennifer Aniston: Joanne
David Herman: Michael Bolton
Ajay Naidu: Samir
Diedrich Bader: Lawrence
Stephen Root: Milton
Produced by Daniel
Rappaport, Guy Riedel and Michael Kotenburg; Directed
and screenwritten by Mike Judge
by DAVID KEYES
is the enemy. It's also a qualification.
Peter Gibbons, office life is concentrated on these two
constantly required factors; as long as he remains pleasant
and fetching, his employers remain happy yet detached from
ordinary human feeling. All of this can be taken the wrong
way, however, if one goes into "Office Space" not knowing
what it's actually about. It is a satire, yes, but not in
the usual witty ways. It conveys evil, selfishness, greediness
and other things to help arrange a dank portrait of office
culture and all of its negative aspects. One could almost
call it a mild dark comedy, for it looks nice and screwball
like, but has hidden agendas which are much more gloomy.
It's one of those few movies that would have been about
twenty times better if it had allowed itself to retain humor
on the outside and still used its thematic elements on the
inside. The movie's comedy foreground is missing; there
are few scenes that deserve cracked smiles, much less uproarious
laughter. Seeing it after our nations best critics gave
it glowing reviews, I find that it is not funny, not well
rounded, and overall not well staged. Even then, it still
gets effective performances and mild satirical amusement.
that a distraction? Naturally. That was basically the case
with last year's severely overrated "Bulworth." The satire
and ambition are all intact, but the sense of humor is either
lame, dead, or absolutely offensive. I classify these movies
either bad or good (not mixed) because the idea and the
humor are a package deal, hand-in-hand. You take one of
them away, and what does the other have to live for? I liked
the idea "Bulworth" was trying to achieve, but gave it the
absolutely zero star rating because its funny-bone crumbled
under the weight of moral repugnance, and made the movie
into a series of shameless situations that went on and on
until you felt nausious. While "Office Space" never gets
that bad, it doesn't stray far from being kind of sickening.
Perhaps that's because the film was made by a funny man,
named Mike Judge.
should know him. After all, who else would be smart enough
to create the animated morons named Beavis and Butthead?
Just two-and-a-half years ago, their movie, "Do America,"
was on my ten best list of 1996. This year, "Office Space"
might have had the potential to do so, if Judge had not
been so concerned on capturing the atmosphere of office
work and leaned a little toward what he's really good at
film's best scenes are more towards the beginning, because
they seem to spawn a more unique sense of humor; it's the
type that works, too. In the first, a car driver is exasperated
by switching lanes in a traffic jam, only to be disappointed
when the lane right beside him begins moving. This is hilarious
and extremely accurate to Judge's vision. More scenes follow,
and then are stretched apart for the duration of the last
half of the film, in which boredom begins to set in and
take over any appreciation we might have felt for the concept.
There is, for starters, a character named Michael Bolton,
who spends the movie irritating over the same problem; "why
should I change my name when Michael Bolton, the singer,
is the one who sucks?"
here is pretty much mixed in the way it approaches the fascinating
satirical treatment. Yes, some of it is funny, but most
of it is what you call part of a 'dead-zone.' To show that
I'm not entirely ruthless, like I was with Beatty's "Bulworth,"
I am giving Judge's film one star, instead of what it might
have gotten for being totally boring: a half star or even
zero stars. Sometimes it's necessary to downgrade these
types of movies to make a point about the satire's influencing
the humor. If it's not funny, then is the satire meant to
be something else? If so, shouldn't the filmmakers tell
1999, David Keyes, Cinemaphile.org.
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