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Office Space (1999)

Office Space was written and directed by Mike Judge. Satirizing work life in a typical mid-to-late-1990s software company, it focuses on a handful of individuals fed up with their jobs.  The film’s sympathetic depiction of ordinary IT workers garnered a cult following within that field, but also addresses themes familiar to white collar employees and the workforce in general. Office Space is based on Judge’s Milton cartoon series. It was his first foray into live action film and second full-length motion picture release.

office-space-break-freePeter Gibbons (Ron Livingston), a disgruntled programmer at Initech, spends his days “staring at his desk” instead of actually working. His co-workers include Samir Nagheenanajar (Ajay Naidu), who is annoyed by the fact that nobody can pronounce his last name correctly; Michael Bolton (David Herman), who loathes having the same name as the famous singer, whom he hates; and Milton Waddams (Stephen Root), a meek, fixated collator who constantly mumbles to himself. Milton had actually been laid off years earlier, though he was never informed and, due to a payroll computer glitch, continues to receive regular paychecks.

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All four are repeatedly mistreated by management, especially Initech’s smarmy, callous vice president, Bill Lumbergh (Gary Cole). The staff are further agitated by the arrival of two consultants, Bob Slydell (John C. McGinley) and Bob Porter (Paul Willson), who are brought in to help the company through downsizing and outsourcing.

Peter’s girlfriend Anne (Alexandra Wentworth) convinces him to attend an ‘occupational hypnotherapy’ session, but the therapist, Dr. Swanson, dies of a heart attack right after hypnotizing Peter. The newly relaxed Peter wakes up the next morning and ignores continued calls from Anne (who angrily leaves him and admits she’s been cheating, confirming his friends’ suspicions) and Lumbergh (who was expecting Peter to work over the weekend). The following work day, Peter decides to skip work and asks Joanna (Jennifer Aniston), a waitress at Chotchkie’s (a parody of T.G.I. Friday’s), out to lunch. Joanna shares Peter’s loathing of idiotic management and love of the television program Kung Fu.

When Peter finally shows up at work, he disregards Initech’s dress code, takes Lumbergh’s reserved parking spot, and refuses to follow Lumbergh’s directions. He also removes items that annoy him, such as a door handle that repeatedly shocked him and a cubicle wall that blocks his view out the window. The consultants, however, decide to promote him because of the positive impression he makes on them with his bluntness about the office’s problems. Peter then learns that Michael and Samir’s jobs will be eliminated, and the trio decide to get even by infecting Initech’s accounting system with a computer virus designed to divert fractions of pennies into a bank account they control.They believe the scheme will succeed because the amounts are too small for Initech to notice, while over time they will receive a substantial amount of money. On Michael and Samir’s last day at Initech, Peter takes one last item: a frequently-malfunctioning printer, which the three smash to pieces in a field…

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