"Office Space" was released in the early weeks of 1999 with little fanfare and not much advertising. The movie was quickly bumped out of theaters and ended up with a gross of a little over $10m. The movie then became an enormous hit on DVD, and the cult following the film has attracted has only grown since.
Directed by Mike Judge ("Beavis and Butthead"), "Space" stars Ron Livington as Peter, a worker at a generic tech company as software engineers. He's introduced in the middle of morning traffic, veering between lanes to try and get ahead, but only finding himself still locked in the bumper-to-bumper traffic. Looking over to the side of the road, he spots an old man with a walker who looks like he's getting to his destination faster than Peter is. Once he arrives at work, he is told by three different managers that he forgot to add the new cover letter to his report.
Deeply dismayed with his current employment ("I was sitting in my cubicle today and realized that every single day of my life has worse than the day before it, so every single day that you see me is on the worst day of my life."), he eventually agrees to see an occupational therapist recommended by his irritable girlfriend. When the therapist has a heart attack in the middle of the treatment, Peter has something of a "break" - he decides to persue his dreams of doing nothing ("I did absolutely nothing, and it was everything I thought it could be.") He sleeps late, doesn't come in on weekends if he's asked, and tries to romance the waitress (Jennifer Aniston) at the chain restaurant next door. He's not going to quit - he's just going to essentially stop going.
Meanwhile, "consultants" have been brought in, and everyone knows they're there to decide who stays and who goes. Peter, who strolls in without a care, ends up managing to impress them enough not only to not fire him, but to actually give him a promotion. Despite that, Peter and friends Michael (David Herman), and Samir (Ajay Naidu) decide to go ahead with a plan to take money from the company through a program that will take off little bits of change from every transaction. Needless to say, it doesn't go according to plan.
Full of quotable lines and hilarious moments, "Office Space" gets all the details right and the laughs do often operate on the fact that almost everyone finds themselves at a job like this at one time or another (I once worked at an office doing data entry and no one really told me what to do. While I worked there for an entire Summer, I didn't find out until the last day that I had been doing an aspect of the job wrong for months. Every day, every one went to their cubicle and there was barely any communication.) However, the film's spin on office culture is funny and sharply realized, with "we all have wanted to it at one time or another" moments like when the three take the troublesome printer out behind the office and destroy it. The film's use of rap music is also nothing short of priceless.
The performances are terrific, as well. Gary Cole's boss is a classic character, droning out every word of every sentence and offering a flat, insincere thanks when he snares someone to come in to work additional hours on the weekend. Livington is a great "everyguy", and Naidu and Herman are superb as his co-workers. Aniston makes something out of a pretty minimal part, and convincingly plays an average girl tired of having to wear "flair" on her uniform at the restaurant. Finally, Stephen Root ("Newsradio") is amusing as quiet, mumbling worker Milton (the film is based on Judge's "Milton" animated shorts).
"Office Space" is shot in a pretty minimalist way by Judge (his first live-action effort), but the characters and dialogue work supremely well and absolutely carry the movie.
VIDEO: "Office Space" is presented by Fox in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen (the previous DVD edition was non-anamorphic), "Office Space" still isn't the strongest movie visually, but the picture quality is noticably better this time around. Sharpness and detail are improved, as the picture appeared consistently more detailed and crisp this time around.
Additionally, the picture looks smoother and more "film like" here, with no edge enhancement, pixelation or shimmering. There are some moments where some minor specks are spotted on the print, but these are pretty minor and not distracting. Colors appeared somewhat richer here, and black level looked solid. Overall, while the prior release didn't look too bad, I was pleased to see that this new transfer does certainly look better.
SOUND: "Office Space" is presented in Dolby Digital 5.1. This is the same audio presentation as the prior release. Largely a "comedy"-style presentation, the majority of the audio comes from the front speakers, with the surrounds only providing minimal reinforcement. The rap songs on the soundtrack deliver some solid bass, but otherwise this is a fairly straightforward, dialogue-driven audio presentation.
EXTRAS: "Out of the Office" is a nearly 30-minute "look back" documentary that has Judge and the cast talking about their thoughts on the film, their characters and working on the film. It's only in the last quarter of the documentary that we learn more about things like a potential PG-13 rating, the popular Swingline stapler, and the reaction to the movie. The featurette does have some fun interviews with the cast and a few insights, but there's a lot of time spent on praising each other and quite a few movie clips added in. Some outtakes from John C. McGinley are also added in during his segment, and are quite funny.
Also offered here are eight deleted scenes presented in rough form, with no optional commentary. Some of the scenes are quite funny, and I thought a couple should have been included in the movie. There's also the trailer, and some additional DVD-ROM content (audio clips, an interactive game, wallpaper, screensaver and more.)
Final Thoughts: "Office Space" remains a smart and hilarious office comedy, with great performances and memorable characters and dialogue. Fox's new Special Edition doesn't offer much in the way of supplements (a commentary from Judge or the cast would have been nice), but image quality does get a boost here.