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Office Space

Fox // R // February 3, 2009
List Price: $34.98 [Buy now and save at Amazon]

Review by John Sinnott | posted February 13, 2009 | E-mail the Author
The Movie:
"So I was sitting in my cubicle today, and I realized, ever since I started working, every single day of my life has been worse than the day before it. So that means that every single day that you see me, that's on the worst day of my life." - Peter Gibbons

It is the textbook example of a cult film; one that does horrible at the box office and then gains a legion of die-hard fans once it hits DVD (or video or the midnight movie circuit.)  Mike Judge's Office Space came and went so quickly it barely broke even during its theatrical release.  Once it hit DVD however, word got around this marvelous send up of dead-end jobs and office bureaucracy gained a new lease on life.  Now you'd be hard put to find anyone who hasn't seen the movie.  Happily fans of the film didn't have to wait long for a high definition release.  Fox has put the movie out on Blu-ray, ported over all of the Special Edition extras, and included a few new ones.
Peter Gibbons (Ron Livingston) is a low level office employee at Initech, a soulless corporation much like many in the real world.  Peter's life seems to be going nowhere and fast.  He hates his job, his girlfriend is cheating on him, and the walls of his apartment are so thin his neighbor can hear everything he's doing.  One Friday afternoon he discovers he has to work all day Saturday and to make matters worse, he gets roped in to seeing a hypnotherapist that evening.  At the group session, Peter reluctantly lets the hypnotist put him under and is instructed to enter a state of total bliss.  Peter finally is able to relax, but the doctor dies of a heart attack before he can bring him out.

Still totally relaxed, Peter blows off work on Saturday, and shows up late on Monday.  The office is buzzing with worry because a set of efficiency experts have been called in and layoffs are eminent.  While everyone else panics, especially Peter's best friends Samir (Ajay Naidu) and Michael (David Herman), he slips out to an early lunch and for the first time has the nerve to talk to the beautiful waitress he's lusted after for years, Joanna (Jennifer Aniston), and convinces her to come over to his place to watch "Kung Fu" that evening. 
Going back to work Peter cuts off his interview with the efficiency consultants early "Listen, I'm gonna go. It's been really nice talking to both of you guys" only to discover that it might have been the best course of action.  When he discovers that Samir and Michael have been laid off however, the trio comes up with a scheme to get back at the company.  One that goes horribly, and hilariously, wrong.
Parody is hard to do well, but this movie hits the mark with laser accuracy.  From several higher-up reminding Peter to use the new covers for the TPS reports to the cheerful secretary who accuses anyone that's grumpy at the beginning of the week of having "a case of the Mondays" the script hilariously skewers the overly bureaucratic office and the people work there.  Mike Judge's script does go for some cheap punches (being aggravated at the office copier for example) but it does so with such a 'take no prisoners' attitude that it's easy to overlook and just laugh along with the film.   

The cool and hip chain restaurant where Joanna works is just as just as accurately skewered as the work place.  The fact that the wait-staff have to 'personalize' their uniforms to show their individuality with corporate provided buttons or "flair" is just as outrageous as the appetizers with trendy names that are constantly being pushed on customers.  "Can I get you gentlemen something to nibble on? Some Pizza Shooters, Shrimp Poppers, or Extreme Fajitas?"
Ron Livingston does a great job in the lead role.  He could have easily delivered his lines in a Jackie Gleason fashion, ranting and raving about the idiocy that surrounds him.  The laid back attitude he gives Peter however works wonderfully and is a constant source of comedy.  Jennifer Aniston is actually good in her part too, but Stephen Root steals every scene he's in playing Milton, a socially maladjusted man who mumbles a lot.  Bringing belly laughs with every scene he's in, Root's performance is the icing on the cake.
 Blu-ray Disc:

Fox presents this classic film with its original 1.85:1 aspect ratio and a nice looking MPEG-4 AVC 1080p encode.  The film has never been eye candy, but this HD disc does improve on the SD DVD with brighter more solid colors and an enhanced level of detail.  Compared to other Blu-ray discs this one looks fine but isn't in the top tier.  The image rarely pops like the best Blu-rays do, but that's largely because of the flat, sterile look of the offices that the DP was undoubtedly going for. 
On the digital side things look very good.  There isn't any mosquito noise or aliasing, and only some minor banding is a couple of scenes that most people won't notice.  When all is said and done, this is a solid looking disc.
The movie comes with a 5.1 DTS-HD soundtrack that does the job well.  This is a dialog based comedy and so the movie never shows off the audio format's potential.  There is a scene or two backed by heavy rap music and that sounds strong and tight, but besides that there really isn't anything here to show off your system.
Most of the extras from the SE "with Flair!" DVD are included on this Blu-ray.  There's a nice talk with Mike Judge that runs 25 minutes where he talks about the origin of the film and how Milton was based on someone he briefly worked with.  There are also 8 deleted scenes that run about 5 minutes, and a theatrical trailer. 
Some new bonus items are presented for the first time on this disc, but none of them are too exciting.  There's a new pop-up trivia track, "Post-it Pandemonium" which is mildly interesting and the four games, none of which could be considered fun.
Final Thoughts:
One of the classic films from the late 90's, Mike Judge's merciless send up of office life is a must-see.  The film looks very good here and sounds just fine.  The new extras are mainly lame, but the featurette ported from the SD DVD is excellent.  If you don't have a copy of this already, buying this Blu-ray is Highly Recommended.  If you have the earlier SE edition, it's a tougher call.  The image is a definite improvement, but it's not the difference between night and day.
Note: The images in this review are not from the Blu-ray disc and do not necessarily represent the image quality on the disc.
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Highly Recommended

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