Though it was a comedy, it accurately captured everything we hated about white-collar work in corporate modern America. Here’s everything you need to know about the film Office Space. Mike Judge creates a series of short animations called Milton. The animations aired on the MTV show Liquid Television and the Comedy Central show Night After Night with Allan Havey in 1991 and later appeared on Saturday Night Live during the 1993-94 season. Judge was surprised when Peter Chernin from 20th Century Fox approached him and said he wanted to turn those Milton shorts into a full-feature, live action film. Judge replied “You don’t want to know what he does at home after work.” But soon Judge, who used to be a physicist, had lots of ideas of how to turn those shorts into a film. He knew well the drudgery of office life. Part of what influenced his writing of the first draft of the screenplay was a horrible job he used to actually have where he alphabetized purchase orders for 8 hours a day for a period of weeks. He couldn’t even daydream on that job, for if he did he’d lose his place. Judge was also inspired by a trend he noticed. “It seems like every city now has these identical office parks with identical adjoining chain restaurants,” he later said in an interview. “There were a lot of people who wanted me to set this movie in Wall Street, or like the movie Brazil, but I wanted it very unglamourous, the kind of bleak work situation like I was in.” Judge finished the screenplay in 1997. Even though 20th Century Fox Film Group President Tom Rothman called it “the most brilliant workplace satire I’d ever read,” Judge wasn’t happy with the ending, but they ended up keeping it. 20th Century Fox wanted some big stars in the film, originally considering Matt Damon or Ben Affleck after the recent breakout film Good Will Hunting. However, after Ron Livingston auditioned for the part of the main character, Peter Gibbons, Judge thought he would be perfect. While Kate Hudson was also considered, they gave Jennifer Aniston the role of Joanna. Aniston, who was a superstar due to being in the sitcom Friends, was kind of a big name for a rather small part in the film. However, Aniston wasn’t getting as much film work as she liked and actually knew someone starring in the film from high school, so she agreed to take the part. The person Aniston knew from high school, who was kind of a high school crush, was this guy. Michael Bolton. No, I mean he played the role of Michael Bolton. Yeah, that guy. David Herman. Herman was one person Judge wanted in the film from the get go. Funny story about how Herman joined the cast. Since he was locked into a contract with MADtv that prevented him from seeking other projects at the time, Herman intentionally got fired. He got out of the MADtv contract by screaming all of his lines at a table reading. As they fired him, they told him he’d never find work in Hollywood ever again. They cast Ajay Naidu as Samir. (clips of people mispronouncing Samir’s last name) Naidu is Indian American, but the character in the film is from Jordan, so he had to work with a dialect coach to get the accent down. After Gary Cole auditioned for the role of Lumbergh, Judge later said he was perfect for the role. “He made the character 10 times funnier.” John C. McGinley actually had auditioned to be Lumbergh but got the role of Bob Slydell instead. While Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson both auditioned, Diedrich Bader got the part of Peter’s memorable neighbor, Lawrence. “Yeah, I’m doing the drywall up there at the new McDonald’s.” Oh yeah, and Milton? It was hard for Judge to fill that role, but ultimately he went with Stephen Root. Yep, that’s actually Stephen Root. Judge began filming in Austin, Texas on May 4, 1998. Since he was not too comfortable with live action stuff- remember he specialized in animation stuff like Beavis and Butthead and King of the Hill, he relied on the film’s director of photography, Tim Suhrstedt, to guide the cinematography. Judge wanted the setting of Initech to be as realistic and as “oppressive” as possible. Much care was invested into making the TPS reports look real. Even the cubicles were screen-tested. Stephen Root wore glasses so thick to look like Milton that he had to wear contact lenses to see through them. Even with contacts in, he had no depth perception. During the first few days of filming, it was freaking hot, with temperatures reaching over 100 degrees F (38 degree C), and the sky was filled with smoke from fires in Mexico. Studio executives weren’t impressed with early footage of the film. They thought the characters were boring, and that Ron Livingston as Peter had no energy and needed to smile more. They didn’t realize that this is how boring the real world, is, I guess, and that Peter hated his job. Later, the studio executives also didn’t like the use of gangsta rap on the soundtrack of the film. Rothman told Judge to take it out, but Judge said he would only if a focus group of folks who watched it didn’t like it. After one young dude in the focus group absolutely loved the fact that the characters worked in a boring office building but listened to gangsta rap, Rothman was like “fine, we’ll leave it in.” There was lots of improvisation on set. Like this scene We’re gonna be gettin’ rid of these people here, uh First, Mr. Samir Naga-hee Naga Naga, not gonna work here anymore anyway. or the famous scene where Peter, Michael, and Samir take their office printer out to a random field and beat the crap out of it. That scene, by the way, was inspired by Judge’s real-life frustration with his own printer while writing the script for Beavis and Butthead Do America. Speaking of Beavis and Butthead, Judge often spoke as Butthead on the set. And Boomhauer from his show King of the Hill. And that’s Judge as Joanna’s boss in the film, by the way. The film was very low-budget, with just $10 million to spend. Some say the film was not promoted very well. Judge hated this film poster, and many people seemed confused by it. 20th Century Fox did have a weird gimmick to promote the movie. They put a man live in a Plexiglas cube in Times Square for five days. Released on February 19, 1999, the film did not do that well at the box office. Eventually it did make a profit, though, making around $12.2 million. Judge later recalled that a studio executive told him “Nobody wants to see your little movie about ordinary people and their boring little lives.” However, Office Space went on to become a cult classic, as it became a regular staple on channels like Comedy Central and millions bought the movie on VHS, DVD, and later Bluray. The film is currently certified 80% fresh on Rotten Tomatoes, which is a lot higher than it used to be. It’s currently ranked 7.8 out of 10 on IMDB. While you should definitely watch it yourself, here is the basic storyline. As always, no major spoilers here. The film begins with Peter Gibbons stuck in horrendous suburban traffic on his way to work. It also cuts to his friends and co-workers Samir Nagheenanajar-I hope I said that correctly – and Michael Bolton (wow is that your real name? No, it’s just a coincidence. Oh.) driving through the same traffic on THEIR way to work. The film then walks you through what presumably is an average day that Peter has to endure at his job as a programmer at a company called Initech. It’s pretty clear early on that Peter hates his job and is very unmotivated. He is hounded by multiple supervisors about messing up a TPS report (we need to talk about your TPS reports. Yeah, the cover sheet. I know. I know. Uh, Bill talked to me about it. Yeah, did you get that memo?) and struggles to deal with annoying co-workers, to a point where he’s not that far into his shift when he already has to get out of there and take a break next door at Chotchkie’s, talking Samir and Michael into going with him. At Chotchkie’s, they reflect on the job as Michael puts hundreds of packets of sugar into his coffee Peter: What if we’re still doin’ this when we’re 50? Samir: It would be nice to have that kind of job security. and you also see Peter’s crush, Joanna, in a job she also doesn’t like. Upon their return to work, the three find out from paranoid and gossipy coworker Tom Smykowski that Initech plans on laying off workers, and they brought in consultants to help downsize the company. On Friday, Peter tries to avoid his boss, Lumbergh, so that he doesn’t get asked to work over the weekend, but Lumbergh catches him and asks him to work on Saturday. Lumbergh: Oh, oh. And I almost forgot…uh I’m also gonna have to ask you to go ahead and come in on Sunday too, k? We lost some people this week, and uh, we need to sort of play catch up. Thanks. That night, Peter’s girlfriend, Anne, talks him into seeing an occupational hypnotherapist, which I’m pretty sure isn’t a real thing. The therapist dies of a heart attack while hypnotizing Peter so that he doesn’t worry about his job so much. Well, he doesn’t worry about his job at all stuck now in this hypnotic state. Saturday morning, he wakes up now relaxed and ignores repeated phone calls from Lumbergh asking where he’s at. He doesn’t even care when Anne calls and breaks up with him and tells him she’s been cheating on him. The next week, everyone is worried about Peter, who doesn’t show up to work unless it’s for self-serving reasons, and decides to ask Joanna out while she’s at work, and two bond over their love of Kung Fu. For the rest of the film, you see how this new behavior by Peter leads to some surprising reactions by his co-workers and doesn’t get him fired, eventually culminating in a conspiracy to stick it to Initech after consultants Bob Slydell and Bob Porter reveal they will be callously firing hard, dedicated workers, while promoting the slacking Peter. Despite being a somewhat light-hearted comedy, Office Space raises some good questions about the merits of what it means to be a productive member of society. We often find true happiness when we feel like we are contributing to something greater than us and than we are a truly appreciated as a member of a group. For many modern work environments, especially in the corporate world, work often doesn’t translate to that. Many of the workers in the film feel alienated to a point where they would destroy the company, which demonstrates the disconnect we often have with whoever employs us. Lumbergh: So you should ask yourself with every decision you make “Is this good for the company?” And superficial token incentives won’t suffice Oh, and remember…next Friday is Hawaiian shirt day so you know, if you want to, go ahead an uh wear an Hawaiian shirt and jeans. Most importantly, the film is extremely relative. Nearly all of us work we all need to pay our bills somehow Peter: You know, I’ve never really liked paying bills and most of us tend to hate our jobs Peter: I don’t like my job and, I don’t think I’m gonna go anymore. Joanna: You’re just not gonna go? Peter: Yeah When people in the film say “looks like someone has a case of the Mondays,” it’s clear that every day is Monday for Peter, and that for much of us Monday means going back to a job we do not like. Office Space doesn’t feel like a film made by Hollywood. It doesn’t feel like actors playing the parts. It’s surprisingly realistic. That realistic nature comes from the emphasis on the ordinary and doldrums, and even the weirdness and awkwardness of everyday life. It’s believable that each character in the film in fact does exactly remind you of someone in real life. Like how Tom Smykowski reminds me of Uncle Wes. While all of Judge’s films and TV shows capture this well, Office Space especially does. So even if this film focuses on white-collar desk jobs, it could have just as easily followed Peter’s neighbor, Lawrence, and his experiences as a construction worker, to communicate the same themes. Still, the film is a great satirical critique of middle management, arbitrary regulations, and the corporate world as a whole. It even gets us thinking about greed and jealousy. Throughout the film, it constantly reminds us to evaluate how we spend our time, especially if we didn’t have to worry about paying the bills. Office Space is your quintessential cult classic. Its cult following has only grown in recent years and permeated American culture. Several parts of the film have turned into memes. The film changed the meaning of “TPS report.” Now, people think of pointless, tedious paperwork when they think of TPS reports. The PC LOAD LETTER error message also got a new meaning thanks to this movie- people now associate it with any confusing, vague message from a computer. The famous printer destroying scene has been parodied numerous times since, including in this 2016 election campaign ad by Ted Cruz, which attacked Hillary Clinton after her email controversy. Another great example of the film’s impact is seen through that red Swingline stapler that Milton so coveted. Ever since its release, the actor who played Milton, Stephen Root, has said he consistently gets people asking him to sign their red Swingline staplers, and actually, those red Swingline staplers didn’t even exist until more than three years after the film’s release. The Swingline staple in the film was spray painted red. So this is reality imitating art because if it weren’t for the movie, Swingline would never had made those red staplers later on. Office Space helped the modern workplace become a genre in art. Although the comic strip Dilbert had already been around, it became more popular after Office Space. In 2001, the BBC launched The Office and it was hit. The American version was an even bigger hit a few years later. Because of how dreadful the workplace environment was portrayed in the film, there has been a noticeable trend for companies to break away from many of the features seen in it. Of course, Mike Judge later made fun of those trends later with his show Silicon Valley. Peter: I don’t know why I can’t just go to work and be happy, like I’m supposed to and like everybody else. Joanna: Peter, most people don’t like their jobs but you go out there and find something that makes you happy John Altschuler, a frequent collaborator with Mike Judge over the years, said “(Office Space) spoke to a generation in a way that few movies have. Nobody does this kind of material. It’s all about the weirdness of real people in real life.” 20 years later, Office Space still resonates as a film that accurately critiques and pokes fun at the corporate work environment and gets us thinking about having a fulfilling career and balancing work and the rest of our lives. I don’t care what kind of work you do or don’t do- it’s simply not possible to not relate to this film, and that’s why it will likely still resonate 20 years from now. February 19th will be the 20th anniversary of this film coming out. While I absolutely love making these videos, boy do they make me feel old sometimes. I’d love to know your thoughts about the film in the comments below. Also, what other film would you like to see explained in a similar fashion? Also, I did similar videos for The Truman Show and School of Rock. Check them out. Thanks for watching everybody.