Office Space 101

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.

100 thoughts on “Office Space 101

  1. I think I have watched Office Space about 90 times. After watching this YT vid, I think I'm gonna go watch it again for 91.

  2. … I literally sort purchase orders and inventory spreadsheets for 8 hours a day… @0:54

  3. Mike Judge is excellent producer.
    Film was great. King of the hill was great. Beavis and Butthead was very clever, but I wouldn't want my kids watching it.

  4. It’s a perfect movie, or close to it. I ran stores for years and it’s the same thing. Any mistake meant your boss was calling then his boss would call then a supervisor who wasn’t even your boss would call then your boss would call again cause he got a call from his boss 🤦🏽‍♂️ don’t miss it.

  5. This is my favorite comedy films of all time!!!!!!🤩🤩🤩🤩🤩

  6. I seen this in the Movies when it first came out.. I Loved it .. It was perfect

  7. Your spoilerless plot section featured so many spoilers lol But if you havent seen this movie by now you should probably go work at Initech

  8. I actually worked in a call center with many cubicles. I had never seen the movie until my nephew suggested it. I watched it and yelled "these m'fers have been following my life", because everyone in the movie I knew someone in real life. I do enjoy the movie, and I watch it at least one every month, usually Sunday morning when I'm just lounging around waiting for my afternoon football game. But, this is the best cult movie to watch if you just need a good laugh. And yes, it does feel good to be a gangsta…

  9. In my Top 10 all time. Never had a desk job, yet I relate 💯% So hysterical, cuz it’s true!
    Glad the focus group opted for the Gangsta Rap, too. Absolute Cult Classic! 🗂

  10. Some movie executive dink don't want people actin like a gangsta!The music/soundtrack of this movie is awesome.

  11. What's with this reading the narration without taking a breath between sentences? It's annoying.
    Periods are there for a reason. It means STOP, and then proceed.

  12. The office that I work at has internal software that we use made in house. There is a "TPS Report" tab that we can use to see who did what and was clearly stated in training that it is an Office Space reference.

  13. Is this a millennial? Seems kind of gay. Does it just make these videos for money, or for the endorphines?

  14. Office Space and The Matrix both came out in 1999, and in both movies:

     1. There is a scene early in each movie where the main character tries to evade some authority figure(s) in an office with cubicles by peaking over the tops of the cubicles

    2. Both main characters are computer programmers who have done some illegal hacking of some sort that gets them into trouble.

    3. Both main characters have an existential crisis throughout the movie, which causes them to question the "reality" around them. And both main characters finally see the truth of their "reality" after some specific intervention (Neo taking the red pill, and Peter being hypnotized).

    4. Both main characters are bachelors who live alone until they meet and fall in love with the main female character in the movie.

    5. In the first level of the ENTER THE MATRIX video game from 2003, there are guards talking about "the new TPS reports".

    6. After Peter becomes hypnotized there's a scene where he is looking at a badge saying " we're not in Kansas anymore" and in the matrix Cypher is quoted as saying to Neo "Buckle your seat belt, Dorothy, cause Kansas is going bye-bye." as he's about to be plugged in. plugged in or hypnotized hmmm…. something, something about the wizard of oz being the mk ultra/ mind control re-programming's favorite…

    P.S Sub me for alternate movie endings and amazing content by spring 2020

  15. Anyone know what the font is for the opening credits?
    It kinda reminds me of that old disney font they used in live action movies.

  16. Office Space is one of my "Go To Movies". It Always sits on my shelf waiting to make me Laugh and Forget about a Crappy Day At Work. LOL I rank it 4 in MY Top 10. Really Enjoyed Your Video. Next you need to Break Down the movie:
    Waiting… Its a Hilarious Movie that explains a Crazy Time in Resturaunt Work. LOL. Excellent Movie!!!!

  17. I remember driving in Austin past the building in the last scene being filmed when it was on fire. I had no clue what was going on!

  18. IMO the most brilliant moment in this movie is when Lumberg brings in peter for OT on saturday and sunday "because we lost some people this week and we sort of need to play catch up" when they are in the middle of layoffs. It perfectly captures the way big companies function (malfunction?) sometimes.

  19. How was he paranoid and gossipy? He had the scoop and his boys back. Need more like him.

  20. What's sad is that Peter's little cubicle in the movie is actually bigger than the cubicle I'm in at work. All I have to do is lean back in my chair, and I'm in the aisle.

  21. honestly I didn't think the gangsta rap was a good fit for the characters either but it was funny

  22. This film was definitely not advertised well, i have mentioned how good this is to tons of people and always get the same response "Never heard of it".

  23. This film made me realise that I was in no way alone, or unreasonable, in my hatred of corporate office 'life'. The mindless paperwork the stupid petty bosses, etc, etc. A very good summary of this film that really resonated, and made us laugh. One of my fave lines, 'this isn't just about me and my dream of doing nothing…'


  25. When this came out I did the plumbing for a bldg. Just like this.(j.p.l. in Long Beach CA.) Only having to go to this enormous he'll hole a couple times a week I still thank God I didn't have to more often. My good friend who coincidently did work there at the time told me of one guy missing from the film…seriouly now. Guy is a grown man and off work a total "goth" but at work just couldn't quite hide the fact. ( remnants of eye liner, pasty skin and died black hair etc.) Soo funny if he would have been in this cast.

  26. What I love about this film the most is that Peter is such a good dude that he's practically telling his friends, "Look bros, they're laying you off but giving me a promotion. Fuck that, I value my friendship with you guys more than I value this job… let's come up with a way to take advantage of them as much as possible before your time runs out." LOYALTY is the most important word in the English language to me, and this dude has it. It's not unseating Empire Strikes Back from the number 1 spot, but you better believe Office Space is on my Top-10 films list.

  27. even not ever working in an office, it's still hilarious. working a single day anywhere will allow you to love this. its about dealing with co workers and bosses in general.

  28. I've seen this movie 10 times. And plan to watch it soon again. So true, holds as well today as it did 20 years ago…

  29. Who ever posted this……dude write your own movie already. You are the movie expert!

  30. This film is my life. As an IT professional for over 35 years, watching this (many times!) is like watching reality. One of my all time favorite films!!!!

  31. Comedy? I thought this was a documentary. Sheer. Freaking. Genius.

  32. I was about 8 months in to working as a clerk at a law firm, saw this after some years prior to the last time, almost immediately quit. Now I bartend and it’s one of the best decisions I’ve made in my 25 years. Thank you, Mike Judge.

  33. I told my boss today, it’s not that I’m lazy, I just don’t care anymore

  34. I found another Mr. Beat channel!! Cool!! Aaaaaaaaaand, SUBSCRIBE!

  35. Please don't do quotes with that echo. Other than that good video

  36. Yeaaaaaaah, I'm going to have to go ahead and agree that this film is great.

  37. The casting made this movie. If they had chosen Vaughn or Wilson that character would not have been as good

  38. A film which deserves its status as a cult classic. Tapping into the collective mind of a culture that is based on technology consumerism. Love it.

  39. The best satirical depiction of the modern corporate world and how it crushes down on workers. Practically a western film of revenge in its own sense, and what's best about it, it speaks directly to the people suffering from this system. Another perfect film from the perfect 1999.

  40. It's incredible that big names in the industry auditioned for parts and yet less known people got the parts and they took the right decisions about it, because the cast in this movie is pitch perfect!

  41. Ok. I had academic smarts as a kid. Got a job befitting my ego with status that gets me a decent income. And I hate it.

    I have 3 boys with varying special needs who do not have academic smarts and will not aspire to have a job that feeds my ego.

    And that is frakin great 👍🏽

  42. Joanna's boss looks like a real life version of Ned Flanders from the Simpsons.

  43. Before this movie there was "Head Office", that was Hilarious (to me). ;-D

  44. I hate my white collar office job with sociopathic management more than words can say.

  45. Great video. U should do some 80's classics. Fast Times at Ridgemont High, Breakfast Club, Ski School, and the #1 80's movie RAD

  46. As a person that has been self employed for the past 36 years I can only partially relate after working as an employee for two years prior. After 2 years of working for other people I never found a place to work that I found comfortable. When I started my own business 36 years ago it was very scary. I went from earning decent money and being unhappy to being happy and being broke. A year later things finally turned in my direction and my business started to be profitable. For 8 months I was on food stamps. I felt great when I was finally able to pay my way. 36 years later it is still difficult to earn a decent wage as a self employed person but it is better than working for someone else. My standards never matched the people I worked for. I would prefer to work harder and longer rather than compromise my integrity.

  47. Swingline actually did make a red stapler BEFORE the movie but had stopped production of it way before movie was filmed, in related news, I can also see the squirrels, and they ARE merry….

  48. Imagine the office printer scene in the field without gangster rap. C'mon now.

  49. a movie almost 2 decades old and youre going over it?
    go over your wrists with a knife cut deep

  50. Dude. Jennifer Aniston had a crush on the dude that played Michael Bolton. what the fuck. Goddamn

  51. Awesome movie! The comedy is great, and I am guilty of downloading many memes of the movie, especially of the most irritating boss Lumburgh! The Bobs were too cool! Samir WHATEVERTHEHELLHISLASTNAMEIS, Michael, and Peter are so perfect for their roles. Jennifer Aniston was awesome as "Joanna!" I will watch the movie again this coming weekend, as i own the DVD!

  52. No, no no no, no no. This bland review doesn't even begin to explain the charm of the movie that made it a cult classic and you just have to see it. Even if you don't work in an office, there are offices where you work and you can relate. You don't have to relate to it on that level either because the dynamics are the same anywhere you go and the whole thing is great from many aspects but you definitely don't need to work in an office to relate to this movie and enjoy it.

  53. Correction, the movie was filmed in Las Colinas, just outside of Dallas, TX – Not Austin, TX. BTW, WTF does PC LOAD LETTER mean?

  54. Even with a strong cult following, it's still one of the most underrated comedy films of the last few decades (if not of all time!)

  55. Judge allowed the actors to improv, and so many of the brilliant bits of Office Space are due to that. Like the bald Bob saying, 'Naga, naga, na-gonna work here anymore', that wasn't scripted and I'm pretty sure scenes with Lawrence were improved as well, just as examples. Also 'ass clown' was coined by Dave Herman in this movie as well. So much goodness in this movie.

  56. If you've ever worked in an office, especially as a software engineer, you would love this movie!

  57. I just popped this one in my VCR and watched it before tomorrow (Monday) 😢

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