We actually screen-tested different gray cubicle pieces.
January 21, 2019 9:17 PM   Subscribe

Office Space - the oral history.
posted by Chrysostom (76 comments total) 44 users marked this as a favorite
 
I love this movie so so much.

The actor who plays Peter looks exactly the same after 20 years!

There's a deleted scene on the DVD where Peter is yammering about feeling free and Mike says "You sound like a Gen X coffeehouse dick." That phrase became my username on more than one online forum. But someone upstaged me with Notalen Tasscloüne
posted by Harvey Kilobit at 9:48 PM on January 21 [7 favorites]


"But we do it from a much bigger tray and we do it a couple of million times," is my catchphrase for .99 cent in-app purchases for games.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 9:54 PM on January 21 [4 favorites]


Chrysostom,

Thank you. I needed to get a laugh. That film is still to present to be twenty years old. A generation on you think we would have tried to fix the kind of issues that Office Space so pointedly skewered. Ah, but at least we can all have a stapler.
posted by Ignorantsavage at 9:54 PM on January 21 [4 favorites]


This is cool, thanks for posting it.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 10:11 PM on January 21


I only saw it once, but there's this Canadian film waydowntown which is like Office Space only much, much darker.

Also, I love Mike Judge and basically everything he's done has somehow affected my life. Frog Baseball!
posted by hippybear at 10:20 PM on January 21 [10 favorites]


The film holds up and remains culturally relevant. Just yesterday a colleague and I were joking about "nerds looking up money laundering in a dictionary".

(we weren't plotting anything nefarious, honest)
posted by St. Oops at 10:34 PM on January 21 [2 favorites]


(that's just what someone planning something nefarious would say)
posted by hippybear at 10:40 PM on January 21 [16 favorites]


There was something about this movie that felt so weird and wonderfully beige. I wish there had been more questions about the lighting and sound design because the atmosphere is really what struck me when I first watched the movie. Back then it was harder to get access to flops or you'd just walk by them at the video store because they weren't marketed or the DVD cover looked dumb, so in college there was a real cachet to knowing about weird underground movies. Of all the cult classics I brought back to show my parents in those years, I think Office Space was the biggest hit.
posted by muddgirl at 10:54 PM on January 21 [4 favorites]


You had parents you could share flops with? YOU HAD SUCH GREAT PARENTS!
posted by hippybear at 10:55 PM on January 21 [2 favorites]


How on earth did my mom figure out I started smoking weed? Could it be because I suggested we watch Half Baked then pretended I didn't understand any of it??? I claim these were underground movies but looking back it was just whatever Comedy Central showed during their movie block in 2003...
posted by muddgirl at 11:01 PM on January 21 [4 favorites]


My parents are and continue to be stalwart Presbyterians with a (gratefully passed along to me) heavy habit of PBS but mostly limited to that and network law dramas. I love them a lot, but I don't share most of my life with them.

Office Space would be like the landscape of an alien planet to both of them. Both in humor and in material being mined for humor.
posted by hippybear at 11:06 PM on January 21 [3 favorites]


Diedrich Bader is such an underrated part of this movie. There is a line he has that I'm OBSESSED with, and it's such a nothing line, but when he and Peter are talking in the kitchen about his job and drinking beers, Peter goes to hand him a bottle opener and Diedrich is just ready and says, "No, I got it, man." That line, that little tiny bit, felt so natural to me. Just effortless. I don't know why it grabs me so much. I haven't seen the movie in like a decade and I still remember that little bit vividly.

Anyway, he was perfect for the part and I'm glad they chose him.
posted by gc at 11:18 PM on January 21 [22 favorites]


SF Sketchfest has an Office Space event this Thursday, with a screening and Q & A.
posted by Pronoiac at 12:31 AM on January 22 [1 favorite]


I read somewhere that after Office Space Space flopped Fox just forgot about this movie until sometime in the late 90s I think? Some exec at Fox thought to look at what their all-time best selling dvds were, and Office Space was in the top 5. When they realized that, they immediately made a deal with Mike Judge, letting him do whatever he wanted. The result was Idiocracy.
posted by nushustu at 3:47 AM on January 22 [11 favorites]


When they realized that, they immediately made a deal with Mike Judge, letting him do whatever he wanted. The result was Idiocracy.

Which they then treated even worse.
posted by PenDevil at 3:51 AM on January 22 [4 favorites]


I love this movie. When I had a particularly soul-crushing office job, I would watch it every Sunday night.
posted by natasha_k at 5:32 AM on January 22 [1 favorite]


corporate accounts payable, nina speaking. just a moment
corporate accounts payable, nina speaking. just a moment
corporate accounts payable, nina speaking. just a moment
posted by entropicamericana at 6:32 AM on January 22 [23 favorites]


The first time I saw this was right after quitting a tech support job. When I saw Peter hesitate to open the door and get the expected static shock, I laughed to the point of tears. That was always an issue in our office, and it always felt like some cosmic Pavlov was trying to tell me to quit.
posted by condour75 at 6:38 AM on January 22 [3 favorites]


Judge: After that, studios wanted me for big comedies. NBC even asked me to do the American version of The Office. They sent over the British version with a letter and some reviews. The first said, “The Office succeeds where movies like Office Space failed.” I passed. [Laughs]
Is this how Greg Daniels got involved in The Office? It would be a big coincidence otherwise.
posted by riruro at 6:39 AM on January 22 [2 favorites]


Diedrich Bader is such an underrated part of this movie.

Of everything. He is one of the best comic actors of his generation.
posted by Etrigan at 6:41 AM on January 22 [6 favorites]


Jennifer Aniston had 3 quotes. 2 of them were her just saying how she had a crush on someone.
posted by GreatValhalla at 7:20 AM on January 22 [2 favorites]


Bob Porter: Looks like you’ve been missing a lot of work lately.
Peter: I wouldn’t say I’ve been missing it, Bob.
posted by some loser at 7:24 AM on January 22 [21 favorites]


Wait, Office Space was a flop?!?!?
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 7:27 AM on January 22


I'm of an age to have worked several gray-cube jobs, and this movie was sooooo familiar as to actually make me sad. But, the laughs always wipe that away.

Interestingly, I've met at least one upper-management type who didn't get the humor at all. He sort of saw the characters as examples of what was wrong with employees today. Go figure.
posted by Thorzdad at 7:28 AM on January 22 [9 favorites]


Diedrich Bader is such an underrated part of this movie.

In a weird way, his role and character remind me of Old Bull Lee/William Burroughs I’m On the Road. There’s a scene where he tells the main character just to stay and relax, not to go back out on the road, because all those people he’s chasing after are all assholes who don’t really care.

Both of those characters, in On the Road, and here in office space, they seem to genuinely care about the main character, not as a means to an end, but as a person, in ways others in the story don’t.

This movie wasn’t a huge part of me leaving my old career and trying to make a go in restaurant work, but I’d be lying if I said it didn’t have at least a little impact. On the other hand, having quit an office-ish job for blue collar work, sure, there’s the joy of working with your hands, and with leaving work at work, but the problem is your hands hurt and you’re working all the time to make ends meet, because the pay sucks.
posted by Ghidorah at 7:37 AM on January 22 [4 favorites]


I think I first saw the film in college (it was definitely before I had my first "real job") and I remember getting this mild dread about going in to the working world from it. And then I took an internship at GE and one of the very first things I encountered were honest-to-God TPS Reports sitting on my desk. I nearly ran out screaming.
posted by backseatpilot at 7:38 AM on January 22 [8 favorites]


I hadn't seen the deleted scenes. Lumbergh dies in the fire? And is reincarnated as the constuction boss? That's kind of dark.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 8:03 AM on January 22 [3 favorites]


There are times when I honest-to-god model my reaction to work consciously on Peter. Like, I talked to my therapist about it and loaned her the DVD and she agreed this is a healthy strategy for survival as America descends into a capitalist hellscape. I mean, it’s not like my particular job is as soul crushing as working at Initech, but Judge just nailed how soul-destroying the meat grinder is and what monsters the people who succeed in this culture are. You gotta take care of yourself as a person first and if that means getting fired, then so be it because being used and abused as a slave in the cubicle salt mines is worse than unemployment. It’s honestly the reason I’m a socialist (though I realize Judge’s angle is probably more libertarian). Not that it’s impossible to be happy and whole working in an industrial park, just that you have to keep perspective, it’s not worth being miserable. I get that it’s easier for the Peters of the world to get away with being flippant toward work because they skew white, male, and educated and their privilege affords them options where they are less financially trapped, but the central point is still valid - all people have inherent value and have a right to basic dignity from their employer.

Peter is a hero for our times and I seriously look to his character in moments of frustration. Right now, I am literally lying on my bed with my cat sleeping on top of me after calling in “sick” to work. Last week, I was told I needed to complete a 3 hour on line training in preparation for an important meeting tomorrow and that unfortunately I couldn’t block out my schedule to do this on company time. My weekend was jam packed with family stuff and I finally got it done last night at 130 am. So I woke to my alarm after 4 and a 1/2 hours sleep. I think I could have powered through a 10 hour day on four hours sleep, but I don’t think I should have to. So I did what Peter would have done. Fuck you, boss, this is the risk you run making people work on their own time. And I’ll saunter in to the meeting tomorrow well rested and shiny and people will say “there’s a guy who’s strictly management material” after I just cost the company a ton of money not showing up to work.
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 8:38 AM on January 22 [27 favorites]


I quit a soul-sucking "office job" (it was the Cataloging section of a library, it was IN an office, I guess...we had gray cubicles) after seeing this movie. Like, I saw the movie on Friday and didn't go back into the office on Monday. The sudden joblessness vaulted me into a new direction that turned out to be a GREAT direction. So thank you, Office Space, for opening my eyes and giving me the kick I needed to move on.
posted by Gray Duck at 8:54 AM on January 22 [7 favorites]


Wait, Office Space was a flop?!?!?

“No. No, man. Shit, no, man. I believe you'd get your ass kicked sayin' something like that, man.”
posted by Fizz at 9:38 AM on January 22 [14 favorites]


I love Office Space. I had a real "I feel old" moment the other day when I made a reference to it and none of the 20-somethings at work had seen it.

Overall it's aged beautifully, except when I see their office it doesn't evoke horror anymore. I yearn for those nice tall cubicles. Now we have open floor plan panopticons. It's no longer possible to sink into your chair and glare at your screen in private as Peter Gibbons does; now you have to do it in full view of Lumbergh.

It's an awesome bit of trivia that Swingline introduced red staplers as a result of Office Space. Maybe I'll buy one even though I rarely have anything to staple.
posted by qxntpqbbbqxl at 10:00 AM on January 22 [16 favorites]


I am currently playing a droid character in a Fantasy Flight Star Wars role-playing game campaign whose concept is "what if C-3PO got hit with the same hypnosis technique as the guy from Office Space." If I say so myself, the results are pretty funny. ("Navigating an asteroid field? Huh. Looks like fun.") (Need I mention I love the movie?)
posted by Gelatin at 10:05 AM on January 22 [3 favorites]


TIL the name of Diedrich Bader
posted by Hermeowne Grangepurr at 10:17 AM on January 22 [2 favorites]


TIL the name of Diedrich Bader

The guy from Drew Carey that isn't the guy from Who's Line is how he will always be to me.
posted by Space Coyote at 10:18 AM on January 22 [3 favorites]


David Herman is such a great on-screen presence. It’s kind of a shame he got swallowed by the same voice-acting bug that still hasn’t finished digesting the equally interesting comedic-character-acting likes of Julie Kavner, Yeardley Smith, et al.
posted by Sys Rq at 10:19 AM on January 22


Wait, Office Space was a flop?!?!?

Didn't you get the memo?

And, I'm gonna need you to go ahead and come in this weekend.
posted by nubs at 10:22 AM on January 22 [1 favorite]


Diedrich Bader is such an underrated part of this movie.

"Watch out for your cornhole, Peter"

Spot on advice from Lawrence.
posted by e1c at 10:55 AM on January 22


There are times when I honest-to-god model my reaction to work consciously on Peter.

I thought for years that this movie contained the line, "They pay me to do [x], they don't pay me to give a shit about [x]," but apparently, it... doesn't?
posted by Etrigan at 11:10 AM on January 22


I missed this movie in the theater but caught it on video and immediately showed it to ANYONE WHO WAS WILLING TO SIT DOWN.

I worked for Boeing at the time and oh my god you guys.
posted by Fleebnork at 11:16 AM on January 22 [6 favorites]


Also I recommended it to all of my coworkers and I recall our supervisor saying he didn't see what was supposed to be funny about it. Figures.
posted by Fleebnork at 11:19 AM on January 22


Ron Livingston is great in any role that requires him to be fed up, grumpy or pissed off at the world. I would binge watch a series called Ron Livingston Has Had Enough Of This Crap.
posted by YoungStencil at 11:33 AM on January 22 [8 favorites]


The most meta experience I ever had was watching this movie in a boardroom of my cubical hellhole office with my co-workers as a part of a charity fundraiser not long after a major lay-off. So many mixed emotions.
posted by fimbulvetr at 12:41 PM on January 22 [2 favorites]


My brothers and I used to watch Office Space regularly when we were in high school and it was on frequent Comedy Central broadcast rotation. My dad refused to watch more than a couple minutes of it, claiming “it hit too close to home.” Now that I’ve been in various cubicles myself for the past 15 years, I finally see what he meant. Maybe I should hunt down a copy, my current office looks just like that photo Fleebnork posted...
posted by Maarika at 1:54 PM on January 22 [1 favorite]


My last job looked like this. Frankly, I'd kill for a cubicle now after five years of working in a open plan.
posted by octothorpe at 2:30 PM on January 22 [4 favorites]


From the moment I first saw this movie, the clarity and immediacy with which Bader answers Peter's question as to what he would do with a million dollars ("I'll tell you what I'd do, man...") has always been something I've aspired to in my life.
posted by dry white toast at 2:33 PM on January 22 [6 favorites]


Among other things, Rom Livingston was fantastic in Band of Brothers.
posted by Ghidorah at 2:43 PM on January 22 [3 favorites]


my wife and i have a running joke where, if we catch ourselves complaining about something that is relatively minor in the grand scheme of things, we start mumbling like Milton about how "I could see the squirrels, and they were married…" and trail off
posted by murphy slaw at 2:47 PM on January 22 [7 favorites]


Among other things, Rom Livingston was fantastic in Band of Brothers.

I love how he plays Captain Nixon like a cynical Gen-Xer who was dropped into the middle of the Greatest Generation by mistake.
posted by officer_fred at 3:34 PM on January 22 [8 favorites]


I will always treasure Office Space as the one cult I was in on from the beginning. "Mike Judge workplace comedy" was such an obvious win for me that I saw it on opening night at the Brandon Cinemas in Forest Hills after a workout at the NYSC across the street. I walked out a changed man and was PREACHING that shit from that day onward. Probably told 50 people they had to see it over the next few weeks. For the next ten years, I was gratified with the trickle of people saying "MattD, wasn't you who said I had to see this?"

Also, Office Space is notable as the kick-off of the annus mirabilis of film that was 1999. So many great movies: Fight Club, Being John Malkovitch, Three Kings, The Matrix, Iron Giant, etc.
posted by MattD at 5:51 PM on January 22 [8 favorites]


The first time I saw Office Space, it was the in-flight movie on a plane flying me across the continent to a very lucrative programming gig I'd been sweet-talked into taking, several years after having escaped from the IT industry and working happily as a taxi driver.

So I'm sitting in this plane wearing my op-shop pinstripe suit and giggling at the printer destruction scene and the Bobs and shuddering at Gary Cole's magnificent Lumbergh, then I arrive in Perth and walk into a building that might as well have been Initech. It was eerie - this huge Skinner maze of partitions with just the right height to have apparently disembodied heads float past my workspace all day. There was even a little mini kitchen down one end of one of the corridors with a tea urn and a Skittles dispenser in it; finding my way through the maze and pressing a little bar with my front paws would reward me with brightly coloured food pellets.

That job ended up literally driving me insane. I retain the utmost respect for those who are able to function in such conditions without completely losing their shit. I am not one of them.
posted by flabdablet at 6:28 PM on January 22 [12 favorites]


The first night I saw “Office Space” was the night I met the man I’m now married to. (We didn’t actually get together until nearly a year later, but we met that night, which has to count for something.) It was definitely a case of showing it to anybody who would sit still long enough — I was on an overnight college visit, and my dorm hosts literally took me by the hand and pulled me into the group watching it.

And now we live in Austin, so we can drive by lots of the exterior locations and wave!
posted by snowmentality at 8:09 PM on January 22 [1 favorite]


When that movie came out, I was an office-drone in Silicon Valley. That movie is inexpensive therapy for me! (I actually saw it twice on the big screen. I think my housemate and I went on a Friday, and then went again on Sunday with a few other friends.)
posted by Tailkinker to-Ennien at 9:36 PM on January 22 [1 favorite]


In a weird way, [Diedrich Bader's] role and character remind me of Old Bull Lee/William Burroughs I’m On the Road.

Lawrence is a younger, hornier, version of Sam Elliott's Stranger in The Big Lebowski.

A couple of Christmases ago, my brother told me that he'd only just watched Office Space for the first time and I was like how in hell have you not seen it before? Then he spent all Christmas repeating lines. It was charming and hilarious and a little like watching an island castaway.

"PC Load Letter? What the fuck does that mean!?" and "I wouldn’t say I’ve been missing it, Bob." are my two go-to lines.
posted by octobersurprise at 7:25 AM on January 23 [8 favorites]


The sad thing about the PC Load Letter scene is that printing is still impossible twenty years later. My laptop just stopped talking to the printer after I upgraded to Mojave and I can't figure out what the hell is wrong. Somehow I thought that by 2019, we'd be past that.
posted by octothorpe at 8:49 AM on January 23 [2 favorites]


All printers belong to a VERY strong union.
posted by Greg_Ace at 9:01 AM on January 23 [6 favorites]


Ron Livingston is great in any role that requires him to be fed up, grumpy or pissed off at the world. I would binge watch a series called Ron Livingston Has Had Enough Of This Crap.

He's really good in The Cooler (2003) - gets his ass kicked by Alec Baldwin.
posted by porn in the woods at 2:48 PM on January 24


OTOH, there's Ron Livingston + break up by post-it note...
posted by TWinbrook8 at 3:43 AM on January 25


people will say “there’s a guy who’s strictly management material”

IIRC, the quote is "A straight-shooter with upper management written all over him".
posted by ArgentCorvid at 9:14 AM on January 25 [1 favorite]


At the SF Sketchfest event last night, David Herman, who played Michael Bolton, brought up the Michael Bolton playing Michael Bolton video, previously on the blue.

Diedrich Bader didn't make it due to a delayed-then-cancelled flight; he tweeted:
I’ve officially asked the @SFSketchfest to have the audience at OFFICE SPACE after the screening to google image "two chicks at the same time"
My picture comes up
For this and many other gifts I’m very grateful to have been included in this historic film
That search results in pages of pictures of Bader. Pages.
posted by Pronoiac at 7:32 PM on January 25 [6 favorites]


Um, Rolling Stone published another oral history of Office Space today. (via a deleted post from k5.user)
posted by Pronoiac at 7:57 AM on February 19 [2 favorites]


The oral histories complement each other. Am not sure when I first saw Office Space, but I find it slightly unnerving that it debuted during my first tech job in a cubicle farm.
posted by ZeusHumms at 9:15 AM on February 19


The Ringer: Follow the Path of Least Resistance: An Oral History of ‘Office Space’ by Jake Kring-Schreifels
posted by ZeusHumms at 9:41 AM on February 19 [1 favorite]


Sweet. Three Office Space oral histories this year and it's only February. By my count, we've got 15 more before the year is over.
posted by riruro at 10:59 AM on February 19 [3 favorites]


And here's something else, riruro... I have three different oral histories right now.

I beg your pardon?

Three oral histories.

Three?

Three, riruro. So that means that when I forget one thing about this movie... I have three different writers coming by to tell me about it. That's my only real motivation, is not to be hassled.
posted by Etrigan at 11:04 AM on February 19 [8 favorites]


Three is the minimum, okay, Etrigan? Now, you know it's up to you whether or not you want to just do the bare minimum. Or... well, like Brian, for example, has thirty-seven oral histories of Mike Judge movies, okay. And a terrific smile.
posted by Rock Steady at 11:10 AM on February 19 [6 favorites]


I'm still mystified how folks in the USA could know about PC LOAD LETTER. I mean, you only get it if your HP printer isn't set up to take Letter-sized paper, as might happen in this little place called everywhere but North America.

I was working in a much more beige publishing office in Scotland when Office Space came out. We got a lot of memos from the New York office, and every one of those suckers produced a PC LOAD LETTER. We also discovered you could do a thing with telnet and an HP printer that allowed arbitrary messages to appear.
posted by scruss at 11:32 AM on February 19 [1 favorite]


Willie D: We actually did an Office Space–Geto Boys tour in 2015. We had some office furniture on the stage and part of it was we had a printer and we smashed the printer with the bat, so we reenacted the scene with the music.

I mean. You can't make this shit up.
posted by Rock Steady at 11:50 AM on February 19


I'm still mystified how folks in the USA could know about PC LOAD LETTER. I mean, you only get it if your HP printer isn't set up to take Letter-sized paper, as might happen in this little place called everywhere but North America.

It came up when the printer was out of paper. It came up when the printer thought it was out of paper. It came up when you removed the paper tray to clear a paper jam. It came up if the tray wasn't sitting just right. It came up if you looked at the printer the wrong way, coughed near it, or maybe muttered something about its mother being a pinhead.
posted by nubs at 11:52 AM on February 19 [9 favorites]


I just got this email from Think Geek and it kind of freaked me out.
posted by Rock Steady at 12:03 PM on February 19




What strikes me about “Office Space” is just how authentic it feels. So often from my viewpoint when TV or movies try to depict workplaces it is immediately obvious that the writers involved have never held a job other than “screenwriter” since so many details are totally wrong. With “Office Space” it was evident, even before having read any interviews with Judge, that this was a movie written by someone who had spent real time in the trenches who know of where he spoke.

Even today, with 20 years having passed since the film came out, sure, some aspects of office culture have changed, but so much of this movie is still so incredibly relatable (I thought of the film immediately in December when I was asked to work on a project during my PTO, for example). There is something so cathartic about a movie like this; an acknowledgement that somebody in the larger world understands your experience.
posted by The Gooch at 3:54 PM on February 19 [1 favorite]


The only thing I’ve ever thought was off about the movie is that, to some extent, the main character lacks agency. His sudden epiphany isn’t his own, he was hypnotized into it, and without that, he wouldn’t have done any of the things that lead to him gaining his happiness by the end of the movie. I’ve always thought that wasn’t necessary, honestly. I mean, I never needed to be hypnotized to realize I didn’t like working in a meaningless environment with absurd rules and regulations.

Well, that, and the main romantic conflict being about Aniston’s character’s sexual history before meeting the main character. That just seemed dumb then, and wrongheaded now.
posted by Ghidorah at 4:20 PM on February 19 [1 favorite]


Office Space giveaway: 20th Century Fox and Swingline host Milton Red Swingline Stapler contest where you can win a lifetime supply of staples (April Neale)

I am pretty sure that I already won that contest, because I have at least one staple in my house and do not remember the last time I had to staple anything.
posted by Etrigan at 7:10 PM on February 19 [2 favorites]


AV Club: A 20-year case of the Mondays: What’s the legacy of Office Space?
posted by Chrysostom at 7:12 PM on February 19 [1 favorite]


I think this thread closes in a day or two; there's also a Fanfare thread.
posted by Pronoiac at 12:09 AM on February 21 [1 favorite]


The thing that gets me about PC LOAD LETTER is how unrealistic it is. I know it's just a movie, but it's a movie that's lauded for it's accuracy! When they're stomping and kicking the printer to pieces? That would hurt! They would cut their feet through their shoes! Broken toes! Metal blades and shards of hard plastic that don't want to come apart. Some pop-up panel that pops up and rakes up your shin. A display lens springs out and hits someone in the eye. Make the wrong move around a lot of computer hardware and you see how it bites. It's like drum equipment that way, so many more corners and edges than you think a three-dimensional object could possibly have.

Aside from that, this is a great movie that was either filmed too early or released too late. I didn't see it until after the 21st century computerized office held sway, so it was immediately apparent that at least one part wasn't going to age well. And that's fine, even if it's a teensy bit distracting.
posted by rhizome at 1:18 PM on February 21


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