Lone Star Cinema: Office Space

 Ron Livingston, David Herman and Ajay Naidu in Office Space

Although Office Space wasn't a mega-hit in theaters, the workplace comedy has become a cult classic. The 1999 movie, shot in Austin and Dallas, has lent such lines to the lexicon as "Looks like someone has the case of the Mondays." Mike Judge's first full-length live-action movie follows the plight of workers at a generic white-collar company called Initech.

Office drone Peter (Ron Livingston) has a job he hates, stuck in a cubicle across from a lady who repetitively answers her phone in a high-pitched tone, overseen by eight bosses -- one of which is Lumbergh (Gary Cole in ginormous specs). Peter's work buddies are Samir (Ajay Naidu) and Michael Bolton (David Herman), both of whom constantly vent frustrations on their wonky fax machine. Bolton is beleagured by folks who ask if he's related to the singer. When asked why he won't go by Mike instead, he responds, "Why should I change, he's the one who sucks."

Peter dreams of dating waitress Joanna (Jennifer Aniston) who serves at Chotchkie's, a TGIFriday's/Applebee's/Bennigans (RIP) mashup. After his (soon-to-be ex) girlfriend takes him to an occupational hypnotherapist (Michael McShane, whose appearance made me reminiscent for the early days of Whose Line Is It Anyway?), Peter undergoes a sort of attitude adjustment; he gets up the nerve to ask Joanna out and stops going to the office.

While Peter is our obvious protagonist, there are multiple fascinating side characters in Office Space.  There's muttering Milton (Stephen Root) who loves his Swingline stapler and keeps being moved to smaller and smaller spaces within the office; Peter's next-door neighbor, construction worker Lawrence (Diedrich Bader) who chats with him through their thin apartment walls; office middleman Tom Smykowski (Richard Riehle) whose dream is to make a game called "Jump to Conclusions"; and the consultants (John C. McGinley and Paul Willson), both named Bob, brought in by corporate to set up layoffs. Orlando Jones even cameos in a short appearance as a door-to-door salesman.

Office Space is bitterly humorous, and despite the outdated tech -- here's where I will nitpick that the office workers supposedly use Apple software on PCs, or so the graphics lead us to believe -- it's still relevant. It's likely that the idea of getting revenge on a faceless corporate entity will never go out of style.

Also, I will never not enjoy the scene of Peter, Michael and Samir whomping the useless fax machine or the montage of Peter at the office as "Damn It Feels Good to Be A Gangsta" plays.  When I told my sister I was writing about Office Space, she started reciting lyrics from the soundtrack.

Office Space is available to watch online on Amazon (free for Prime subscribers).

Austin/Texas connections: Office Space was shot in Austin (and briefly, Dallas), where filmmaker Mike Judge lives. The Chotchkie's interiors were shot at The Old Alligator Grill (now closed), the apartments are AMLI at Great Hills, and you can definitely recognize Metric Boulevard. Check out the A.V. Club's look at some of the locations.

[Still via WSJ]