Release Date: 1999
Director: Mike Judge
Why I picked this: I need to watch something funny
A satire of office culture and work life, this movie has clever humor and funny performances. The movie takes place at a software company, following programmer Peter Gibbons, played by Ron Livingston. His days are monotonous and boring, and he often does nothing at his desk or is simply annoyed by some of the tedious aspects of working at that office, such as quirks from his co-workers or the passive-aggressiveness of his boss, Bill Lumbergh. Lumbergh frequently enters a scene with the words “[name], what’s happening?” and gives orders with the casual “Yeah, if you could just ______, that would be great.” These commonly used phrases in real-life workspaces are often used to great comedic effect thanks to a deadpan delivery of actor Gary Cole. Also occupying the office are Peter’s friends, played by David Herman, whose character comically shares a name with singer Michael Bolton, and Ajay Naidu. Like Peter, they are constantly harassed by their superiors in this unfriendly and generic corporate environment. Stephen Root plays Milton, a meek office worker who often mumbles and complains to others about the unfair behavior towards him. The office space itself is bland and boring, and it and its not-so-colorful characters and corporate language make for a very tangible setting. The plot really begins when Peter sits through some sort of hypnotherapy session, but the sudden death of the hypnotist during the session apparently leaves him in a permanently relaxed state. As a result, Peter becomes more apathetic towards his job, simply not going or not doing work at all. He is happy fulfilling his dream of “doing nothing.” Ironically, consultants brought in to downsize the company like Peter due to his behavior and attitude, and basically promote him. When the company intends to fire Peter’s friends, the three cook up a scheme inspired by “Superman III” to get back at the company. Also occurring is a romance between Peter and a waitress named Joanna, played by Jennifer Aniston. Joanna too is unsatisfied with her work environment, and brief scenes with her at the restaurant make fun of a separate work culture, but ultimately, she had no major role in the plot. The movie makes use of rap music during certain montages, juxtaposing the bland work environment, but is very fitting, especially during some of the more memorable and funny sequences of the film. There is much subtle humor and pop culture references, making for an overall funny and quotable movie. However, some may find that the movie ends too abruptly and in too tidy a manner.
An off-beat and funny look at office culture, this movie has funny characters, performances, and memorable lines and scenes.