Film in 1999: Office Space
The final year of the 20th century was pivotal not only for me but for the world of film. I left the safety that lay under my parent's roof and moved to Milwaukee, leaving my job managing a movie theatre and entering a short-lived stint in film school.
This is the first time in my generation when the medium of film was changed and the old guard started to crumble. I'll never forget the excitement we felt as we saw cinema change before our eyes.
Throughout the year, I'll explore in chronological order the films of that year that made an impression on me, some for the good and some for the bad.
Office Space: February 19
I really hated Office Space when it first came out.
The reason why was simple: I hadn't stepped foot in a cubicle yet. If there was one character in the whole movie I could relate to, it was Jennifer Anniston's character Joanna, the frustrated waitress who was constantly asked by her creepy boss to go above and beyond in her thankless job. Her struggle was symbolized by how many buttons she wore on her uniform, which her manager referred to as "pieces of flair." She wore the bare minimum, and when she is pressed for the final time to add more, she triumphantly flips her boss the bird and walks out.
Much like Joanna, I finally walked out of my job working at a popular chain restaurant and morphed into Peter, the aggrieved and resentful employee at a tech firm that Office Space revolves around.
One of my new co-workers would quote lines from the movie as I separated documents with goldenrod construction paper. Not yellow, goldenrod. There was a red Swingline stapler on my desk that would launch us into awful impressions of Milton, the office weirdo who never gets respect. I'd have to report to five different supervisors, one who spoke in the same tone as the bespectacled and annoying Bill Lumbergh, played to perfection by Gary Cole.
Mike Judge so perfectly catches the mundane culture of office life that once I started to live it I finally appreciated the movie. It also helped that Comedy Central would play it over and over again, forcing it down bored twenty-somethings throats like a TPS Report coversheet.
The cult classic has inspired countless imitators and television shows. It proved how an audience for a film can be built over time through DVD and television. Sixteen years later, Judge is doing it again with the HBO series Silicon Valley, creating characters I can identify and want to spend time with.
Did you like Office Space when it first came out?