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Office Space

review by Chad P.

 

Rated: R

Running Time: 90 minutes

Starring: Ron Livingston, Gary Cole, Jennifer Aniston

Screenplay by: Mike Judge
Based on the "Milton" animated shorts by: Mike Judge

Directed by: Mike Judge

 

Studio: Fox

Retail Price: $19.95

Features: Theatrical Trailer

Specs: 1.85:1 Non-Anamorphic Widescreen, English Dolby Digital 5.1, English Dolby Surround, French Dolby Surround, English Subtitles, Spanish Subtitles, English Closed Captions, Scene Selections

Released: August 31st, 1999

 

 

...And so the story goes. "Office Space" is a cult hit, bust-a-gut laugh out loud escapism comedy. It's rare that a comedy film can ENTIRELY tear me (or anyone) from the harsh face of reality and, when finished, put me back into the real world without a care or sense of duty or obligation. Somehow, some way, writer/director Mike Judge has created a world boundless of care. Had the late Stanley Kubrick done such a film, I would fear for viewer sanity -- As plain and "happy" "Office Space" comes off as, its subjects are tortured souls, stuck in the mediocrity of mediocrities (their day job). This film deals with death, breaking up, being cheated on, being fired, federal "pound me in the ass" prison, and the possibility that your loved one once slept with your godforsaken evil boss. All of these elements are typical "serious" movie plot points, yet here it's built into a great escape. Quite frankly, no other movie has made me feel as free and alive since "The Shawshank Redemption" rocked my youth.

But there are flaws. Like every film, this one is no different.

*long, long pause*

"So? What's wrong with it, Chad?"

*longer pause*

Was I talking about something?

*pause*

OH! Right, the flaws...

Truth be told, I found the movie to be just "okay" the first time around. Nothing too grand. It wasn't until recently, when Comedy Central had thrown it onto the lineup, that I had an urge to watch it again. And watch it, I did. I've seen this film roughly eight times now, and I must say that I like it more and more with each viewing. Usually, with a comedy, I watch it once, laugh my arse off then gradually bore over it with more viewings. It's because "Office Space" contains something so uplifting, that it's really everlasting. I mean, only those living outside of western civilization would be unable to relate to this film in some way shape or form. This movie defined a generation of cubicle workers and technogeeks every bit as much as Nirvana redefined rock music. Thankfully, however, Courtney Love does not own the rights, and this film may grow with time --

Especially with news of a "special edition" coming out on dvd in the near future -- Things are only looking up.

Oh yeah...flaws...back on subject...

For some, Tim Suhrstedt's cinematography is too plain. Everything does have a boring, dull and dry look to it -- Exactly what you'd find at any cubicle center in America these days. For others, Mr. Suhrstedt isn't labeled ASC for nothing (that's American Society of Cinematographers for those who have always wondered -- It means they're established and respected). There's a reason it looks dry and dull like that, and it's exactly for the reason of looking like a typical day at work. Even without knowing where this was filmed, my first guesses would be New Mexico, Arizona, or Silicon Valley...which, if my mind serves me correct, is where most of these computer technogeeks places run out of anyway.

On other, more upbeat notes, the cast is fantastic. Ron Livingston hit the mark so perfectly that he may be typecast for the rest of his life (although, thankfully, three years later now he has been given a wide range of roles). I've never had a role model that has inspired me to sit around on my duff until Livingston came along. Same goes for the others: Jennifer Aniston, of course, is as striking as usual -- There are only a handful of actresses I could see in this role, and she does it perfectly. Gary Cole's performance as the hated Boss is so incredibly funny I can barely sit still just thinking about it. Kudos also to Samir Nayeenanajar and Michael Bolton (as played by Ajay Naidu and David Herman) -- For whatever reason, these two very main supporting actors are denied the credit they deserve (cherish them). And, of course, how can I go through this review without mentioning the sheepish Milton character, as brilliantly played by Newsradio cast member, Stephen Root. All the pieces of the puzzle fall into place here. I've even skipped a few very impressionable roles, but you'll know who they are when you see them.

The only problem is, you have to see it first. What are you waiting for?

 

 

This DVD is presented with a 1.85:1 non-anamorphic widescreen and unfortunately, the transfer that took place is about as clean as my computer screen (not clean at all). I wonder if they even tried to clean this print before capturing it for dvd. Several hairs and scratch marks appear throughout the film. There's nothing TOO horrible, and most of the scratches appear at the beginning and end of each new reel. In addition to that, viewers watching on a computer, or from a screen that cuts *nothing* off the top and sides -- You'll have to deal with little sprocket holes constantly flashing on the upper left hand corner of the screen. It's not particularly annoying, but damn, it's sad. (For those of you watching on a television and wondering what I'm refering to: Televisions will cut the sides and edges of each actual video frame. If you've ever wondered why sometimes you can't read every letter of a really long title stretched across the screen (even with widescreen presentation), it's because your TV is cutting it out.)

In this case, it's unfortunate that the viewer is subjected to such lack of care from the production house. 20th Century Fox, in my mind, has yet to even attempt making *every* DVD a *good* DVD. It's a sad, sad thing too -- Perhaps they should start putting more emphasis on their smaller titles, before they realize that they're losing too much respect from fans. I mean, how hard could it be to add something as trivial as a screenplay?

The remainder of the DVD is pretty crisp -- Not incredibly crisp, but clear enough to see everything we need to. I must have been the only fan of this movie NOT to see it in theaters, so my perception of the dry colors the film presents is acceptable. I'd wish there were a bit more contrast to each particular image, but then we'd have ended up with another David Fincheresque looking movie.

Overall, I think 20th Century Fox knew they'd be releasing a "special edition" of "Office Space" in the future, and jumped on the chance to capitalize upon it -- Hence, this cheap, featureless DVD.

 

Not that this is a particularly amazing sound film. Not enough happens to even test a set of speakers beyond what playing a cd might require. Dolby Surround and 5.1 Surround have been put to use here, and, truth to tell, it's hard to even tell their presence. Generally, there's nothing wrong with the audio throughout the film. There were no apparent *pops* or *buzzes* that caught my attention -- and it would appear that more attention was given to the DVD's audio than the video. "Office Space's" sound in general is fairly plain and common -- There's nothing "full" or "soundscapish" about it. Occasionally, there's an awkward change in volume, but, to be honest, I think it's just the actor's emphasis on a new sentence (specifically, I'm thinking of Bill Lumbergh's "Hawaiian shirt day" line, where his volume jumps. Again, I doubt it's a technical blunder.)

No real problems or qualities to announce.

 

Dudes and dudeettes, this DVD sucks. Of course, the film itself is brilliant, but when it comes to DVD special features, I find more pleasure in a unsolid bowel movements.

*quick regroup*

This disc offers the usual scene selections menu...as if it were something

beyond special. There is also the Theatrical Trailer and a "Cast" option -- the "Cast" option being 8 simple pictures of the cast, with no bios or anything -- It's probably the most pointless "special" feature I've ever run across.

*fart*

 

 

This movie is great. This DVD is not. Wait for the special edition release and pick that up instead.

What else can I say?