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Category:    Home > Reviews > Comedy > Satire > Political > Office Space - Special Edition With Flair

Office Space: Special Edition with Flair!


Picture: B     Sound: B     Extras: B-     Film: A



The legacy of Office Space isn’t that it became a cult hit after a dismal box office showing.  Nor is it that it’s one of the funniest movies—and based in stark reality, at that—of the past 10 years.  No, there are two words that sum up Office Space in such a total way that no piece of extended writing or dialogue between moviegoers could ever hope to match it.


Missed. Opportunity.


Office Space, a film about the conditions of cubicle jockeys in turn-of-the-century America, is littered with missed opportunities, from its initial release to its most recent DVD release, an apparent “Special Edition—With Flair!”.  When the movie was released in 1999, it was missed by 99 percent of the people who now know it by heart.  Find someone who actually saw a first-run theatrical presentation and I’ll show you a thousand who discovered it on video.  The movie only made $10,824,921 at the box office, according to various sources — just enough to make back its ten million dollar budget but not enough to set the Hollywood community on fire.


This is an astounding event if for no other reason than that Mike Judge, the brain trust behind Beavis and Butthead, reviewed elsewhere on this site, was responsible for the film.  People should’ve flocked to theaters in droves.  But, perhaps, since the characters in the movie were live, not animated, and didn’t sit around like deadbeats complaining Office Space was a turn off.  Hearty blame must be leveled at a poor marketing campaign that failed to highlight the irreverence of the film in lieu of promoting Judge’s connection with Beavis and Butthead and (also reviewed elsewhere on this site) King of the Hill.


Let’s face it, before Office Space, no one has seen a film take such a biting look at conditions in office America.  The plight of Peter Gibbons (Ron Livingston), Michael Bolton (David Herman), Samir Nagheenanajar (Ajay Naidu), Milton (Stephen Root), Tom (Richard Riehle), and Joanna (Jennifer Aniston) suffered at the hands of their bosses, Bill Lumbergh (Gary Cole) and Stan (Mike Judge), and the two Bobs (John C. McGinley and Paul Willson), took a sledgehammer to the notion that Americans are happy with their crappy little jobs and patronizing, jerk-off bosses.  Sure, we’ve seen the Angry American at Work before (Man in the Gray Flannel Suit, (also reviewed on this site) et. al.), but Office Space was something else.  Who knew such humor could be found in the utter destruction of a printer?  What person on God’s green Earth could have imagined that the crimes perpetrated by Richard Pryor in Superman III could be used to such comic effect a decade-plus later?  A lot of people like to praise Ricky Gervais’ The Office as some landmark, groundbreaking entity.  The truth is, without Office Space there would be no The Office, on either side of the Atlantic.


It wasn’t until home video, though, that Office Space was finally discovered for the landmark comedy it was and exploded.  Videos and DVDs went flying off the shelves, and the rental market couldn’t keep it in stock.  In many ways, Office Space was a harbinger of things to come for movies: people staying at home rather than going to see an iffy-looking comedy (the trailer is atrocious, in case you haven’t seen it) and instead catching up with it at home.  This is a prevalent practice now, but six years ago was nearly unheard of.  So rather than do something with the property, like doing a limited release in major markets or the markets that were more apt to rent/buy the video and making it one of those midnight movie cult classic things like Rocky Horror Picture Show, Office Space languished away on a substandard DVD and poor VHS.


Talk swirled, though, of a sequel and an elaborate special edition DVD of the film, arriving with the original “Milton” cartoons that inspired the movie, Mike Judge commentary, and a host of other extras that the imagination couldn’t fathom.  And then Judge and Fox had a falling out because Judge claimed that making the film was the worst experience of his life.  Talk of the sequel ceased (thankfully) and the DVD seemed destined to be stuck in perpetual limbo.


So when it was announced that a new DVD was, indeed, making its way into consumers’ hands, fans rejoiced.  We would get everything we had hoped for from an Office Space special edition — a new, better transfer, those cartoons, commentaries, deleted scenes, and on and on.


But how foolish of fans of the movie to think that things would go right for “Office Space.”


The new Office Space disc does boast a new anamorphic transfer, giving most fans a presentation of the film better than any they’ve ever seen.  The disc sounds great, too.  The muted, sound-proof sterility of a cubicle dominated office has never sounded so thick and empty yet so full.


The initial and continued excitement for the disc was a result of the extras that might be found on it.  Unfortunately, it’s a letdown.


A trailer, deleted scenes (which neither add anything to the movie nor add to the film’s genius), a 30-minute retrospective documentary featuring Judge and many of the cast members (Jennifer Aniston is a notable if not unsurprising absence), and DVD-ROM content is all that’s here.  With Flair” this is not.


The documentary is interesting, but where’s the commentary?  The deleted scenes are of poor quality, even by VHS standards, and only one of them is remotely interesting — and it only last five seconds.  And that’s it.  Trailers shouldn’t count as extras by now but rather standard features, and DVD-ROM content is hardly an excuse to jump for joy.  What happened to this grand, two-disc package that fans have heard so much about?  Where are the original cartoons?  We get glimpses of them in the documentary, but nothing substantive.  And how cool would it have been to see a featurette with the people of Swingline talking about how this movie single-handedly forced into existence the red stapler Milton cherishes throughout the film?


Normally, any kind of upgrade of a lackluster DVD is a welcome addition to the library.  In this case, though, Office Space devotees have been shortchanged yet again.  It’s a fine package, that’s for sure, especially if you love the film — it couldn’t look or sound better on a regular, non-HD DVD package.  But for the immersive experience, it’s a lark.



-   Dante A. Ciampaglia


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