Space: Special Edition with Flair!
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.
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
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.