I just re-watched Office Space for at least the 77th time. While released 17 years ago, the film still resonates today because it is relatable and is about everyday life in America, i.e., our office life. Yes, there are some unrealistic things in the film (the hypnosis, the (spoiler alert) fire, how awesome Jennifer Anniston’s character is), but most of the film nails the drudgery of American office life. Roger Ebert recognized this in his review by calling it “…a comic cry of rage against the nightmare of modern office life.”
If the films Wall Street and The Wolf of Wall Street are primarily cautionary tales about the perils of the 1%-ers and films like The Grapes of Wrath and other films address poverty (approximately 15% of the United States), then Office Space is about the other 84% of us, i.e., the Middle Class. Topics the film addresses that ring true today are escapism, the obsolescence of certain jobs, efficiency consultants, bureaucracy and upper management, failed leadership, software glitches, loss of youth and dreams and paranoia of job loss.
One of the many things the film does well is its realistic portrayal of the quintessential office weirdos: co-workers with annoying voices, with borderline disorders or that are nihilists, perverse or jealous. Office Space also does something that I am not sure any movie has done since (especially in our post-9/11 world): prominently include a funny, sympathetic (presumably) Muslim character who is as pathetic and relatable as everyone else in the movie. Samir Naheenanajar, is perhaps the most difficult character to pronounce in movie history. He also seems to be the least jaded and most hopeful of characters, perhaps because he knows how much better we have it here in the United States than in other countries. Which is a dose of reality that should help ease swallowing the bitter pill of office drudgery.
For a political analysis of Office Space check out Work Sucks: How the Movie “Office Space” Proves Radicalism Lives in the Mainstream.