Office Space is the definitive film that skewers corporate banality. As it turns 20 this month, re-watching it reveals how much office culture has changed – and how much it hasn’t.
The film, directed and written by Mike Judge, follows Peter Gibbons (Ron Livingston), a young software engineer at the generically named firm Initech. He’s underpaid, undermined and frustrated, and his job dissatisfaction eventually spurs him to lead a rebellion against his supervisors and corporate America.
The revolt culminates in a cathartic smashing of a widely-despised office printer in the middle of a field with his colleagues, followed by an attempt to steal hundreds of thousands of dollars from the company by hacking into its bank accounts with a computer virus.
The film’s message – summed up near the end by Peter’s girlfriend, Joanna (Jennifer Aniston), who also hates her waitressing job – is clear: “Peter, most people don’t like their jobs. But you go out there and you find something that makes you happy.”
Since Office Space was released in 1999, we’ve grown more aware of the absurd and dreaded aspects of office life. But how successful have we actually been in stamping them out? And do we have Office Space to thank?