In honor of costar Ajay Naidu’s birthday, I thought I’d repost a piece on Mike Judge’s brilliant Office Space, which saw special edition re-release on DVD at the tail end of 2005, about nine months before 20th Century Fox would dump Judge's latest film, Idiocracy, like a bullet-riddled corpse from fast-moving van.
Cast one’s mind back, though. Mmmm, yeah… 1999 was a special year for cinema. There was just something in the pre-millennial air, and the number of achingly memorable releases from that year — from The Insider, American Beauty, Election and The Sixth Sense to Fight Club, The Blair Witch Project, The Straight Story and Magnolia — will forever denote it as a true heavyweight’s period. An utter gem that slipped under the radar, however, was Beavis & Butt-head creator Judge’s live action directorial debut. Criminally underrated upon its initial theatrical release, Office Space went on to become a word-of-mouth smash, particularly on home video.
The story, of course, centers on Peter Gibbons (a fantastic
Ron Livingston, above left), a tech industry corporate drone sick and tired of his job at a
computer software firm that serves as a stand-in for every faceless white
collar workplace in
The dialogue is rich, the details spot-on and the laugh-out-loud factor as high as in just about any comedy of the past decade. For all its surface thrill, though, Office Space isn’t a comedy just about the regurgitation of accumulated mundanities, it’s a comedy about authority and the searing resentment that its lazy application engenders (think Lumbergh’s passive-aggressive “yeeeeaaaaaah,” all translated, really, as “no”). Livingston is pitch-perfect as Peter, as are Herman, Naidu and a fine assortment of bit players, including Diedrich Bader, John C. McGinley, Richard Riehle, Orlando Jones and, of course, Stephen Root as the mumbling, thick-spectacled Milton.
Office Space’s zeitgeist-capturing brilliance as a film, though, doesn’t give it automatic sacred cow status on DVD, and truth be told this "special edition with flair" disappoints a bit. There's a collection of eight deleted scenes; mostly short bits and ends from sequences already in the movie, these include an extended conversation between Peter and Michael prior to his first meeting with the Bobs, and two snippets that reveal the fate of Lumbergh and introduce a construction foreman doppelganger, the latter of which was smartly excised. A half-hour retrospective includes interviews with Judge that highlight his observational prowess, as well as newer material with all the other primary cast members (yes, including Aniston). This stuff is great, but it’s all presented in such choppy fashion that, while often amusing, it doesn’t shine as much light on the creative process as possible. If Giant magazine can gather most of the cast for an extensive retrospective interview, as they did earlier this year, why can’t Fox do the same for this DVD?
Other than the theatrical trailer and DVD-ROM content, too,
that’s it as far as the extras. Why announced plans for other supplemental
material — including an audio commentary track from Judge, and the Saturday Night Live animated shorts that
first introduced the character of