Office Space

For other uses, see Office space planning.
Office Space

Theatrical release poster
Directed by Mike Judge
Produced by
Screenplay by Mike Judge
Based on Milton
by Mike Judge
Music by John Frizzell
Cinematography Tim Suhrstedt
Edited by David Rennie
Distributed by 20th Century Fox
Release dates
  • February 19, 1999 (1999-02-19)
Running time
89 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $10 million
Box office $12.8 million[1]

Office Space is a 1999 American comedy film written and directed by Mike Judge.[2] It satirizes the everyday work life of a typical mid-to-late-1990s software company, focusing on a handful of individuals fed up with their jobs. It stars Ron Livingston, Jennifer Aniston, Gary Cole, Stephen Root, David Herman, Ajay Naidu, and Diedrich Bader.[3]

Shot in Dallas and Austin, Texas, Office Space is based on Judge's Milton cartoon series. It was his first foray into live-action filmmaking and second full-length motion picture release, after Beavis and Butt-Head Do America.

The film's sympathetic depiction of ordinary IT workers garnered a cult following within that field, but also addresses themes familiar to white-collar employees and the workforce in general. Although not a big success at the box office, making $12.8 million against a $10 million budget, the film was well received by critics and sold well on home video, and has become a cult film.[4]


Peter Gibbons, a programmer at a company called Initech, is frustrated and unmotivated at his job. His co-workers include Samir Nagheenanajar and Michael Bolton, also programmers, and Milton Waddams, a meek collator who is mostly ignored by the rest of the office. The staff is constantly mistreated by management – especially by Initech's smarmy, callous vice president, Bill Lumbergh, who Peter loathes – and is further agitated by the arrival of two consultants, Bob Slydell and Bob Porter, who are brought in to help the company through downsizing and outsourcing.

Peter's girlfriend, Anne, persuades him to attend an occupational hypnotherapy session, but the therapist, Dr. Swanson, dies of a heart attack right after hypnotizing Peter. Peter wakes up the next morning newly relaxed, and ignores repeated phone calls both from Anne, who responds by angrily breaking up with him and admitting she has been cheating on him, confirming his friends' suspicions, and from Lumbergh, who had been expecting Peter to work over the weekend. The following workday, Peter decides to skip work and asks Joanna, a waitress at Chotchkie's, a nearby chain restaurant, out to lunch. Joanna and Peter bond over their shared loathing of idiotic management and love of the television series Kung Fu.

When Peter finally shows up at work, he casually disregards office protocol, including violating Initech's dress code, taking Lumbergh's reserved parking spot, refusing to follow Lumbergh's directions, and removing a cubicle wall that blocks his view out the window. The consultants, however, are impressed by his frank insights into the office's problems, and decide to promote him. They also confide that Michael and Samir's jobs will be eliminated, and when Peter relays this news to them, the trio decide to get even by infecting Initech's accounting system with a computer virus designed to divert fractions of pennies into a bank account they control, transactions they believe are small enough to avoid detection, but which over time will result in a substantial amount of money. On Michael and Samir's last day at Initech, Peter takes one last item: a frequently malfunctioning printer, which the three take to a field and smash to pieces to vent their frustration.

At a barbecue, Peter learns that Joanna had previously slept with a colleague, identified as "Lumbergh." Assuming it to be his boss, he becomes disgusted with Joanna, and after she questions his financial scheme, confronts her, and the two split up. He then discovers that a bug in Michael's code has caused their virus to steal over $300,000 in only a few days, which is far more conspicuous to the company; Michael put the decimal point in the wrong place. Peter admits to Joanna – who has finally stood up to her boss at Chotchkie's and quit, and whom Peter has discovered had in fact slept with a different "Lumbergh" – that the scheme was a bad idea and plans to accept responsibility for the crime. He writes a letter confessing everything and slips it and anonymous checks for the stolen money under the door of Lumbergh's office late at night. The next morning, Milton – who has become more and more disgruntled at his treatment by management, to the point that he has mumbled threats about setting the building on fire – enters Lumbergh's office to reclaim a stapler that was taken from him.

Fully expecting to be arrested upon arriving at work, Peter instead finds that his problem has solved itself: the Initech building is engulfed in flames, and all evidence of the missing money has been destroyed. Peter finally finds a job that he likes: doing construction work with his next-door neighbor, Lawrence. Samir and Michael both get jobs at Initech's competitor, Initrode. Meanwhile, Milton lounges on the beach at a fancy Mexican resort, complaining about his beverage and threatening to take his business to a competitor.




Shot primarily in Austin, Texas, Office Space has its origins in a series of four animated short films entitled Milton, about an office drone named Milton that Judge created, which first aired on Liquid Television and Night After Night with Allan Havey, and later aired on Saturday Night Live.[5] The inspiration came from a temp job he once had that involved alphabetizing purchase orders[6] and a job he had as an engineer for three months in the Bay Area during the 1980s, "just in the heart of Silicon Valley and in the middle of that overachiever yuppie thing, it was just awful".[7]

The setting of the film reflected a prevailing trend that Judge observed in the United States. "It seems like every city now has these identical office parks with identical adjoining chain restaurants", he said in an interview.[5] He remembers, "There were a lot of people who wanted me to set this movie in Wall Street, or like the movie Brazil, but I wanted it very unglamorous, the kind of bleak work situation like I was in".[6]

Judge sold the film to 20th Century Fox based on his script and a cast that included Jennifer Aniston, Ron Livingston, and David Herman.[5] Originally, the studio wanted to make a film out of the Milton character but Judge was not interested, opting instead to make more of an ensemble cast–based film.[7] The studio suggested he make a movie like Car Wash but "just set in an office".[7] Judge made the relatively painless transition from animation to live-action with the help of the film's director of photography who taught him about lenses and where to put the camera. Judge says, "I had a great crew, and it's good going into it not pretending you're an expert".[6] Studio executives were not happy with the footage Judge was getting. He remembers them telling him, "More energy! More energy! We gotta reshoot it! You're failing! You're failing!"[8] In addition, Fox did not like the gangsta rap music used in the film until a focus group approved of it. Judge hated the ending and felt that a complete rewrite of the third act was necessary.[8]

Film poster

Judge also hated the poster that the studio created for Office Space (which portrayed an office worker completely covered in Post-it notes). He said, "People were like, 'What is this? A big bird? A mummy? A beekeeper?' And the tagline 'Work Sucks'? It looked like an Office Depot ad. I just hated it. I hated the trailers, too and the TV ads especially".[8] Fox Filmed Entertainment chairman Tom Rothman conceded that the marketing campaign did not work and said, "Office Space isn't like American Pie. It doesn't have the kind of jokes you put in a 15-second television spot of somebody getting hit on the head with a frying pan. It's sly. And let me tell you, sly is hard to sell".[8]


Box office

Office Space was released on February 19, 1999 in 1,740 theatres, grossing USD$4,231,727 on its opening weekend. It went on to make $10,827,810 in North America.[9] In addition to this gross, $2 million was made internationally,[10] 6 million copies in DVD, Blu-ray Disc and VHS sales[10] since February 12, 2006.[11]

Critical response

Office Space received positive reviews from critics.[8] On Rotten Tomatoes, the film has a 79% "Certified Fresh" rating, based on 96 reviews, with an average rating of 6.8/10. The site's critical consensus reads, "Mike Judge lampoons the office grind with its inspired mix of sharp dialogue and witty one-liners."[12] Metacritic reports a score of 68 out of 100, based on 30 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews".[13]

In his review in The New York Times, Stephen Holden wrote, "It has the loose-jointed feel of a bunch of sketches packed together into a narrative that doesn't gather much momentum."[14] Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times gave the film three out of four stars and wrote that Judge "treats his characters a little like cartoon creatures. That works. Nuances of behavior are not necessary, because in the cubicle world every personality trait is magnified, and the captives stagger forth like grotesques".[15] In his review for the San Francisco Chronicle, Mick LaSalle writes, "Livingston is nicely cast as Peter, a young guy whose imagination and capacity for happiness are the very things making him miserable."[16] In USA Today, Susan Wloszczyna wrote, "If you've ever had a job, you'll be amused by this paean to peons."[17]

However, Owen Gleiberman in Entertainment Weekly gave the film a "C" rating and criticized it for feeling "cramped and underimagined".[18] In his review for the Globe and Mail, Rick Groen wrote, "Perhaps his TV background makes him unaccustomed to the demands of a feature-length script (the ending seems almost panicky in its abruptness), or maybe he just succumbs to the lure of the easy yuk...what began as discomfiting satire soon devolves into silly farce."[19]

In 2008, Entertainment Weekly named Office Space one of "The 100 best films from 1983 to 2008", ranking it at #73.[20]


Cult status

Office Space has become a cult classic, selling well on home video and DVD.[4] As of 2003, it had sold 2.6 million copies on VHS and DVD.[21] In the same year, it was in the top 20 best-selling Fox DVDs along with There's Something About Mary.[22]

Entertainment Weekly ranked it fifth on its list "25 Great Comedies From the Past 25 Years", despite having originally given the film a poor review.[23]

On February 8, 2009, a reunion of many of the cast members took place at the Paramount Theatre in Austin to celebrate the tenth anniversary of the film, which included the destruction of a printer on the sidewalk.[24]

During the 2016 presidential campaign, a scene from the film was spoofed in a political advertisement, which was run by Ted Cruz mocking Hillary Clinton over her wiped personal email server. The ad spoofs the scene where the office workers destroy their malfunctioning printer.[25][26]


Comedy Central premiered Office Space on August 5, 2001 and 1.4 million viewers tuned in. By 2003, the channel had broadcast the film another 35 times.[22] These broadcasts helped develop the film's cult following and Ron Livingston remembers being approached by college students and office workers. He said, "I get a lot of people who say, 'I quit my job because of you.' That's kind of a heavy load to carry."[22] People approached Stephen Root asking him to sign their staplers. The Red Swingline stapler featured prominently in the film was not available until April 2002 when the company released it in response to repeated requests by fans of the film. Its appearance in the film was achieved by taking a standard Swingline stapler and spray-painting it red.[22]


Office Space: Motion Picture Soundtrack
Soundtrack album by various artists
Released February 18, 1999
Genre Hip hop, Rap
Length 44:35
Label Interscope
Professional ratings
Review scores
Track listing
No. TitleWriter(s)Performer(s) Length
1. "Shove This Jay-Oh-Bee" (contains portions of "Take This Job and Shove It" by Johnny Paycheck, 1977)Canibus, Salaam Remi,
David Allan Coe
Canibus with Biz Markie 4:21
2. "Get Dis Money"  T3, Baatin, Jay DeeSlum Village 3:36
3. "Get Off My Elevator"  Kool Keith, KutMasta KurtKool Keith 3:46
4. "Big Boss Man" (cover of Jimmy Reed, 1960)Luther Dixon, Al SmithJunior Reid 3:46
5. "9-5" (Cover of Dolly Parton, 1980)Dolly PartonLisa Stone 3:40
6. "Down for Whatever" (from Lethal Injection, 1993)Ice Cube, Madness 4 RealIce Cube 4:40
7. "Damn It Feels Good to Be a Gangsta" (from Uncut Dope: Geto Boys' Best, 1992)Scarface, John Okuribido,
James Prince
Geto Boys 5:09
8. "Home"  Benny Wise, C. Hernandez, N. Vasquez, John ForteBlackman, Destruct & Icon 4:22
9. "No Tears" (from The Diary, 1994)Scarface, N.O. JoeScarface 2:27
10. "Still" (from The Resurrection, 1996)Willie D, Scarface, N.O JoeGeto Boys 4:03
11. "Mambo #8" (from Pérez Prado Plays Mucho Mambo For Dancing, 1952)PradoPerez Prado 2:06
12. "Peanut Vendor" (from Havana, 3 A.M., 1956)Moises SimonsPerez Prado 2:39

See also


  1. "Office Space - Summary". The Numbers. Retrieved 2013-12-15.
  2. "Office Space". AllMovie.
  3. Kevin Thomas (February 19, 1999). "'Office' Puts Corporate Culture Through the Comedy Shredder". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved April 14, 2015.
  4. 1 2 Doty, Meriah (March 4, 2003). "Film flops flourish on DVD, VHS". CNN. Retrieved 2008-09-18.
  5. 1 2 3 Fierman, Daniel (February 26, 1999). "Judge's Dread". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved 2007-08-16.
  6. 1 2 3 Beale, Lewis (February 21, 1999). "Mr. Beavis Goes to Work". New York Daily News. Retrieved 2013-05-03.
  7. 1 2 3 Sherman, Paul (February 21, 1999). "Humorist is a good Judge of office angst". Boston Herald.
  8. 1 2 3 4 5 Valby, Karen (May 23, 2003). "The Fax of Life". Entertainment Weekly. p. 41. Retrieved 2008-12-05.
  9. "Office Space". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 2008-09-18.
  10. 1 2 "Office Space". Retrieved December 27, 2011.
  11. "Office Space - DVD sales". Retrieved December 27, 2011.
  12. Office Space at Rotten Tomatoes
  13. Office Space at Metacritic
  14. Holden, Stephen (February 19, 1999). "Film Review; One Big Happy Family? No, Not At This Company". The New York Times. Retrieved 2013-05-03.
  15. Ebert, Roger (February 19, 1999). "Office Space". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved 2008-09-18.
  16. LaSalle, Mick (February 19, 1999). "Workers' Souls Lost In Space". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved 2008-09-18.
  17. Wioszczyna, Susan (February 19, 1999). "No Frills Office Party". USA Today. p. 13.E. Retrieved 2013-05-11 via Proquest Archiver.(subscription required)
  18. Gleiberman, Owen (March 5, 1999). "Office Space". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved 2008-09-18.
  19. Groen, Rick (February 19, 1999). "Workplace satire almost does the job". Globe and Mail. Toronto. Archived from the original on 2009-01-16. Retrieved 2008-09-18.
  20. "The New Classics: Movies". Entertainment Weekly (999-1000). June 16, 2008. Retrieved 2013-05-03.
  21. Valby 2003, p. 39.
  22. 1 2 3 4 Valby 2003, p. 42.
  23. "The Comedy 25: The Funniest Movies of the Past 25 Years". Entertainment Weekly. August 27, 2008. Retrieved 2008-08-27.
  24. ""Office Space" Turns 10". KTBC. February 8, 2009. Archived from the original on 2009-02-11. Retrieved 2013-05-11.
  25. Krieg, Gregory (12 February 2016). "Cruz mocks Clinton email controversy with 'Office Space' spoof ad". CNN. Retrieved 27 March 2016.
  26. "New Ted Cruz Ad Spoofs "Office Space" In Clinton Server Attack". RealClear Politics. 12 February 2016. Retrieved 27 March 2016.
  27. Bregman, Adam. Office Space at AllMusic. Retrieved January 30, 2012.
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