Office Space - B-
Viewed February 20, 1999 at Lincoln Square

A film far too low-key for its own good; Office Space, despite a deadly-accurate satiric eye and a convincingly realistic cast, never really develops a comic momentum. Mike Judge has always been an acute observer of the absurd small details of everyday life, and his vision of the industrial-park-chain- restaurant-shopping-mall America in Office Space is laced with them from the jamming laser printer at the office ("What the fuck does PC Load Letter mean?") to the annoying cheeriness of TGI Friday waiters. It's helped by a well-chosen cast of mostly unknowns and TV supporting players, all of whom turn in wryly comic performances. Gary Cole, as the Bill Lundbergh, the vacuous VP of Initech; and Diedrich Bauer as our protagonist's construction-worker neighbor are particularly noteworthy. One's reminded of Dilbert, but without the caustic misanthropy that's at the heart of Scott Adams' strip.

Judge, however, still seems uncomfortable with the feature film format, and Office Space too often feels like an overdeveloped set of sketches. The film's obstinate plot (a half-baked embezzlement scam) never grabs hold and while Ron Livingston tries hard, his Peter Gibbons is too dull a fellow to serve as a rooting interest.