What parents need to know
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that this dark-humor movie is from the mind of "Beavis and Butthead" creator, Mike Judge, and some teens will think it's likewise targeted at them. However, the subject matter of the movie -- dead-end jobs in banal suburban "campuses" with aggravating bosses --makes it more appropriate for young adults who themselves are in their first office jobs. The movie depicts stealing and implied arson. There is strong language, sexual references, and jealous fantasies. A character celebrates a horrific injury, there is an on-screen medical emergency, characters act illegally, and a mistreated character takes drastic revenge.
What's the story?
Peter (Ron Livingston) passively despises his job, his insufferable boss Lumbergh (Gary Cole), and the small gray cubicle where he spends most of his waking life. When he undergoes hypnosis, he loses his fear of what other people think about him, and his nonchalance frees him to change his life. He asks out the attractive waitress Joanna (Jennifer Anniston) and he stops taking work so seriously. When consultants are brought in to fire many of the company's employees, Peter teams up with colleagues Samir (Ajay Naidu) and Michael (David Herman) to hatch a plan for defrauding the company of its petty change. Meanwhile, mumbling Milton (scene-stealing Stephen Root) is reaching the end of his tether and, if pushed, his actions might change everything.
Is it any good?
Ask 20- or 30-somethings about this hilarious comedy and you will be deluged by movie quotes, references, and the term "a cubicle classic." Most people who have worked in an office will agree that individual scenes in this movie are among the most humorous exposés of cubicle life ever put on screen. While teens will certainly get the jokes, they probably won't identify with the situations as much as a young adult who has experienced office life.
There is no doubt that creator/director Mike Judge has an uncanny eye for revealing the humorous realities and hypocrisies of office life. The banal and often inexplicable tasks that people do as well as the defeating weight of bureaucracy are mocked with dead-pan humor in a series of interviews between employees and the consultants. While some parents might find the end scenes problematic, the sketches that comprise the bulk of the movie are painfully funny observations on office life that will leave many saying "too true, too true". Still, given the language and sex here, this movie is best for older teens and up.
Families can talk about...
Families can talk about the sources of humor that this movie draws from, including the stereotypes of different office types (the Pollyanna, the self-important boss, etc.), the hallmarks of suburban culture such as the restaurant where "flair" is required, and the venting of frustrations on a piece of office equipment. If you were hypnotized to not care about what other people thought, would you act differently?