A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Office Space is a 1999 satire of the corporate office working life. 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's strong language, sexual references, and jealous fantasies. A character celebrates a horrific injury, there's an on-screen medical emergency, characters act illegally, and a mistreated character takes drastic revenge. There's frequent profanity, including characters saying "f--k," and montages accompanied by hip-hop songs with the "N" word and "f--k." Male characters talk of the sexual promiscuity of female characters. There's a brief shot of a nude woman on TV, and drinking and drunkenness. When the lead character asks his neighbor what he would want if he had a million dollars, the neighbor says that he'd want to have sex with two women at the same time.
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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 Aniston) 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 he's pushed, his actions might change everything.
Is it any good?
Ask 20- or 30-somethings about this hilarious comedy and you'll 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's 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 deadpan 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.
Talk to your kids 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 not to care about what other people thought, would you act differently?
How does this movie explore the idea of living the life you would like to live versus the practical realities of having to earn a living?
Years after its release, how has this movie held up? Is it still relevant? What aspects of it ground it in the time in which it was released?
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