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Tuesday, September 22, 2009

OFFICE SPACE (1999)

After three feature films (OFFICE SPACE, IDIOCRACY/’06, EXTRACT/’09), Mike Judge has yet to approach the success of his animated series (KING OF THE HILL, BEAVIS & BUTT-HEAD). And while this uninspired office-life comic caper has acquired a sizable cult following on DVD, Judge’s script & megging lag far behind the rich comedy veins mined by THE OFFICE and it’s international iterations or earlier shows like the scabrous duo of the Australian FRONTLINE or the astonishingly nasty THE NEWSROOM from Canada. Judge makes the safe commercial decision of asking us to identify with the blandly likable Ron Livingston as his lead which turns all the office politics into a game of ‘us’ vs ‘them.’ The original British version of THE OFFICE made you squirm as well as laugh at the ghastly commonplace horrors of dead-end office jobs largely by forcing the viewer to identify with the mortifyingly horrible boss, Ricky Gervaise. Some scenes were so laughably painful to sit thru that you had to turn away from the screen. By comparison, OFFICE SPACE, especially with its cop-out ending, plays like an after-thought, a writing exercise, a contract perk. Disappointing stuff.

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