"We don't have a lot of time on this Earth! We weren't meant to spend it this way. Human beings were not meant to sit in little cubicles staring at computer screens all day, filling out useless forms and listening to eight different bosses drone on about mission statements."
— Peter Gibbons.
Heeeeey, Troper. What's happening? Yeah, I'm gonna need you to go ahead and describe ''Office Space'' here. If you could get that done by Monday, that'd be greeeeeaaaat. Mmkay?A comedy by Mike Judge, Office Space introduced us to the world of Initech, a soul-crushingly inane software company presided over by Bill Lumbergh, a soul-crushingly inane boss obsessed with TPS Reports — a soul-crushingly inane bit of paperwork — who is slowly driving employee Peter Gibbons out of his mind.Then Peter gets de-stressed by a dose of hypnotherapy and stops caring about his job. Soon after that, some outside consultants interview him, trying to find people to lay off. Instead of puffing up his importance, Peter tells them exactly how the bloated bureaucracy of the company stops him from ever doing anything. The consultants, of course, take this as sheer brilliance. Peter is fast-tracked for a promotion, but also discovers that two of his only friends, Michael and Samir, are going to be getting the axe. When he shares the news, the three decide to do the only logical thing — rob the company.They come up with A Simple Plan, but fail to notice a few very important details, and everything starts to spiral out of control.
Office Space contains examples of:
Adaptation Expansion: Of the "Milton" animated shorts Mike Judge did for MTV's Liquid Television in the early 1990s, from which the characters of Milton and Lumbergh (who was unnamed at the time) were taken. The bit where Milton's stapler is taken away was lifted wholesale from the first short, and dialogue from the last two shorts (Milton being moved to the basement and being asked to take care of the cockroaches, respectively) was also used. For those who remember these shorts, it is ridiculously satisfying to see Milton finally burn down the building (and, in a deleted scene, kill Lumbergh) after having promised to do both for almost a decade.
All There in the Manual: In the movie it's never revealed what the "TPS" in TPS Reports stands for. But in the DVD extras it's revealed that it stands for "Totally Pointless Shit" and it's a reference to all the pointless, tedious paperwork that office workers have to deal with.
In reality, it stands for "Testing Procedure Specification" and is used extensively in high-end, IEEE compliant software and electrical engineering firms - like Initech. And would most likely be completely useless to Lumbergh, since he's not involved with QA.
Which only further demonstrates what a Jerk Ass Lumbergh is.
That was actually true at the time the movie was released as well.
Word of God is the studio insisted Judge hire Aniston specifically so they'd have someone (anyone) famous for the ad campaign. He agreed because he thought she was right for the part and did a good job playing it but the studio wouldn't have cared either way.
Bowdlerization: The redubs of swearing for network TV are truly terrible. They say "deep slime" instead of "deep shit" and "pound me into ash" instead of "pound me in the ass".
And Samir's incoherent swearing ("This is a fuck!") is changed into the equally incoherent "This is a suck!"
On Comedy Central, swearing is muted out, and the profanity in the rap songs are played backwards, creating very obvious skips in the beat.
Buffy Speak: Joanna rants that Peter has become a "penny-stealing wannabe criminal man!"
Butt Monkey: Milton. He is told to move his desk around at least three times a week. It turns out he was laid off five years prior to the film, but no one ever told him and the payroll was never updated, meaning he kept getting a paycheck. Lumbergh decides not only to continue not telling him about his lack of employment but cut him from payroll and move him to the basement. All the while Milton keeps coming in, wondering about his missing paycheck, and Lumbergh keeps on being an ass to him and not telling him any of the above.
Peter sees himself as the butt monkey, claiming that every day is the worst day of his life because every day since he's started working has managed to be even worse than the one before it.
Ceiling Banger: Peter and Lawrence's apartment walls are not very thick.
Chekhov's Gun: Subverted: The hypnotist dies before snapping his fingers, suggesting that Peter will return to normal after hearing a snap. This never happens, and he stays in his relaxed state until the effect wears off on its own.
Coitus Uninterruptus: In Peter's nightmare, Lumbergh is having sex with Joanna while holding a cup of coffee, and then he turns to the camera and says, "Oh, hello Peter. What's happening? Uh, could you give me those TPS reports ASAP? Mmmkay?"
Comedic Sociopathy: Fraud, embezzlement, and arson have never been so funny. Lampshaded by Joanna when she tells Peter off for thinking he's entitled to engage in antisocial behavior just because he doesn't like his job.
A minor Running Gag early on is various characters missing the point of the "What would you do if you had a million dollars?" exercise, talking about what they would do with the money rather than what they would do with their lives when money is no longer a concern.
Subverted when the Peter and his friends have to deal with the fallout of their crime, and Michael Bolton rants about "stupid neanderthal Mafia guys [being] so good at crime, when smart guys like us can suck so badly at it."
Description Cut: The morning after Peter, Michael, and Samir celebrate having put their plan into action, Johanna remarks on the mess and wonders what the celebration was about, Peter replying that he's not at liberty to talk about it. Cut to Peter telling her everything.
Fail O Sucky Name: Played twice with Samir Nagheenanajar note Naga...naga....not gonna work here anymore! and, of course, Michael Bolton:
Samir: No one in this country can ever pronounce my name right. It's not that hard: Na-ghee-na-na-jar. Nagheenanajar. Michael Bolton: Yeah, well, at least your name isn't Michael Bolton. Samir: You know, there's nothing wrong with that name. Michael Bolton: There was nothing wrong with it until I was about twelve years old and that no-talent ass clown became famous and started winning Grammys. Samir: Hmm well, why don't you just go by Mike instead of Michael? Michael Bolton:No way! Why should I change? He's the one who sucks!
Fictional Counterpart: Chotchkie's, the casual dining restaurant where Joanna works as a waitress, is based on T.G.I. Friday's. Rumor has it that after Office Space was released, T.G.I. Friday's quietly removed the part of their dress code requiring employees to wear a certain amount of "flair" on their uniforms.
Foe Cooties: Peter is horrified when he mistakenly thinks that Joanna had had sex with his boss, Bill Lumburgh, before meeting him.
When Tom Smykowski is asked by the Bobs what exactly he does at Initech, he becomes increasingly agitated as he tries to convince them he has good people skills.
Kicking off the plot, Anne makes Peter see an occupational hypnotherapist. The very next morning, she gets pissed off with him when he's left in a permanent carefree state, and tells him that she won't accept hypnosis as an excuse since she thinks it's bullshit.
Joanna's boss at Chotchkie's wants her to "express herself" by wearing more flair to conform to the restaurant's motif.
The woman who unctuously orders Milton to pass on his piece of cake because "we have to make sure everyone gets some" is nevertheless very quick to make sure she gets a piece (inevitably at Milton's expense).
When Peter realizes that Michael's program is taking far more money than they intended, he and Samir take turns yelling at him over it, until Michael points out that the plan was Peter's idea. Peter quickly suggests that they avoid getting angry at each other in favor of figuring out how to deal with the problem.
I Knew It: In-universe: Peter's coworker Tom Smykowski fears he's gonna get laid off for sure. And he was right. He's going to kill himself, then seeing his wife makes him decide otherwise then he's hit by a drunk driver, but the settlement money means he's set for life.
Peter suspects his girlfriend Anne is cheating on him. When Peter hung up on her, she calls and tells him he embarrassed her for just sitting there while the psychiatrist is on the floor as a result of being hypnotized, she called again, more pissed off, and tells him he's a real loser and broke up with him. She ends her call saying she was cheating on him. Of course, at that point Peter, still hypnotized, doesn't give a damn.
Why, they were updating bank software for Y2K, of course.
This might be missed by a lot of people since the movie referred to it as the "Year 2000 Problem," which is what it was called in computing circles before the Media got their hands on it. This was most likely intentionally done to make Peter's job sound all the more boring. And of course, in spite of the panic the Media stirred up over the event, Y2K was essentially an incredibly boring bit of debugging.
Inventor of the Mundane: Tom Smykowski uses the settlement from a car accident to fund the invention of his "Jump to Conclusions" mat ("Have a problem? Just take out the mat and jump to a conclusion!").
Jerkass: Joanna's co-worker Brian, an annoyingly, insincerely cheerful git whom their boss admires because he has more flair. Near the end, he flips Joanna off (mocking at how she got herself fired) and drives off laughing.
Joanna:(teeth clenching) I hate that guy.
Lumbergh too, of course.
Karma Houdini: All of the protagonists in that they get away with their attempted crime (although they also lose the money), but most notably Milton. He gets sick of his job and burns the place down, in the process finding thousands of dollars lying on the floor and escaping to a tropical resort. Subverted somewhat in that he seems to be equally miserable when he gets there.
Or maybe Milton was Initech's (or just Lumbergh's) karma. Their treatment of him was downright illegal.
Kick the Dog: Whenever you might start to think that Lumbergh is just a guy trying to do his job in a company that happens to be bogged down with stupid and inane policies, he starts kicking Milton around for no apparent reason other than because he can. When he finds out that Milton technically doesn't have a job at Initech, he gets even worse, seemingly going out of his way to think of new ways to demean the guy while deliberately withholding the information that Milton's "missing" paycheck doesn't exist and never will again, cementing for the audience that he's every bit the soulless monster his employees consider him to be.
Kill It with Fire: If you take his his s-s-stapler he'll, he'll, he could he'll set the building on fire.
Lame Comeback: After Joanna (rightly) calls Peter a petty criminal, he clumsily retorts with "That may be... but at least I never slept with Lumbergh!"
Let The Past Burn: Milton burns down the Initech building in revenge for the company's shabby treatment of him, in the process destroying Peter's letter of confession about embezzling money from the company. Everyone just assumes the arsonist was also the embezzler (and he does end up with the money in any case), and Peter gets off scot-free... and finds a new job in the field of construction, where one of his projects is cleaning up the remains of the building.
MacGuffin: The stapler is used as motivation for Milton in the film, but it doesn't see much use as a stapler.
He might genuinely believe that never raising your voice is all it takes to be considered "nice" by the rules of divine judgment.
Managers speaking in measured tones, using a lot of euphemisms & buzzwords, and acting passive-aggressively is often Truth in Television.
Misplaced a Decimal Point: The cause of the plan's failure was Michael misplacing a decimal point, apparently. This results in far too much money being siphoned off. He claims that he always makes these kind of mistakes.
Named Like My Name: Michael Bolton. "Why should I have to change my name? He's the one that sucks!"
Peter: When you come in on Monday and you're not feeling real well, does anyone ever say to you, "Sounds like someone has a case of the Mondays"? Lawrence: No No! Shit, no, man. I believe you'd get your ass kicked saying something like that, man.
The Nineties: Between the out of date technology, the mentions of the Y2K bug and the gangsta rap soundtrack, the 90s are are on full display here.
Obfuscating Stupidity: The magazine salesman who pretends to be a former crack addict to elicit sympathy. Peter, Michael, and Samir start asking him questions about money laundering, and he finally admits that he's not a former crack addict and used to be a computer programmer until he was laid off (although he now makes more money selling magazines). He then blackmails Peter into buying 40 subscriptions to Vibe because he knows about their plan to steal.
Self-Fulfilling Prophecy: Tom's belief that he was going to be fired. Since he apparently spent more time worrying about getting fired than preparing for the interview that he knew was coming, he was already a bundle of frayed nerves by the time he was in front of the Bobs, and falls apart after just a couple questions that really shouldn't have been that hard to answer. As a result, the Bobs assume he has no useful job there, and can him.
Mike Judge's later work Extract also touches on several of the same themes of a put-upon guy trapped in an unsatisfying working and personal life at a small business, except this time it's shown from the perspective of the boss instead of the employee. Incidentally, Extract features Jason Bateman, who was also in Horrible Bosses.
Static Electricity: Peter gets a static shock from the door handle every day when he comes into work, and has grown to dread it. One way he illustrates his new in-control self is that he walks into work, borrows a power screwdriver from a maintenance worker and casually removes the handle.
Tempting Fate: Michael's interview with the Bobs is actually going very well... until he subtly lets it slip that he doesn't want to be associated with the singer of the same name. Unfortunately for him, the twin consultants are huge Michael Bolton fans and get him laid off as a result of this faux pas (despite the fact that he's technically one of Initech's best and most valuable programmers).
And of course they find out that Milton doesn't even have a job at Initech.
What the Hell, Hero?: Joanna gives one of these to Peter late in the film, informing him that it's not okay to commit embezzlement just because you hate your job.
White Collar Crime: The second half of the movie revolves around an attempt at it, though the protagonists aren't very good at it (they look up money laundering in the dictionary for starters), which is lampshaded by Michael:
Michael: "How is that all these stupid, Neanderthal mafia guys can be so good at crime, and smart guys like us can suck so badly?"
White Collar Worker: The characters are mostly computer programmers. In the end, though, Peter gets a blue collar job doing construction with Lawrence(ironically cleaning up the burnt wreckage of Initech) and is much happier.
Your Cheating Heart: Peter's girlfriend. Peter suspects it already, Michael and Lawrence agree with his suspicions, and after Peter stops caring about anything, she dumps him and admits that she's been cheating on him, not that he even cares anymore.