Cinematic comedy, by its very nature, is a subjective genre. I will admit to not taking entirely to 'Office Space' because I've never worked in an office. I have precious little experience with the nine-to-five world, so while I can appreciate the film's imaginative writing and memorable characters -- and I admire its sheer smarts and wit -- I can't say that 'Office Space' struck a particularly resonant chord in me.
The story of 'Office Space' is well-known by the film's large cult audience. Our hero is office drone Peter Gibbons (Ron Livingston), who, like so many office workers, detests his job. He's got a thoroughly-obnoxious boss, Bill Lumbergh (a dead-on Gary Cole), a oddball girlfriend Anne (Alexandra Wentworth), and a pair of friends (David Herman, Ajay Naid) who commiserate with him at the local Chotchkie's restaurant (where they all hope to grab a peek at the hot waitress, played by Jennifer Aniston). The plot quickly shifts into gear after Peter is mentally liberated from the emotional shackles of his job by a hypnotherapist. Peter's new carefree attitude soon allows him to impress a group of consultants, and amazingly, puts him on the fastrack for a possible promotion. From there, things get too crazy to spoil.
Written and directed by Mike Judge (TV's "King of the Hill" and "Beavis & Butthead," and the underrated 'Idiocracy'), 'Office Space' ultimately works even for those who can't completely relate to its situations (like myself), because Judge is such a fine observer of human nature. As wacky as some of his scenarios and characters can get, there is always some nugget of truth to every narrative movement. Judge also fully imagines his world, creating a recognizable universe that seamlessly combines production design, props, locations and costuming, so that even if somewhat heightened, the details of Judge's vision feel real and true.
You office nerds in the audience will certainly enjoy all of Judge's crafty touches, and his obvious innate understanding of the modern (er, late-'90s) workplace. I liked how he managed to integrate Y2K hysteria, new age psychobabble, bad office fashion, calculator wristwatches, and the use of the color white (really, isn't it symbolic that cubicles resemble the padded walls of mental institutions?) into the texture and fabric of his story. Combined with the fine performances by Livingston, Cole, John C. McGinley (as one of the consultants) and even Aniston (who usually blanks out on-screen for me), 'Office Space' feels authentic even in its surreality.
How much you connect with 'Office Space,' however, will undoubtedly depend on your own work history. I always knew I was watching an informed world, and that Judge clearly experienced much of what he put on-screen, but it also felt alien to me, so as much fun as I had, the story still didn't quite ring with any deep significance for me. This is still a first-rate, clever comedy, and certainly it has rightly earned its large cult following. Here's a film that may be funnier if you've endured an 'Office Space' like the title, but without a doubt, it's one of the sharper modern comedies to come out of Hollywood in many a moon.
Fox gives 'Office Space' its high-def premiere with this quite-nice 1080p/AVC MPEG-4 transfer (1.85:1), spread across a BD-50 dual-layer disc. The film certainly has never looked spiffier, and this presentation easily outclasses the previous DVD release.
'Office Space' has a very direct visual look. It's actually, in my opinion, a bit bland, though that's perfectly in keeping with the milieu it depicts. The source looks quite clean with no major blemishes, only a slight bit of grain that gives it a film-like look. Contrast is bright but not over-done, with solid blacks, resulting in considerable visual depth and detail. Colors are very well-saturated (if somewhat dull, again in keeping with the film's direct photography style). Fleshtones are also natural. Finally, Fox gives us a fine encode, with only some slight (if consistent) noise to irritate. Otherwise, 'Office Space' looks very good indeed.
'Office Space' gets a first-ever DTS-HD Lossless Master Audio 5.1 Surround (48kHz/24-bit) upgrade. The film's sound design doesn't lend itself to great high-def audio, but this track certainly gets the job done.
The movie is mostly dialogue-driven. Words are sharp and clear, and always perfectly balanced in the mix. Dynamics never really excel, but the material certainly doesn't demand it. Likewise, low bass really only kicks in with some musical moments, but otherwise your subwoofer will hardly get a workout. Surrounds are generally meager, too, with sporadic discrete effects and only minor ambiance. For the material, 'Office Space' sounds good enough.
Dubbed the "Special Edition with Flair!", I was disappointed in the extras for 'Office Space.' They replicate the standard DVD, but aside from a lone making-of featurette, I didn't find much here of great quality. All video is presented in 480p/i/MPEG-2, with optional English, Spanish, Cantonese and Mandarin subtitle options.
'Office Space' is a clever and well-written comedy. I didn't quite take to it as much as some due to my own lack of experience working in similar office environments, but I can certainly appreciate why the film has amassed such a cult audience. This Blu-ray delivers in terms of audio and especially video, though the supplements are surprisingly lame. Still, the tech upgrade makes this Blu-ray worth considering for fans.