Office Space: Cubical Farm Cult Classic

Monday , 24, July 2017 22 Comments

“‘PC Load Letter’? What the **** does that mean?”

Cult Classic (noun): A movie liked only by a tiny group of unhealthily obsessed fans. Probably garbage, possibly repellent, the reason it failed commercially is usually immediately obvious to anybody who isn’t one of the unhealthily obsessed fans. See The Rocky Horror Picture Show.

To be fair, cult classics are not always totally terrible. In fact, many of them are quite good. That said, all of them appeal to a narrow slice of the audience and it’s usually pretty easy to see why.

Office Space is a cult classic. Quite funny, and eminently quotable… in fact, let’s do a little bit of that.

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.

Office Space is about a bunch of schlubs working dead end software engineering jobs at a minor, but still soulless corporation. Peter, our hero, is struggling with depression and a feeling that his life is one long series of meaningless days. His girlfriend suggests he go see a hypnotherapist…

Peter Gibbons: So I was sitting in my cubicle today, and I realized, ever since I started working, every single day of my life has been worse than the day before it. So that means that every single day that you see me, that’s on the worst day of my life.
Dr. Swanson: What about today? Is today the worst day of your life?
Peter Gibbons: Yeah.
Dr. Swanson: Wow, that’s messed up.

Swanson here hypnotizes Gibbons, telling him all his cares will melt away and he’ll be totally relaxed. Then the fat jerk croaks before taking Peter out of the trance, so he just walks away, happy as a clam, without a care in the world. In short order he’s started blowing off work, broken up with his controlling wench of a girlfriend, started dating the hot chick waitress from their local chain restaurant, started telling off his evil, passive-aggressive, soulless boss, and gotten a promotion out of it all (while his friends, the good, productive workers get canned).

Then there’s the printer. Have you ever hated a piece of malfunctioning office equipment so much you just beat the crap out of it with baseball bats and eventually your bare hands? These boys did. (Language warning.)

And then there’s Lumbergh. You just have to watch the movie for Lumbergh. He’s the font of a million memes, and possibly the best part of the whole shebang.

Look, the movie isn’t perfect. It’s uneven, rough in a few spots, and the humor is a bit… niche. Not that regular people couldn’t understand it—it’s not that obscure—just that it’s off-kilter in a way that pushes it across the “won’t appeal to everybody” line.

Made by Mike Judge, creator of Beavis and Butthead, King of the Hill, and Idiocracy, the movie definitely has his stamp all over it. It’s biting, satirical, but not callous or cynical. It’s just meant to entertain, not hector or lecture.

It’s a Cult Classic and the humor is a bit niche. Still and all, it’s a fun ride and worth checking out at least once.

So if you could just, hmmm, yeah, go ahead and give Office Space a chance and watch it once or twice, that would be terrific, okay?


Jasyn Jones, better known as Daddy Warpig, is a host on the Geek Gab podcast, a regular on the Superversive SF livestreams, and blogs at Daddy Warpig’s House of Geekery. Check him out on Twitter.

22 Comments
  • Aaron B. says:

    I think “cult classic” sometimes gets applied to any movie that didn’t do well on initial release for whatever reason — maybe bad marketing or strong competition — but gained a larger audience later. I don’t think you have to be part of a specific subculture to enjoy Office Space (though it probably helps to have experience with corporate culture) in the same way as something like Rocky Horror. Everyone should give it a watch.

    Idiocracy is one that I didn’t appreciate the first time through. I think I was expecting a broader, Beavis and Butthead style of humor; but it’s a smart, subtle satire, and very funny taken as that.

  • PC Bushi says:

    I love this one.

    PC Load Letter is Life.

  • H.P. says:

    The better quote riffing on “Nagheenanajar” is “Samir Naga…Naga…not gonna work here anymore!”

  • Brian T Renninger says:

    I needn’t be red but, if you get your hands on an all-metal swingline it is actually well worth it. That wasn’t satire but, truth.

  • JD Cowan says:

    Mike Judge is one of the best talents of the 90s. I wish he had a higher output.

    • cirsova says:

      Well, there ARE a gorillion episodes of King of the Hill.

      • jic says:

        And don’t forget Silicon Valley.

      • JD Cowan says:

        I’ve memorized an unhealthy number of KOTH episodes.

      • deuce says:

        I basically grew up in a KotH episode, except I was quite a bit cooler than Bobby by the time I hit puberty. My dad was similar to Hank. He bought his propane off a guy named Strickland. My mom was a substitute teacher and fairly similar to Peg. One of the kids in my 4-H club was named Dale. His dad looked and sounded just like Dale in the show AND he sold herbicides. There were plenty of differences, of course, but Judge had/has a good grasp of small-town life in flyover country, IMO.

  • deuce says:

    When he’s on, Judge is a genius. I’ll take him, pound for pound, over the South Park boys any day.

    • Vlad James says:

      I think Judge and Parker/Stone are both geniuses, honestly. And their best work is not necessarily their most famous, either.

      Judge is known for King of the Hill, but The Goode Family is way better. Parker/Stone are known for South Park, but Orgazmo is one of the funniest films ever, and yes, the Zucker-style Baseketball was excellent, too.

  • Andy says:

    Every time I see something by Judge, I recognize everyone in it. I knew all the people on King of the Hill, I grew up with Beavis and Butthead (right down to their chuckling), and that “How Can I Help the Company?” scene in Office Space has literally happened at my office.

    Silicon Valley was a really good show for its first couple of seasons. It’s still funny but has settled into being more of a standard sitcom. I remember he had left-wing equivalent of King of the Hill called The Goode Family but it got canceled after seemingly scaring the network. I remember it being funny but the portrayal of the family was accurate in a bad way because everyone outside of the father and maybe the boy was just kind of repulsive.

    • Vlad James says:

      “The Goode Family” was insanely hilarious. In my view the single funniest season of an animated show ever. Better than any season of The Simpsons, Beavis and Butthead, South Park, Futurama, The Critic, etc.

    • deuce says:

      “Every time I see something by Judge, I recognize everyone in it.”

      Same here, Andy. See my reply above to an earlier comment. Judge is a master at taking his “lived experiences” and translating them into comedy gold. Pretty much what he’s done his entire career. And there’s not a damned thing wrong with that.

  • Vlad James says:

    I wouldn’t call a picture as universally beloved and appreciated as Office Space a “cult classic”.

    At this point, it’s simply a “classic”.

  • Nym says:

    There are people who haven’t seen office space? Seriously?

  • Mike hole says:

    SHAWSHANK’S RULE: It isn’t a “cult classic” if you can see it on TBS at least 17 times a year.

    Very poor content.

  • Viktor says:

    “Two chicks at one time.”
    “You do want to express yourself, don’t you?”

    But my favorite is a visual joke. After parking, the crew walk-and-talk to the office and there isn’t a walkway anywhere. They walk over humps, between rows of cars, etc.

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