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Austin Film Society Presents “Office Space” 20th Anniversary Reunion

Can you believe it’s been 20 years since “Office Space” was released? That’s two whole decades of Lumbergh impersonations, red Swingline staplers and Michael Bolton jokes.

Office Space
Photo by Jackie Ruth

Austin Film Society is honoring “Office Space” with the 2019 Star of Texas Award — and inducting it into the Texas Film Hall of Fame at the Texas Film Awards on March 7. Some of you may be wondering why. Well, the 1999 cult classic was filmed right here in Austin! The building it was filmed in of course no longer says “Initech,” but it still stands in South Austin, recognizable to the movie’s biggest fans.

For those who haven’t seen the cult hit, “Office Space” was directed and written by Mike Judge. The jist of the film is about three company workers who hate their jobs and decide to rebel against their greedy boss. A movie that is still relatable today, right? The fil starred Ron Livingston as Peter, Jennifer Aniston as Joanna, David Herman as Michael Bolton, Ajay Naidu as Smir, Stephen Root as Milton and Gary Cole as Bill Lumbergh.

Maybe one of the reasons “Office Space” holds such a special place in our culture is the universality of office life (the same reason the TV show “The Office” has had an impact). Even people who have never worked in offices can see how a mundane work experience could lead one to lose it. For instance, I’ve never worked in a cubicle, and pop culture would lead me to believe that’s one of the worst fates a person could suffer. You can just feel the misery through the screen.

Office Space
Ron Livingston | Photo credit: Jackie Ruth

But what has really made this film stand the test of time — and what has earned it its place in the Texas Film Hall of Fame — is the comedy. Any two people who knows the film well enough could shoot quotes back and forth at each other. Not only about the things I mentioned above, but also about flair, TPS reports, printers and “missing” work. Mike Judge’s screenplay and direction led to a near-perfect comedy with a killer cast.

Maybe its initial run, with a so-so box office and good critical reception, wasn’t a great litmus test for this movie. Maybe it needed time to marinate in our collective consciousness — a defining factor in most cult classics.

Have you revisited “Office Space” recently? How has it held up for you all these years? Let us know in the comments!

Featured photo credit: Jackie Ruth/Shuffle Online

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