Beavis And Butt-Head and King Of The Hill creator Mike Judge's non-animated big-screen debut, Office Space, is awfully frustrating: It's too uneven and sloppy to be considered a success, yet too funny and good-spirited to be written off. Based upon a series of animated shorts Judge did for Saturday Night Live, the film tells the story of an office drone (Ron Livingston) whose depressing existence receives a much-needed spark when he visits a hypnotist who dies of a heart attack before he can undo a hypnotic trance that provides complete peace of mind. Armed with this newfound confidence, Livingston goes back to work a changed man and speaks his mind, confusing his superiors, who mistake his belligerence for innovative corporate daring and give him a big promotion while firing several of his closest friends. All of which is a fairly ornate set-up for an embezzlement scheme Livingston puts together to get revenge on the heartless corporation for which he works. Operating less as a cohesive narrative than a series of skits thrown together around a few ill-defined characters, Office Space takes aim at some fairly large, obvious targets and misses a good number of them. But when it does connect, it provides something genuinely rare in comedies today: actual laughs. Much of the humor comes not from the bland protagonist, but from Office Space's two sharpest supporting characters, Livingston's banally evil boss (played with just the right mixture of smarm and faux-paternal concern by Gary Cole) and deranged, anal-retentive co-worker Stephen Root, a mumbling basket case who's perpetually on the verge of exploding. Office Space isn't a particularly focused film, and its ending is more than a bit anticlimactic, but those looking for a few laughs and nothing more could do a lot worse. If nothing else, just hearing Canibus rap about having his stapler confiscated over the end credits is worth the price of admission alone.
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