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  Office Space (1999)
 
Stephen Root; Photo courtesy of 20th Century Fox/
The Kobal Collection/Van Redin

Most of the time, movies offer a window into an unexplored world. But the fun of "Office Space" is that at some point -- actually, at several points -- every corporate cubicle denizen has shared the workplace frustration that the movie's main character, Peter Gibbons, experiences at Initech.

It's not, as one staffer cheerily says, "a case of the Mondays." It's a case of being stuck in a mindless job at a soulless company peopled by desperate workers at every level.

Screenwriter and director Mike Judge, better known as the creator of "Beavis and Butthead," leaves no wage-slave complaint untouched, from bumper-to-bumper commutes to ineffectual bosses to worthless office equipment to inane office policies. For good measure, he throws in a couple of consultants hired to reduce staff and a seriously unbalanced coworker who refuses to be fired.

A couple of outlandish plot twists and a romantic B-story really don't succeed, but two scenes earn "Office Space" a hallowed place in the workplace movie hall of fame.

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First, a semi-hypnotized (one of those aforementioned plot twists) Peter is brutally honest about the company and his place in it. The consultants immediately proclaim him "a straight shooter with upper management written all over him."

Secondly, Peter rallies two pink slip-destined coworkers by proclaiming that "human beings were not meant to sit in little cubicles staring at computer screens all day and listening to bosses drone on about mission statements."

Do Peter's workplace woes hit home? Then you've found the underlying money message of "Office Space": Don't just sit there and take it. Clear out the cube, find yourself a better (and better-paying) job or even start your own business.

Just be sure you leave on good terms (the perfect resignation letter helps) and don't forget to claim those job-search deductions on your tax return.

 
 
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