Thursday, January 11, 2007

How I Spent My Sick Day

Next time you take a sick day, watch Office space and Fight Club (both 1999) back to back like I just did, and you'll see that they are kinda the same movie. In both films, the protagonists are close to cracking beneath the pressure of their god-awful jobs (Edward Norton probably has it a bit better as his soul-deadening insurance company work gets him out of the office at least).

In Fight Club, our hero (Edward Norton) deals with these pressures by forming a splinter personality (Brad Pitt as Tyler Durden) and together they launch some kind of vague proto-terrorist-merry-prankster-bare-knuckle boxing outfit that destroys half of the city. In Office Space, the central character (Ron Livingston as Peter Gibbons) suffers a breakdown that falls a bit short of the barbaric yalp what we see in Fight Club but is a breakdown just the same.

The main difference is that in Office Space, we get a happy ending for Peter, who changes his life and moves on. And the thing that spares ol’ Pete (and us) from prison or the kind of meandering, abstract, ‘you figure it out’ ending we see in Fight Club? Advice from his girlfriend, who, in a brilliant moment of Gordian knot-unwinding logic, tells him he doesn’t need to work at his soul-crushing job. He can quit! He can go do something else! Not always easy, true, but then neither is wiring explosives to a dozen skyscrapers. If only Cornelius had heard these words in time, Meatloaf might still be alive.

The girlfriend? Played by Jennifer Aniston, Brad Pitt’s real-life wife at the time!

See? These people who are intimately connected in real life were representing opposite sides of the same subconscious urge, one prompting regression to violence, the other ascendancy to reason, one urging self-destruction, the other self-actualization through self-determination, and they were married!
Okay, so it’s not that big of an insight into the movies. I apologize.

But still, if David Fincher had directed Mike Judge’s script for Office Space, Brad Pitt would have played Milton and they would have had the budget to make the fire that destroys Initech at the end look believable.



Anonymous said...

Wait a minute... Brad Pitt & Edward Norton were the same character? How about a spoiler alert!


Gregory Adams said...

Here's some more:

Kong dies at the end.

The Crying Game? The chick's a dude.