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The sad, sad truth
dcshanno5 November 2004
The only thing that I can think when reading the negative comments left for this movie is that the people who wrote them have *clearly* never temped. As someone who spent four years of his life wasting away in other people's cubicles, I can tell you with complete authority that this movie gets every mind-numbing, insulting, and degrading aspect of the experience dead on. I suppose you should be thankful if you can't relate to what's going on in this film because it probably means you've never had to tip-toe into some middle manager's office on a Friday afternoon to get a signature on your time card.

As for those who think "Clockwatchers" is "dull" or "boring," it's called subtly. Look into it.
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Sprecher's perceptive, sad slice of reality
doktor d19 February 2003
Inappropriately marketed as a comedy, Clockwatchers is actually a sad, almost disturbing slice-of-life concerning the empty lives of four office temps and the realistic and/or idealized ways they seek to escape their individual predicaments. This low-key, purposefully bland drama, with spare touches of humor from Margaret (Parker Posey), is steeped in realism, making it all the sadder.

Margaret, Paula, and Jane befriend Iris, the central character, at her new temp job. Margaret is loud-mouthed, foul-mouthed, and smart. Paula (Lisa Kudrow) is a young woman with fast-fading beauty, loose morals, and no hope for a future. Jane (Alanna Ubach) is biding her time waiting for her man to marry her and take her away from the temp world. And Iris (Toni Collette) is intelligent but timid. Unlike her new friends, she has the opportunity to score a real job at an interview that her father has lined up for her; however, low self-esteem, shyness, and a new-found friendship with the office girls contribute to her procrastination. Outward, upward mobility seems to scare her.

One day Iris stares blankly at her empty diary. Her temp job affects her so badly that she can find nothing to write about; she's been turned into a mindless zombie. During a moment of introspection, she thinks, `Sometimes it hits you, how quickly the present fades into the past. And you question everything around you. You wonder if anything you'd ever do would matter, or if you could just disappear without a trace.' Jill and Karen Sprecher's script is punctuated with perceptive, thought provoking lines, many of which comment on the individual's insignificance in society. Early in the film, Margaret comments on how `a person can just drift through life like they're not connected to anyone or anything.' Later, Iris admits that `even if a person wanted to break free, they could find out they've got nowhere else to go.'

Ultimately, the Sprechers' four-character quasi-study can be applied to everyone, every day. Some characters move on, thus positively changing their lives forever; others, whether out of preference, procrastination, or lack of education, stay put, forever locked in dead-end jobs. At the film's end, Iris realizes that improving her situation can come only from `never hiding, never sitting silently, and never just waiting -- and waiting -- and watching the world go by.' Clockwatchers may be a `small' film with a soft voice, but at least it has something to say.
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An honest and often hilarious look at office life
FargoUT22 April 2002
At the suggestion of co-workers, I rented this film, and was amazed at the honest and funny portrayal "Clockwatchers" offers. Sure, it's a slow-moving tale, but working in an office is like that--slow, monotonous, boring. This movie is a very funny satire of inner-office politics. I am surprised the amount of negativity directed towards the film. Perhaps it was a bit too honest?

Parker Posey is so perfect in this movie. Toni Collette has the perfect low-key performance to work off Posey's. Lisa Kudrow is funny, but she smartly remains in the background for most of the movie. Alanna Ubach has the thankless role of doing nothing. However, all four work so well off each other, you can easily overlook the negatives.

For the person who commented that there are no offices like the one portrayed here, let me say: WRONG! I have worked in two offices that are nearly identical to that portrayed. It was horrible, and I quit both of them quickly. Admittedly, the film does push the realism boundaries, though this is a satire. Exaggeration is key to satire.

Go rent this movie. Preferably on DVD for the widescreen. This is better than "Office Space" and is more honest in its depiction of office life. It's sad, funny, quirky, and original. Parker Posey's brilliant performance is worth the price alone. Two Thumbs Up? You bet!
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Existential angst in a service based world
mew-46 January 2003
This is a really provocative movie that is artfully filmed.

Good art often offers commentary on the times. When you're in the midst of an era, it's hard to see what characterizes it. I think Clockwatchers does a terrific job of capturing a facet of the temp world of the 80's/90's. I was a temp for a year in 1988. It's quite accurate.

But you don't have to be a temp to recognize these characters. Yes Dilbert, yes Office Space, and especially the beginning of Joe vs the Volcano have these same foils. But I think Clockwatchers' take was unique. The characters were well developed while still being archetypes. There was a subtlety and style that all the others listed chose against.

The direction and cinematography of this film is terrific. It takes guts to burn film doing a close-up of someone's glasses for 10 seconds. There is real art to this film. The writing, the directing, the pacing, editing, all right up at the top of the scale. The acting was fine, but I don't think it's the strong suit of this movie. Toni Collette is a standout. While I love Parker Posey, I think she was probably a bit over the top here. The Muzak, while as mood-setting as the buzz of florescent lighting, can grate at a viewer.

This film touched on too may things to list them all. Here's a sample... What are you doing with your life if you're waiting for it to burn off? Isn't it exhausting and poisoning to pretend to look busy all day? If you are a cog in a machine, and accomplishing nothing at that too, did you really even exist? Are the "troublemakers" in life getting us in trouble, or offering us freedom (note there are two people here stirring up the pot)? What is theft (and theft of services)? Where is the dividing line between unethical play and immorality? At what point do you give up on the dream of personal growth? Are some people "better" than others? What does beauty (and grooming) have to do with it? Does the corporate hierarchy define our worth to others or our self-worth? What is loyalty and betrayal, to whom do you owe how much, and how do you give consent to those obligations/ownership? Work/friends/family are all portrayed as villains and allies wielding this loyalty Sword of Damocles.

One IMDB reviewer said this film was a good way to kill time after work. That's terrific irony. :)
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The temps
jotix10028 December 2005
Jill Sprecher, the enormous talent behind "Clockwatchers", needs to be seen more often. We saw this witty comedy in its original debut and it was a pleasure to watch it again on IFC. Ms. Sprecher and her sister Karen wrote a delicious movie that is on the one level a satire about the way "temps" are used in an office, and it's at the same time, a character study about these four souls at the center of the movie.

Each one of the young women in the film has a problem. They come together because they don't have a life on their own. Iris, Margaret, Paula and Jane, form a bond because they find safety in numbers. Iris is a clever girl whose shyness doesn't let her assert herself and is dragged along by the others that show stronger personalities. Margaret puts up a front, but deep down, she is just as vulnerable as the others. The most pathetic one is Paula, a woman who is pretending to be what she is not. Jane is waiting for the security of marriage to beat it out of being a temp.

When the sneaky Cleo is hired as a permanent employee, the problems in the office are magnified. As things begin disappearing from the office, all eyes point to the four temps. That is the beginning of the end of the clique, as they knew it. Iris is the one that stays the longer and she is the one that discovers the mystery of the missing things in the office, but alas, it's too late, because at that time she leaves the temp job.

Toni Collette, Parker Posey, Lisa Kudrow and Alana Ubach, are perfect as the four temps. Toni Collette has a better role where to shine as most of the story is seen through her eyes. Parker Posey is delightful as the free spirited Margaret. Lisa Kudrow also makes a good contribution with her pathetic Paula. Helen Firzgerald, who only has a few lines, cast a giant shadow as the creepy new employee that wants to make friends with Iris, only to be ignored.

The Sprecher sisters created a film that feels real a situation one has seen is prevalent in the office setting.
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What movie were you watching?
Junker-24 June 2000
Some of the earlier reviewers have called "Clockwatchers" dull, pointless and have asked why it was made. My question for these reviewers is: What movie were you watching? Is there another movie with a similar title out there? This movie is incredible!

No, it's not a "There's Something About Mary" farce. No, there aren't any explosion and no one is killed. (Someone does die... but that happens off camera and we don't see any blood.) The comedy here is of the subtle, "funny because it is true" variety. If you've ever had a job, any job, the comedy in this movie cannot escape you.

Parker Posey once again shows us that she is one of the finest comic actresses alive. And, contrary to what others have said, this is not a one note performance. She is at once obnoxious, brash, funny and fun...and yet, very vulnerable, struggling so hard to be recognized and very terrified of where her life is headed.

I could give similar praise to the performances of Toni Collette, Alanna Ubach and (believe it or not) Lisa Kudrow.

Director Jill Sprecher (I will have to watch more from her) has aimed her dart at office politics: The pecking order, the self-absorption, the pointlessness of it all, the feeling of "Oh, how I would I love to leave this place but where would next month's rent come from?"...and Jill has hit the bullseye!
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A masterpiece in a minor key
moonspinner555 August 2001
Blistering black comedy co-written by Jill Sprecher (who also directed) and Karen Sprecher, "Clockwatchers" gives us a suffocating office setting so vivid and real I half-expected my own co-workers to show up in it. Toni Collette plays the new temporary in a nondescript building wherein office-incidentals are slowly disappearing from the supply cabinet. The ensemble acting is delightfully accurate, and the strife which ensues in this scenario is comically overwrought and horrifying. Sprecher's direction is focused and brave (no overtures to broadly comical sensibilities), and she nimbly stretches the film's satirical edge quite far without faltering. The movie is a genuine American original, and by the final third I couldn't wait to see it again from the start. ***1/2 from ****
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A movie about stagnance, paralysis... (**TWO SPOILERS AHEAD**)
saturdaze26 May 2002
Warning: Spoilers
This is one of those movies whose brilliance sneaks up on you. I saw this movie when it first opened in theaters 4 years ago and I distinctly remember not being able to take my eyes off of spite of the fact that its pace is languid and at times meandering, and its main conflict starts rather late in the movie. Nevertheless, those elements didn't bother me, because the film's primary purpose is not so much to be a conventional film as it wants to be a mirror reflecting the hell that is corporate life. And it accomplishes that goal flawlessly.

As a slice-of-corporate-life, this movie is so accurate that it sometimes seems like a docudrama. Being an office worker myself, I was impressed by how many details it captured: from the cold, impersonal cubicles to the monotonous overhead music to the arrogance and possessiveness of the person in charge of the office supplies (he'd have you believe he's in charge of planets instead of paper clips) to the secretive, whispered suspicion of and curiosity about new hires, and even to the way bored workers use the up-and-down feature on their swivel chairs to help chase away boredom.

Some people view this movie as much ado about nothing since it deals with office life, which, on the surface, seems least likely to offer anything in the way of drama or entertainment. But the movie uses office life as a metaphor for the world we live in and how some of us feel overlooked, unappreciated, or just plain invisible. And the only way to succeed in the corporate world, as in life, is to take action, to make a move, to stop the stagnance. And that's why Toni Collette's character ultimately emerges as a hero. The way she finally takes action by helping the recently (and wrongly) fired Margaret get a recommendation is both touching and inspiring.

The cast is great--each player has mastered the mannerisms, the attitudes, and even the blank stares that result from working in an office 5 days a week, 52 weeks a year. But the standout is Parker Posey as the opinionated, defiant, in-your-face Margaret. I've always had reservations about Posey who--in other movies--has struck me as a little too self-consciously cutesy, but here she delivers, and there's almost never a false note as she creates a character who is simultaneously ambitious, hopeful, cynical, upbeat, and sad.

Having seen this movie about 4 times thus far, I tend to regard it as a special little friend whom my other friends don't quite understand.
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Clockwatchers leaves it mark
Rogue-324 June 2002
I saw this on cable last night, just 2 days after seeing the Sprecher sisters' latest film, 13 Conversations About One Thing - that was the reason I stayed up til 2:30 a.m. to watch it, in fact (please read my review of 13 Conversations, posted yesterday). This film is linear - one scene following the other chronologically - and therefore not as challenging to the viewer as 13 Conversations, but it does leave its mark (as one character in the movie has been told to do).

Writer/Director Jill Sprecher is extremely adept in nailing down specifics, and this gift for detail is in full evidence here. The film is about fear, lunch hours, pettiness, toilet paper, loneliness, rubber band balls, despair, paper clips, friendship, pencils, desperation, cocktail garnishes, anger - downright fury, actually - at being marginalized by the illusion of society - and much more. Toni Collette's face is still in my memory - her terrified-to-do-or-say-the-wrong-thing rabbit eyes, her rapture at feeling connected to her 3 fellow temp workers (and specifically, seeing her nose crinkle the way it does when she smiles), the desolation of seeing their bond destroyed by wretched but inevitable bone-chilling office politics and fear.

It's a small slice of life, Clockwatchers, but it's an important slice, one that anyone who has ever interacted with anyone on a daily, money-driven basis can relate to. If you've ever held a job, I'm saying, you will see yourself mirrored in at least some of these meticulous details.
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Accuracy is never boring.
alvoalvo27 March 2001
I suppose the viewers who label Clockwatchers "boring" simply don't understand that dramas are MEANT to be slower than your garden-variety Indiana Jones or Die Hard. These "action" flicks are ten-times as dull as the corporate setting for this astonishing study on class, friendship, and inner-awareness. Or maybe it is the female perspective or "chick-flick" factor that turn certain people off. Or maybe temporary status in modern American business isn't relevant to everyone. Or the subtle, less gimmicky observations of reality.

Clockwatchers is all of these things at once. Toni Collette plays the ultra-shy newcomer to Global Credit, the ultimate transnational corporation, who slowly comes to realize that the doomed bond she makes with three other temps is an extremely sacred event in her life. Iris slowly gains confidence through such comradery and at one point she doesn't want to leave, even though her father has higher career expectations for his daughter. Iris comes full circle at the end of the film, confronts one of her many bosses whom plot against her, and atones for not standing with Parker Posey, who is the life of the party as Margaret.

The creators of this film are SO incredibly accurate in revealing what worklife is actually like (the boredom, sharing someone else's space, not knowing someone's name or them not knowing yours), that I felt almost honored to know I wasn't alone. (Movies that are this honest about despair are never depressing.) This is combined by the subtle observations of Iris, which I suppose aren't as exciting as blowing someone's head off or toilet humor, but intriguing nonetheless. It is finally layered with political analysis as the female temps organize a strike.

Suffice it to say, Clockwatchers covers a lot of ground, but the layers are folded well together in a way that makes you care about what happens to these characters and their station in life. A must-see sleeper for those who prefer (for example) Merchant & Ivory over Van Damme & Seagal. 9 out of 10.
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Not what I expected
Red_Identity30 December 2014
I certainly expected a riot of a film, a very brass comedy in the vein on Romy and Michelle's High School Reunion. Why? Well, if one looked at the poster and the summary. in reality, it's mostly a drama, and deeper than I had expected going into it. The four leads are very strong, and while she has the most screen time, Collette does not have the showiest role. That would be Parker Posey who is great at this type of role. Lisa Kudrow's character is also something we've seen from her before, but she's so fantastic at it. She's not as over-the-top as her character in Friends, but she gives it so much nuance and quiet humor, the type that'd be surprising if I already didn't know how great of an actress she was. This is definitely recommended.
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A war movie in the office. It's a serious look at a comical situation.
deputydoofus13 February 2000
So many people write that this movie is about temporary replacement workers. It is not. It is a warfield with the soldiers disguised as office workers. It's a look at humanity, it is a look at human trust, compassion, greed, and ambition. It is a look at the every thing that divides people, no matter how silly the things may seem. One may look at everything people do in this movie, and think "Why are these people getting so upset. Nothing here REALLY matters, but they pretend like it's the end of the world." Well, this is the only world they know. This is the world they are stuck in, and this is the only world they think they'll ever be a part of. The little things show just as much about character as the killings in a war. Some of the characters kind of realize there's more to life, and these are the ones we hope for. There is so much in this film that could be observed. Saying this is a movie about a bunch of office temps is like saying "American Beauty" is a movie about a man going through mid-life crisis. There is so much more in it. It is possible to learn as much about human nature in this as it there is in an epic war movie.

The cast is particularly superb. Parker Posey was born to play her role. There is no actress that can play the arrogant, hyper, rude yet somehow lovable female as Posey. Lisa Kudrow adds a thorough discomfort the movie is trying to achieve. In "Clockwatchers", she plays her stereotypical "comic bimbo" role in a way that doesn't seem funny. Her character is more sad. In a typical office comedy, her character would get the most laughs. Not here. She plays it in a way you can only feel sorry for her, and you can only hope she finds a better life. Somehow, you know that she can't.

This is certainly not a comfortable movie to sit through. You have to be more in the mood to see "Saving Private Ryan" than you would, say, "Romy and Michelle's High School Reunion". It digs too deep, and most people wouldn't be in the mood to see that on a Friday night. If you look deep enough, however, and are patient enough, there are so many great gifts this movie can provide. My rating: 10/10.
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great actresses great indie
SnoopyStyle5 November 2018
Quiet temp Iris Chapman (Toni Collette) starts work at a cold, soulless office. Margaret Burre (Parker Posey) guides her to sit with Paula (Lisa Kudrow) and Jane (Alanna Ubach) during lunch. The four temps have different outlooks and become fast office friends. When things start going missing, the suspicion falls on them.

This is a collection of three of the best actresses around. They bring out real humanity in their characters. They have their fun moments. There is a poignant sadness throughout and a great ending of defiance. It's a triumphant indie. I think everybody has one great story within themselves and this is probably Jill Sprecher's best. She and her sister use their experiences to infuse this with a sympathetic eye towards the women at the bottom of the corporate ladder. There is something true and appealing about these women and their lives.
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Quietly funny and strangely haunting
coiled29 December 2005
For some reason I'd been resisting seeing this film until a friend thrust it into my hands and said, "C'mon, Toni Collette and Parker Posey, how can you go wrong?"

Maybe I was resisting because I didn't want to see my life up there on the screen. Currently working in a temp job (where I am typing this review), "Clockwatchers" is terrifyingly familiar. It's not a hilarious comedy, although it is quite funny. Certain moments threaten to veer into David Lynch-style self-conscious surrealism, but the director reigns these moments in, in the nick of time.

It's a film about small things happening in an enclosed space, and the friendships that grow between the most unlikely of people, due mostly to proximity. The mood of paranoia that emerges in the second half of the film is perfect - turning trivialities into monumental acts of anarchy and betrayal. The office becomes a sealed microcosm where the theft of a tiny plastic monkey becomes the end of the world.

Not everyone is going to understand this film - it's not "Office Space", which is more accessibly 'wacky'. You're not going to chuck it on with your mates and have a good laugh. It's much more sombre and serious and ultimately quite sad. And it's made me quit my job (so perhaps I should have given it 10 stars, just for that).
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Amusing Satire of Temp Life in Cubicle Jobs
noralee12 December 2005
When the credits started for "Clockwatchers" - Toni Collette, Parker Posey and Lisa Kudrow - the senior citizens around me in the art house theater complained they hadn't heard of anybody. (There were also choice bit roles by James Elliott of "Jag," Bob Balaban and Paul Dooley and they didn't recognize them either.) There was a row of young kids in the front for some reason who talked as much as the seniors through the movie and kept going in and out to get food and slamming the door. All of which is hard to take during a comedy.

This is a great movie for those of us in unsatisfactory office cubicle jobs - ideal for those in temp hell. Not necessarily laugh out loud funny all the way through but biting social satire about office life today for those at the bottom end of a ladder that doesn't go anywhere.

Collette's central character is almost too bland and vacant towards the end as there's no ringing conclusion just some small revenges, but it's all in character and place.

Kudrow gets to be a bit nastier and practical life-facing than her usual roles.

Clearly the sister creators of this movie have spent some time as temps! And temporary office placement companies are now the largest employers in the country.

(originally written 5/26/1998)
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"the nail that sticks out gets pounded down"
attennessee6 October 2019
Everybody shines in this haunting, poignant and well directed movie. there is not one bad actor; every one is perfectly cast.

how such an intimate film can so strongly convey the dehumanizing, alienating nature of many work places is a nod to the strength of this compelling production.

i love the whole mood of the film and the play between meditative reflection and a zombie-like numbness. stays with you. one of my all-time favorite films. 9/10
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I maintain that this film is boring
ajdagreat26 November 2001
Remember me? I was the person who said this film was incredibly boring. OK, so there were a lot of people who said this was boring, but some people also said this film was funny and brilliant.

Many people said that this film's humor was subtle, and that's why many people didn't "get it." I admit that this film seems true-to-life, but simply making a movie about real life isn't funny - because a bunch of women coping with office life isn't funny! If subtle humor that reminds us of lives is so funny, why don't people make documentaries of average people and call them hilarious? It's not funny, that's why.

Don't get me wrong. I am not turned off by chick flicks (I loved Sleepless in Seattle!), nor do I become enraged if I watch a movie with no bloody deaths or explosions. But the makers of this movie need to remember that a movie about life doesn't become a satire unless it's funny. This movie is just plain boring. I couldn't care less about what happens to any of the characters.
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Female version of Office Space
aplato5 January 2002
I see this movie and Office Space (1999) on the same continuum. Office Space was the "male" version of a "work movie." It expressed the tedium and stupidity of work life through three quirky, dorky, horny guys. It shows how many men view their work: absurd, tedious, and unfulfilling.

Clockwatchers does the same thing, but in a fundamentally different way. It is slower, more introspective, and conniving. It represents how many women view themselves at work: ignored, mistreated, and accused.

I find both these movies extremely satisfying and insightful, but for different reasons. Office space is a masterpiece of quirky humor, unidimensional characters, and a lose, very funny plot. It expresses what a lot of people feel about work - that its a big joke.

Clockwatchers shows the slow and destructive boredom that that burn through friendships and humiliate people. The characters are considerably more dimensional and real. Iris makes a very odd "hero" for a movie. She is extremely quiet, dismissive, and shy. Her complex relationships with her three work pals show that she can rise out of her shell to take action as well as sink deep into mistrust and anger.

If you are looking for a wham-bam laugh out loud work movie, go see Office Space. If you want something slower and more character oriented, see Clockwatchers. If you want the full spectrum, see them both side by side.
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The monotony of life
Sergiodave5 September 2021
I would consider this movie a drama, not a comedy. It is a movie about the dull routine of office life, which I know from experience is mind-numbing. The four lead actors are great, indeed none of the cast put a foot wrong. This is a sedate but sharp movie where dialogue is key, if you're wanting action look elsewhere. A well made ensemble piece.
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dan924113 April 2000
I have never worked as an office temp before, but after seeing this movie, I have a very clear image as to what it must be like. The film does a perfect job of making the viewer feel like part of the office community (which isn't always a good thing to want to feel). After the movie was over, I felt somewhat void and numb - and very tired. That is the exact effect that this film should have. The business world allows for no individuality or creativity - instead, it silences one's spirit.

Toni Collette is wonderful as Iris. I have known so many people like this character - quiet, shy, someone who lets life go by without making his/her mark. I have also known many people like Margaret (Parker Posey) - people who need to be seen and heard at all times. And this one of Parker's greatest performances. She goes from a bouncy free-spirit to an aggressive troublemaker to an outcast without warning, and her transformation is fascinating to watch. Lisa Kudrow, too, gives another great performance (and this was before her scene-stealing role in "The Opposite of Sex") as the possibly compulsive liar Paula. The fourth actress, Alannah Ubach, I have not seen in anything else, but she is absolutely a delight to watch. Smaller roles by actors such as Jamie Kennedy, Bob Balaban (Posey's costar in "Waiting For Guffman"), and David James Elliot are also performed with perfection. If you appreciate a movie about interesting characters in everyday situations, then this is a movie for you. Many people have complained about the slow pace, but I have never found this to be boring. The slow pace is effective in making viewers feel as desperate and unimportant as the temps. 9/10
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Good first film for director; well acted, too.
Hermit C-27 December 1999
I'm surprised how many people see this as a boring film that does nothing but chronicle the minutiae of modern-day office life. 'Clockwatchers' is a relationship film which also examines the lives of the new breed of second-class citizen in the late 20th century workplace, the temp.

Iris (Toni Collette) is a meek temporary hire who stands out about as much as the Muzak at her new assignment, a large credit firm. Luckily she's taken under the wing of Margaret (Parker Posey), the Artful Dodger of the firm's temps who shows her how to survive in this impersonal world. Along with Paula (Lisa Kudrow) and Jane (Alanna Ubach) they form an us-against-them support group and Iris begins to come out of her shell as a person as well. Soon Margaret is conducting a guerilla war against a permanent hire (Helen FitzGerald) who gets a job Margaret had been aiming for and who is almost a mirror image of Iris when she came to work a few weeks before. The office drama is played out in great detail, and the solidarity of the temps is one of the war's casualties.

This is a fine, above-average first effort from director Jill Sprecher, who wrote the screenplay with her sister Karen. She's obviously keen to show her skills here, and sometimes she directs the movie like it was 'Citizen Kane,' but that's not much of a fault. A little more serious problem is that after its climax the film loses some steam moving towards the denouement, but overall the screenwriting sisters have produced an entertaining film that speaks with authority on its subject. Let's hope they find regular employment.
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Get those files to me asap, but take your time finding your purpose
StevePulaski4 August 2013
Jill Sprecher's Clockwatchers sooner-or-later would've found an audience if it weren't for Mike Judge's Office Space, a film tackling the same subject and distributing it to a broader audience. While that film is more mail-oriented and houses a lot of obscurities and quirks that can only be found in cinema, Clockwatchers is more female-oriented and grounded in reality. Pairing the two up in one of those "His vs. Hers" double feature DVD sets with a cardboard spinner that allows the couple to humanly settle which film they get to watch first would be an ideal move for these films.

It's evident that Sprecher (who co-wrote the flick with her sister Karen) has had some experience with working in an office or a cubicle, and portrays the hell of working in one in a way that one could easily relate. Every minor detail is accentuated appropriately (and annoyingly in a fitting way) such as the clacking of keyboard keys, the ringing of the telephone, the stock music on the radio that allegedly increases employee productivity, and the sounds of overpriced leather shoes hitting the cheap, furnished rugs in the offices of these white collar prisons.

Yes, we the film is set in the nine-to-five hellhole that is Global Credit, an archetypal firm that employs a number of executives and office tempts that are easily-replaceable and dehumanized on the spot. We begin on Iris's (Toni Collette) first day there, which is burdened by feelings of inferiority and blandness. That is until she meets fellow tempts, such as the sassy Margaret (Parker Posey), the happy hour-hunter Paula (Lisa Kudrow), and Jane (Alanna Ubach), who is engaged to an unfaithful man. The girls bond, obviously because they know the stress, hell, and the feelings of uselessness that exists when you work as a tempt in a cookie-cutter office building.

Their relationship carries the film to several heights, some of which frightening, some of which emotionally-testing, all of which entertaining on some level. Sprecher gives these women real problems and time to show them over the course of ninety-one minutes. It helps, too, that she utilizes a cast of pure champions, especially Toni Collette, who plays shy and nervous excellently, all the while holding the persona of a character trying to do the right thing in the face of a conflict. Having her assisted by actresses like Posey, Kudrow, and Ubach are something of an indie miracle.

In addition, there is smart, believable focus on the people who work outside of the girls' circle in the office. One man in particular is hugely protective over the office supplies, such as staples (not his red stapler, though), pencils, paper, and his prized-possession - a rubber-band ball. We're also told that when times get really mundane and the work becomes an endless drudge, people around the office purposely start drama with others. For instance, Margaret steals the man's rubber-band ball for the fun of it. And eventually, someone begins stealing something of everyone's, causing an office uproar.

Clockwatchers, like Office Space, will be enjoyed and appreciated by the people who've unfortunately had to endure the drudgery both films amplify on the big-screen. It makes me wonder if working at a low to medium rank in a corporate office is better or any more rewarding than working a register or stocking at your archetypal minimum wage. There are serious truths about the white collar world - how dehumanizing workers is a regular event, how the overworked are undervalued, and the constant fear of replacement never subsides - and Clockwatchers explores it maturely and, to some even, in an eye-opening manner.

Starring: Toni Collette, Parker Posey, Lisa Kudrow, and Alanna Ubach. Directed by: Jill Sprecher.
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AppleAsylum14 October 2002
I think its kind of a known fact that Temp employees get the short end of the rope. Four women, picked to work in office, have their lives taped, where things get rough...OH, thats the tagline to a reality show! Well, anyway, that's what happens here. Parker Posey is everything you wish you could be while working in an office along with her three buddies... When several items come up missing, its these temps that pay the price. This is somewhat of a "9 to 5ish indie film" with Lisa Kudrow at her best! (7) Z.
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these reviews split the line of why people like movies
Prostheticwings19 January 2000
I think all of the negative (it was boring) reviews of this movie must have been written by people that expect something very narrowly defined from the movies they watch. It's pretty rare that I expect anything in particular from movies because I've been pleasantly and not-so-pleasantly surprised way too many times. Take it with an open mind and decide for yourself what kind of movie it is (or that it doesn't have a category). Someone mentioned the silence of Clockwatchers, which I definitely felt and attribute to the lack of a soundtrack (but for the office music). This, along with demonstrations of wasting time at work, were meant to give the audience a taste of what office life is like. Was it supposed to be funny? No. Was it supposed to be exciting? No. It was a movie ABOUT how much temping sucks, something I relate to from past jobs. I think it succeeded rather well, that is EXACTLY what many office environments are like.

I'm sort of mixed on Parker Posey, I like her but I'm still waiting for her to develop a new character. She did turn in a great performance though, I loved the little robotic movements at the marriage shindig thing. I was also impressed with the resolution of the thief storyline. Everyone both outside and inside the movie's first instinct was that it was one person, then another, and when it was finally revealed I was surprised at how well the director had let us back to the beginning of the circle. So I definitely recommend this movie if you're willing to watch good movies, regardless of intention. If you're just out for a good time go back and rent ID4 for the 8th time.
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Well named
Paguma30 December 1998
That is exactly what I did while watching this movie. I watched the clock, hoping it would end soon.
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