Office Space (1999) - Plot Summary Poster



Showing all 7 items
Jump to:


  • Three company workers who hate their jobs decide to rebel against their greedy boss.

  • In the Initech office, the insecure Peter Gibbons hates his job and the obnoxious Division VP Bill Lumbergh who has just hired two efficiency consultants to downsize the company. His best friends are two software engineers Michael Bolton and Samir Nagheenanajar, that also hate Initech, and his intrusive next door neighbor Lawrence. He believes his girlfriend Anne is cheating on him but she convinces Peter to visit the hypnotherapist Dr. Swanson. Peter tells how miserable his life is and Dr. Swanson hypnotizes him and he goes into a state of ecstasy. However, Dr. Swanson dies immediately after giving the hypnotic suggestion to Peter. Peter, in his new state, starts to date the waitress Joanna and changes his attitude which results in his being promoted by the consultants. When he discovers that Michael and Samir will be downsized, they decide to plant a virus in the banking system to embezzle fraction of cents on each financial operation into Peter's account. However Michael commits a mistake in the software on the decimal place and they siphon off over $300 thousand. The desperate trio tries to fix the problem, return the money and avoid going to prison.

  • Three software engineers have had enough of the daily grind working their dull, mundane jobs at Initech Corporation. Subjected to filling out useless forms, fighting with faulty office fax equipment, and their obnoxious boss Bill Lumbergh are enough to drive anyone crazy. When Initech announces that they're bringing in efficiency consultants the staff are afraid for their jobs. Michael, Samir, and Peter scheme to Get even for the job loss with a software programming scheme that aims to take Initech for a small fortune through a virus that is designed to skim the rounding on each banking transaction to Peter's bank account. Unfortunately thanks to a typo on the decimal the virus skims a lot or money. Realizing they don't have much time the three scramble to cover their tracks and avoid prison. Can they recover and get out of their predicament safely?

  • Peter Gibbons is a computer programmer who despises his job at Initech and his annoying boss Bill Lumbergh. His coworkers and friends, Michael Bolton and Samir Nagheenanajar, also hate their jobs and are about to be laid off in a downsizing of the company. To get back at Initech for their troubles, the trio plant a virus into Initech's banking system that will siphon money into Peter's bank account gradually. However, after a glitch in the virus code causes a large sum of money to immediately transfer to their account, the trio must find a way to solve the problem without going to jail.

  • Peter Gibbons, thanks to a hypnotic suggestion, decides not to go to work at the same time his company is laying people off and ends up getting promoted as suggested by two consultants. When layoffs affect his two best friends, the trio conspire to plant a virus in the company's banking system that will embezzle a small amount of money on every transaction into Peter's bank account.

  • Peter Gibbons just can't seem to catch a break. He believes his girlfriend is cheating on him, he has an intrusive neighbor, and he's completely miserable with his job as a small cog in a company called Initech. Then he visits a hypnotherapist, who dies just after putting Peter into a state of complete bliss. Free of worrying about making a living, he no longer feels the need to keep his job, just as the company is going through a massive downsizing. However, his new attitude only makes him more valuable in the company's consultant's eyes. Peter's friends Michael and Samir are laid off and the trio scheme to plant a virus inside Initech's computer system that will siphon cents from each transaction into Peter's bank account.


The synopsis below may give away important plot points.


  • Office Space is the first feature-length film directed by writer/creator Mike Judge. It is based on his "Milton" animated shorts. Office Space did not generate stunning box office on its original release in 1999, but the film, along with red Swingline staplers, have since attained cult status.

    This film chronicles the dreary life of Peter Gibbons (Ron Livingston), a software engineer cubicle dweller at Initech. Peter has a frustrating commute, tiresome coworkers, an inane boss and a girlfriend that he's pretty sure is cheating on him. The only bright spots in his life are his two friends at work, Samir (Ajay Naidu), and the unfortunately named Michael Bolton (David Herman), his laid-back construction worker neighbor Lawrence (Diedrich Bader), and Joanna, a waitress at the local Chotchkie's restaurant whom he worships from afar (Jennifer Aniston).

    After enduring a morning at work consisting of repetitive reprimands about the minutia of TPS reports (the acronym is never explained), the bleak office atmosphere takes a tense turn when the employees are informed that Initech is bringing in consultants to help improve efficiency. All the Initechers are nervous about interviewing for their own jobs, but Milton (Stephen Root), a twitchy, mumbling long-time employee, is only concerned that he will either be asked to move his desk once again, or that someone will notice he's kept his beloved red Swingline stapler after the company had switched to another brand. Michael Bolton threatens to unleash the virus he's been working on, or join Samir in trashing the horrible fax machine they're forced to deal with.

    On Friday Peter attempts to sneak out early, but is caught by his arrogant boss, Bill Lumbergh (Gary Cole), and as feared is requested to work over the weekend. Peter finally leaves the office and reluctantly joins his girlfriend, Anne (Alexandra Wentworth), at an appointment with an occupational hypnotherapist that she's hoping can help him have a more positive outlook on life. The hypnotherapist does indeed get Peter into a very relaxed state, but suffers a fatal heart attack before he can bring him out. The next morning, Peter ignores his alarm clock, blowing off working on Saturday and Sunday as requested. He also manages to sleep through the 17 messages left for him by Lumbergh. He takes an angry call from Anne, who's demanding an explanation for his odd behavior. Peter responds by hanging up on her, and Anne responds by breaking up with him and confirming that yes she WAS cheating on him. Peter returns to bed for the remainder of the day.

    On Monday, instead of going to work, Peter goes to Chotchkie's and finally asks Joanna out for lunch. They get to know each other and he tells her of his plan to not quit, but just stop going to work. They also discover a mutual appreciation for the TV series Kung Fu, and a date is made to watch it later at Peter's apartment. Peter then heads over to the Initech office to retrieve his address book, and runs into Michael Bolton who advises him to go home instead of keeping his interview appointment with the efficiency experts, both of whom happen to be named Bob. Peter decides this is the opportunity he's been waiting for, and meets with the Bobs. He tells them in no uncertain terms about his lack of motivation and his frustration of having to answer to seven levels of management. He leaves the meeting feeling unburdened, wishes them all well, and the Bobs are duly impressed.

    Meanwhile, Joanna has her own version of Lumbergh to deal with, her boss at Chotchkie's, Stan (Mike Judge). He conveys his disappointment about her wearing the minimum amount of "flair" (the decorative buttons and the like) on her work uniform. He lectures that while the "flair" is her opportunity to express herself, she seems satisfied in only wearing the minimum 15 pieces. Joanna, perplexed, assures him she will do more to express herself.

    The reorganization at Initech is progressing. The Bobs are meeting with upper management, and inform Lumbergh of several employees who will be let go. They also point out that they discovered an irregularity. Milton had actually been laid off five years prior, but through a glitch in payroll continued to receive a paycheck. The Bobs report that they fixed the glitch, and that Milton will no longer be paid and will eventually leave of his own accord. When they bring up the subject of promoting Peter, Lumbergh disagrees with them, but they vehemently push back, and start quizzing Lumbergh on how much time he's spending on those TPS reports.

    Peter spends the next several days hanging with Joanna and fishing with Lawrence. He shows up back at Initech at the request of the Bobs to find out that not only is he getting a promotion, with people reporting to him, a raise and stock options, but that among others both Samir and Michael Bolton are being fired. He meets with his friends that night and asks Michael Bolton if the virus he's always talking about will really work. Michael explains that the virus will take the fractions of a penny that remain on every bank transaction and deposit them into an account. The theft will be so gradual that it will take years before it's even noticed. The three friends agree that it's a foolproof scam, and decide to put it in motion the following day before Samir and Michael are let go for good. They also agree not to tell anyone else, even though Lawrence has heard all the details of the plan through the apartment wall. Peter assures Samir and Michael that Lawrence is "cool."

    The plan to upload the virus is executed with overly elaborate complexity and the friends declare, "That was easy." After Michael Bolton and Samir are escorted out by security, Peter takes them to a nearby field to give them a going-away present: the fax machine that's been the bane of their existence. Michael and Samir take out their frustrations on the machine, totally demolishing it with their feet, a baseball bat and even Michael's bare hands. The day ends badly for Milton as well, when he's asked to move his desk into Storage Unit 2, and Lumbergh confiscates his red Swingline stapler.

    That weekend, on their way to a party being thrown by a recently laid-off Initech coworker, Peter reveals the penny-pinching software scam to Joanna. Despite his best efforts, he fails to convince her that what he, Samir and Michael are doing isn't stealing. Once at the party, Peter finds out to his horror that Joanna once slept with Lumbergh. He confronts her with this information on the way home from the party, they argue, and she gets let out of the car saying her previous history is not his to judge, that it was two years ago and proclaims that he needs grow up. Peter then suffers a horrible nightmare in which he envisions Lumbergh having sex with Joanna.

    Joanna's run of confrontations continue. Her boss, Stan, again reprimands her for not using her "flair' to express herself. Joanna decides she's finally had enough, expresses herself by flipping him the bird, and gets fired from her job.

    The next morning Peter checks the balance in the illicit penny-pinching scam account and finds it is a shocking $305,326.13! The three friends meet, and Michael chalks the glitch up to a decimal place error. Meanwhile, at Initech, the poor treatment continues with Milton. After he is denied a piece of office birthday cake, this being the second time, the last straw comes in the form of a request to please go ahead and take care of the cockroach problem in Storage Unit 2, an action that Milton points out as not being in his job description, and the the lights get turned out on him. He mumbles that perhaps he'll burn down the building. Peter, Samir and Michael have been mulling over their problem of too much stolen money all day, and determine that they are simply not good criminals. The trio are afraid of going to prison and being sexually assaulted. Before they adjourn for the night, Peter learns from Michael and Samir that they were also aware that Joanna did sleep with a former employee named Lumbergh who was transferred but it wasn't their boss. After Michael and Samir leave, Peter knows what he must do: he decides to return the money to Initech along with a note taking responsibility for the whole thing. First, Peter meets Joanna outside of the new restaurant she's working for and informs her that he may be going to jail for a while since he's planning to take the blame for the embezzlement scam. He asks for her forgiveness and says that though he might never find a job he likes, he thinks he could be happy in his life if he's with her. She forgives him immediately.

    Peter sneaks into Initech after hours and slips the envelope containing his confession letter and the $300 thousand in traveler's checks under Lumbergh's office door. The next morning, Milton harangues Lumbergh's secretary about not being paid and then lets himself into Lumbergh's empty office in an effort to retrieve his red stapler. Back at his apartment, Peter bids farewell to his neighbor Lawrence and heads off to hit the road. On his way out, he passes the Initech building ... which is completely engulfed in flames. As the building collapses, we see Milton wandering away from the crowd, mumbling about his stapler.

    Later, we see Peter has joined Lawrence's construction crew and is working on the clean-up of the Initech fire. Peter runs across the charred red stapler and scoops it up -- he knows there's someone who's would like it. Michael and Samir come by to visit on their lunch break from their new jobs at Innertrobe, or Penetrobe as Peter calls it. The friends conclude that the fire likely consumed the confession letter and all the money, and decide they're in the clear but it's too bad all the money was lost. Peter soaks in the simple pleasure of working outside and making an honest living.

    Next we see Milton at a beautiful Mexican resort and the mystery of what happened to the money is solved. When he's given the wrong drink order, he first threatens to take his business and traveler's checks to a competing resort ... then to burn the resort down.

See also

Taglines | Synopsis | Plot Keywords | Parents Guide

Contribute to This Page

Recently Viewed