Tag Archives: 90’s

Sorry Good Will Hunting, I Need that T.P.S. Report By Monday

Two movies from the late 1990’s stand out as favorites, for me and many others: Office Space and Good Will Hunting.

Both truly stand the test of time, and entertain now just about as well as as they did when released. Both also have something to say about what “Work” is, and what kind of man should pursue what line of it, and what’s respectable or questionable about the choices they make along the way.

Construction labor plays an understated role in both narratives, repelling one protagonist and rescuing the other. Will Hunting (Matt Damon) begins his story as a workman, who is encouraged and motivated to find his way into a more intellectual profession. Peter (Ron Livingston) begins his story as a cubicle drone, who is encouraged and motivated to find his way into a more physically laborious occupation. For what it’s worth, Will Hunting lives in a dramatic universe, and Peter lives in a comedic one – but through its dry humor, Office Space manages to leave the viewer with a moral aftertaste just as significant as Good Will Hunting’s.

I don’t have a grand thesis to accompany to this comparison, it’s just something I noticed and that I’ve wanted to share for a while. I feel like these two movies are celebrated more than most others as time capsules of their era, but I’ve never heard any critic stand them up next to each other for comparison. On the surface they’re wonderfully different films, but at their core, both represent the challenges of a man trying to discover his true calling.

Let’s look at how each character begins his journey:

Here’s Will Hunting, on the job –

And here’s Peter, working –

But by the end of each film, their roles have reversed.

Peter, on the job:

Will, working:

Good Will Hunting (1997) was released two years before Office Space (1999.) It’s reasonable to assume Mike Judge had seen Good Will Hunting as he was writing and directing his film, but who knows whether he was intentionally making a response, or had even registered a connection between the stories.

Nearly twenty years later, enough time has passed for the once brilliant jokes to go just a bit stale, and without their original novelty, these two films now seem to have a lot more in common than they were originally meant to. How’dya like them apples?

on Missing the Mark

I was a “Child of the 90’s.”

For some reason, Microsoft has decided this is a fantastic reason for me to use their browser, Internet Explorer. Their latest commercial attempts to connect fads of the decade and using their product, which for me, were years apart.

The first time I remember anyone using Internet Explorer, with any regularity, was after 1998. Until then most people were connected to the internet using a portal like AOL, and its built-in browser. Even then, there were other options – Netscape was popular as well.

Everything in this IE commercial, for me, was happening years before the internet was around. I definitely was not wearing light-up shoes, or playing with POGS, at the same time that I was using Napster. I didn’t have a ‘fanny-pack’ and a 56k modem at the same time, and I wasn’t dying of dysentery on the Oregon Trail moments before I did my first Google search on IE.

That said, they did a good job of showing the biggest trends for kids of the age (but they forgot to give a shout out to Magic: The Gathering.)