Clockwatchers (1997)

Clockwatchers (1997)
6.5
  • 4583
  • PG-13
  • Genre: Comedy
  • Release year: 1997 ()
  • Running time: 96 min
  • Original Title: Clockwatchers
  • Voted: 4583

Iris can best be described as a wallflower. She begins her first day as a temp for the nondescript Global Credit Association by waiting in a chair for two hours. This sets the scene for her (mis)adventures with the other "corporate orphans", Margaret, Paula and Jane. Led by Margaret, they find subtle ways to lessen the ennui of corporate oppression. The tension escalates when the new permanent hire, Cleo, enters the picture.

#PersonCharacters
1Toni ColletteIris Chapman
2Parker PoseyMargaret Burre
3Lisa KudrowPaula
4Alanna UbachJane
  • The sad, sad truth by 8

    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.

  • Existential angst in a service based world by 7

    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. :)

  • Accuracy is never boring. by 9

    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.

  • An honest and often hilarious look at office life by 7

    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!

  • What movie were you watching? by 9

    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!

#PersonCrew
1Jim Denaultcinematographer
2Madercomposer
3Jill Sprecherdirector
4Stephen Mirrioneeditor
5Gina Resnickproducer
6Karen Sprecherwriter