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Director: Jill Sprecher Run Time: 96 min. Rating: PG-13 Release Year: 1997
Starring: Alanna Ubach, Helen FitzGerald, Lisa Kudrow, Parker Posey, Toni Collette
Celebrate International Women’s Day!
While she tries to determine her career goals, Iris (Toni Collette) becomes a temporary worker for Global Credit. There, all the regular employees ignore her, so she becomes friendly with three other temps: socializing actress Paula (Lisa Kudrow), conceited Jane (Alanna Ubach) and rebellious Margaret (Parker Posey). Though Margaret pines for a permanent job with the company, a rash of office thefts makes people suspicious of her, and Iris wonders whether or not to stand behind her new friend.
Film critic Marshall Shafer (and our former wunder-intern) wrote an entire piece on why Clockwatchers should be considered a cult classic, “It’s tempting to look at Clockwatchers as a kind of feminine predecessor to Mike Judge’s Office Space (a film Early says he still has not seen “truly just in protest because it was more successful”). Sprecher has a similar skill for adding expressive minutiae to the environment that now feels entirely of a different period – the muzak playing softly in the waiting room, the dim glow of fluorescent lighting, those claustrophobic cubicles. Even an object like a rubber band ball feels chosen with consideration and care for how it embodies the neatly entangled web of relations within a depressingly generic environment. This could be any office in the world in the late ‘90s, and yet it’s also ruthlessly specific.
But while the two might share a cold corporate milieu that now feels like a bit of a time capsule as their setting, Clockwatchers shares more DNA with the era’s prickly American comedies like Todd Solondz’ Welcome to the Dollhouse. Through four female workers at a nondescript credit company, Sprecher explores the way how sterile workplaces facilitate the formation of fast friendship between Iris and a trio of fellow temps played by Kudrow, Posey, and Ubach – as well as how quickly those bonds can fizzle under the stress of a management crackdown. Her keen observational eye for how absurd details can contain both droll and devastating dimensions drives home how the modern worker is often little more than a dehumanized and replaceable cog ground down in a larger machine.”