Cubes (2006) / Comedy
MPAA Rated: Not rated, but would be R for pervasive strong language, some nudity ad sexuality
Running time: 99 min.
Cast: Ellen O'Brien, Connie Sinavage, Steve Stylinski, Jack Evans, Greg Korin, Jessica Chorey, Conor McGuigan
Director: Jason Sherry
Screenplay: Mark Zdancewicz
Review published May 27, 2007
Cubes is a very low budget comedy (IMDB cites its production costs as a mere $2,000, which seems too low to believe) that takes its name from the cubicles that most of us who work in office environments inhabit. These mini-offices are supposed to give us personal space, but in reality, put us even closer to one another than an open space environment would probably afford. As a result, personal habits often encroach into out daily operations, including having to overhear loud conversations on the telephone, smelling coworkers' food or cologne, and the frequent random visits to your personal workspace from idle chatters who have nothing else to do, so they assume that you must not as well.
The film is a series of vignettes, taking place over the course of a year, that are conversations involving two of the employees in the office, sharing adjacent cubicles. Charlene (O'Brien) is the bitchy woman in the office, using people when she needs it, but never realizing that the rest of the people hate her. Laurie (Sinavage) is the sweet-natured goodie-goodie, who loves flowers and stuffed animals, and drives everyone nuts by always wanting attention. Elliot (McGuigan, Kickball!: The Movie) is Laurie's shmoozy ex-husband, who walked out after finding out she is pregnant. Ted (Stylinski) is the slacker in the office who does nothing but eat at his desk, listen to polka, and spend 45 minutes in the can with a newspaper. Barry (Evans) is the new hotshot who is busy trying to work his way up the corporate ladder, working overtime with big dreams of starting his own business. Lindsey (Chorey) is the office slut, who slept with the boss to get the job, and will sexually service whoever she needs to for assistance on a project she wants done. Few of them get along, but that's the office environment -- a place of forced tolerance that sometimes boils over into making life there uninhabitable.
Nearly the entire production is set in the same two adjacent cubicles, with one new employee joining when another leaves. Each new employee brings a new dynamic to the conversation, and furthers the overall story of what goes on in the company and how it's hard to cope with this new information. Many of the conversations involve who is sleeping with whom, and almost all of them deal with personal issues that they are looking for someone to listen to for the duration of their working together.
Cubes is relatively innocuous, but it does suffer by comparison to bigger and better office comedies, namely Office Space and the television series (both British and American), "The Office". While some of the situations are amusing (Lindsey's obsession with role-playing as Trinity and Neo from The Matrix during sex, Ted's constant spouting of information most people don't want to hear), the really funny material is fairly sparse and sporadic. It's pretty vulgar at times, and certainly, many of these employees would be getting the lash for sexual harassment at my place of employment, but it is a comedy after all, so some liberties are necessary for the good stuff. As enjoyable as the format is, I just wish the material were a bit more polished and succinct.
Given the limited budget, DV camera work, and only one shooting location, it is an impressive endeavor, and while no one would confuse Cubes as a big budget production, if the budget really were under $10k, it's certainly a commendable effort. The casting is quite good, with each actor playing well for their respective roles, although the stiffness (probably due to some of the actors not always present even in two-person conversations) is ever present, with some conversations needing to be pieced together in post-production.
As a piece to showcase the talent of director Jason Sherry, writer Mark Zdancewicz, and any of the actors in the cast, this is certainly a solid indie project to use to promote themselves in the hope of doing bigger and better things. As a standalone film, it's probably only of appeal to those who thoroughly enjoy office comedies, especially if you can relate to some of the characters that inhabit the world of Cubes.
©2007 Vince Leo