Temps of the world unite! It's an ugly world out there for those
on the lowest rung of the business social ladder - the temporary
The four brave temps in first-time director Jill Sprecher's
irreverent CLOCKWATERS are ready to rebel against their oppression.
Treated with worse than disdain, they are alternately ignored and
ordered about like slave labor. Figuring that their latest employer,
Global Credit, cannot function without them, they take a vow to skip
work en masse one day. Follow-through, however, is not their strong
Marvelously cast, the film stars Toni Collette (MURIEL'S WEDDING)
as the timid and ambitionless worker, Iris, Parker Posey (THE HOUSE OF
YES) as the rebellious leader, Margaret, Lisa Kudrow (ROMY AND
MICHELE'S HIGH SCHOOL REUNION) as the no-talent, wannabe actress,
Paula, and Alanna Ubach (DENISE CALLS UP) as the would-be married,
Jane. Together they spend their hours looking busy while waiting for
the clock to strike 5. "I can sit there and do nothing as good as
anyone," Margaret explains in her rationale for why she should be
considered just as competent as the workers she fills in for.
Pamela Marcotte's sets create a scarily sterile office environment
that is creepily realistic. As devoid of personality as the landscape
of the moon, the office has small partitions to separate the clerical
workers and glass walls to ensconce the professional staff as the
business equivalent of the aristocracy.
The wry script, by the director and her sister, Karen Sprecher, is
full of subtle humor and poignancy. Even when the Dilbert-like
situations are exaggerated, they always possess gems of frightening
truth. One manager obsesses over office supply usage and another
issues stern memos warning about the personal use of corporate
resources, the phone system in this case. Whereas workers may not have
encountered these exact forms of corporate repression, most will be
able to identify with slight variations in the harassment.
Although the story is more a comedy of manners coupled with social
satire, it takes the time to develop the four women into real
characters with interesting backgrounds. The last half of the story
concerns a mystery about an office kleptomaniac, but the movie doesn't
leave much doubt about the identity of the miscreant.
The film creates four individuals whose plights are easy to
empathize with and who are naturally funny without trying to be so.
With its Kafkaesque plot, the characters are more pitiable than
hilarious, although they are both and usually at the same time.
CLOCKWATHCERS runs 1:36. It is rated PG-13 for a little profanity
and would be fine for kids around 10 and up although its office-based
humor may even be over the heads of most teenagers.
Copyright © 1998 Steve Rhodes