Mike (Sean Astin) and Rodney (Michael Vartan) are “in” with their boss, Bob (Robert Klein), which emboldens them to do whatever they want. That includes disrespecting the secretaries, acting like vulgar sex mongers, and bullying their co-workers, including Castro (David Cross). But when Bob dies unexpectedly, the office dynamic is thrown up in the air, and Castro winds up on top. And that’s when things get interesting.
Castro demotes his enemies to secretary, and proceeds to make their lives more and more miserable. Ron White takes a turn as Rodney’s new boss, while Patrick St. Espirit helps make Rodney’s life worse by applying pressure as the father of Rodney’s would-be bride. The film descends into the typical locker room “show me yours and I’ll show you mine” that you’d expect of American Pie producers, but underneath, there’s something else going on.
Mike and Rodney treated everyone terribly because they could, and didn’t think anything of it. When Castro turns the tables, and proves to be terrible to everyone as well, they slowly begin to realize how their actions impacted others. They see that the secretaries were miserable answering to them, and they recognize that they were terrible to Castro.
But Castro, tasting power, has no interest in turning back. Despite subtle and direct warnings, Castro makes their sales company suffer financially and relationally. While Castro was bullied and has a chance to do it differently, he doesn’t; when Mike and Rodney get their act together, thanks in part to the graciousness of the secretaries’ circle, they see that they need to change.
Having bullied and been bullied, I can see the vicious cycle. While we want to pretend this is “just a kid’s problem” and “they’ll grow out of it,” it’s a problem that has to be addressed. Jesus addressed it: he said we shouldn’t seek positions of honor but that the “first will be last and the last will be first.” Jesus knew our inclination was to glory and power… and bullying, and he begged his followers to be different.
Thankfully, our anti-heroes learn their lesson, and they change. If you can watch the movie, and slog through the locker room, you might just be reminded of what it feels to be outcast and how you can respond, either by rising up or helping others do the same.