Thus the dialog, which really we owe to Acker and Blacker, whose credits include Supernatural, only enhances the fun, silly elements of Drones. A laid-back somewhat immature guy, who’s perhaps content in his work because he’s a bit of a slacker, has just stepped up the timetable for the destruction of our planet. The only way he might be able to save it is to make up with his girlfriend. Only that’s something he’s feeling too petulant to do at the moment.
The real joy of Drones, however, is the bit I mentioned above, the “what if?” Once we find out about Clark and Amy we turn our eyes on the other characters populating their workplace. It’s not such an outlandish consideration: think of Office Space’s Milton and tell me you couldn’t have easily gone along with a story line in which he was an alien. Most of Brian’s co-workers suddenly seem suspect: they all have their strange ticks. Any one of them could be aliens, because apparently Omnilink is a hotbed for extraterrestrial activity. That or the aliens find it a prime example of the average Earth life. Perhaps that’s not such a misguided assumption.
Anyone’s bound to be driven crazy by the monotony so often found under the buzzing fluorescent lights of an office building. We all develop our own quirks, coping mechanisms on which we rely to get us through the drudgery. In Drones, those idiosyncrasies could mean so much more.
Story lines that seemed secondary before, like another workplace romance that played on the sidelines to Brian and Amy’s, become absorbing. What if the heartbroken Miryam also turns out to be an alien? That could be disaster for Ian. Previously we didn’t care at all what happened to Ian, but now he’s interesting because his fate includes potential death by alien. If nothing else, it’s entertaining to watch Amy try to take her emotional cues from Miryam (and even funnier to think that maybe Amy is copying from a fellow alien, not a human like she thinks; after all, she didn’t know about Clark, nor he about her).
I hesitate to call Drones the new Office Space, even though obviously I’ve had no qualms about making a few references. But it functions in many of the same ways, even in that we have a reluctant almost man-child hero having to fix a problem of his own making. This time the stakes are greater, and Brian is less at fault for causing the problem in the first place. How was he supposed to know that his girlfriend was an alien, or that she’s new to this whole emotions thing and is thus very touchy?
In its own quiet way Drones brings a new sort of realism to the concept of the alien movie, inheriting some ideas or at least a bit of a tone from The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. If there is other life out there, then it has its own normal problems too. Aliens probably get the doldrums and many of them could be forced to live out drone-like existences in offices just like us. They have relationship drama, workplace hierarchy, annoying bosses, and weird co-workers. Take a look around your office and wonder: What if?
Watch Drones on Netflix Instant, or you can buy the DVD at Amazon.
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