Office work is funny business

An unexpected hit movie looks at the humorous side of the misery that reigns over cubicle kingdoms, Xu Fan reports.

By XU FAN | China Daily | Updated: 2024-02-08 08:57
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A still of Li Naiwen, who portrays a vice-president. CHINA DAILY

"However, it turned out that we had imagined more difficulties than we actually encountered. We solved the key challenges in just five days."

The method sounds simple but was demanding — they treated the movie not as a comedy but as a story that should unfold according to its own logic.

"At first, we tried hard to write funny lines for the characters. But when you intentionally add jokes into dialogues, it may not quite work with the plotline. Dong was the first to realize this problem. He persuaded me to not consider the comedic elements but to imagine what would happen to the characters," she says.

After all, the story itself, about a blue-collar worker who obtains an absurd promotion to ultimately become the deputy head of the human resources department, is already satirical.

"No matter what the characters do or what they say, as long as they do it following the natural logic of the plot, it will be funny," Ying explains.

Dong, who joined his wife during the online interview, recalls that he also read news stories for inspiration. One that impressed him was a report about a homeless man who sneaked into a high-rise office building in Beijing's Wangjing area in 2020.

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