September 4, 2009
Review - " Extract " - (in theaters) By Roland Hansen
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blame Joel; it's all Dean's idea. Plus, Joel had accidentally taken a horse tranquilizer with his whiskey. All that, and I didn't
even mention the guy who loses a testicle in a freak factory accident that would make the "The Final Destination" folks
proud. Oh, and J.K. Simmons is excellent, as always.
A lot is made of the dialogue of screenwriters like Kevin Smith, Quentin Tarantino or Diablo Cody. But Mr. Judge does "real"
realer than the showy verbal calisthenics trafficked by his colleagues. In "Extract" his writing feels as relaxed as it's ever
been. He's not trying to prove anything (as he was with "Idiocracy"). He just lets his characters be. And he does have a
knack for characters. The film is full of classic Judge "types" like the impossibly talkative neighbor (David Koechner) and the
guy who only calls people by nicknames like "Dingus"
and "Boy Genius" (Mr. Simmons).
But this is Joel's film. And in Jason Bateman, Mr. Judge may have found his perfect leading man. No one does exhausted
exasperation like Mr. Bateman. After honing that skill to a fine point on TV's much-mourned "Arrested Development" (even
this film's poster is reminiscent of
that show's DVD box art), Mr.
Bateman has created a significant
career in supporting roles ("State
of Play", "Juno"). Here, standing
front-and-center, he walks away
with the film. He can get a laugh
from a wordless reaction shot like
a pro. It's good to see him getting
the spotlight. He also participates
in one of the funnier pot smoking
scenes I can remember.
Interestingly, and despite the film's
title, the flavor industry itself isn't
played for laughs. And that's
indicative of Mr. Judge's
skill. When the writer-director is at
his best, he doesn't snicker at his
subjects, he empathizes with them;
the humor comes from the
absurdity inherent in their situation.
And while Mr. Judge may not understand factory life as well as office life, "Extract" has enough laughs to make it a comedy
worth seeing. It's not likely to reach the cult heights of "Office Space", but it's sure to satisfy if you're looking for that certain
Mike Judge flavor.
Directed by: Mike Judge
Starring: Jason Bateman, Mila Kunis, Kristen Wiig, Ben Affleck, JK
Simmons, Gene Simmons
Ten years after "Office Space" became a cultural touchstone for
cubicle warriors the world over, and after a brief detour into absurdity
with 2006's unwatchable "Idiocracy" (the film's wit ended with its title),
Mike Judge returns to form with the workplace comedy "Extract".
In the film, Jason Bateman plays Joel, the owner and operator of a
flavor extract factory. Joel is a working stiff with a typical Mike Judge
problem: he's not gettin' any at home. If Joel doesn't make it home
from work by 8pm, his wife (SNL's Kristin Wiig, successfully playing it
straight) cinches the waist on her sweatpants into an impenetrable
bow, making the prospect of hanky-panky a nonstarter. Joel spends
most nights at a local watering hole, where long-haired bartender
Dean (Ben Affleck, relaxing behind a shaggy wig) dispenses drinks
with a side of bad advice and, occasionally, drugs.
The plot is set in motion with the arrival of Cindy, Mila Kunis
("Forgetting Sarah Marshall"), a pretty young intern who also happens
to be a sociopathic kleptomaniac. You may have noticed that women
are not painted in the best light in the film. The gender's only
representatives are either psycho, cold or, in the case of Beth Grant's
line worker, shrill bigots. The misogyny is a bit discomforting,
especially considering that the plot involves Joel's attempt to pay-off a
young stud to seduce his wife thereby allowing him to have a
guilt-free affair with Cindy. But somehow, in Mr. Judge's capable
comedic hands, it works without seeming creepy. Firstly, you can't