(2009)3Cammila CollarYou can't blame Mike Judge fans for going into Extract with some preconceived notions. His past two movies, Office Space and Idiocracy, have both become cult classics, and are pretty unequivocally hilarious. And the filmmaker's 2009 effort, Extract, is certainly funny. There's plenty of Judge's now-signature brand of humor -- lots of funny little insights about the things that drive people insane about modern life, like a neighbor with aviator-sized eyeglasses who talks forever and makes you dread leaving the house, or the lady at work who wears clean white sweatshirts with airbrushed pictures of cats on them. There's plenty to laugh at in Extract, for sure, but will it find its place in the pantheon of Judge's other great works? That's less certain.
The movie stars Jason Bateman as Joel, the owner of a company that makes flavor extracts for baking. He's your typical unsatisfied member of upper-middle-class society, working long hours overseeing a group of often-intolerable people, driving his BMW home to his McMansion too late to beat his wife's deadline for sex, dreaming at every moment that his company could be bought out, so he can spend the rest of his days doing nothing. Such a buyout actually looms on the horizon, but before it can go through, some typical shenanigans by the workers at his plant cause an accident that results in one of his sorters losing a testicle, and a lawsuit threatens all his plans. Simultaneously, Joel finds himself reaching a breaking point with his petered-out marriage, just as a hot little con artist named Cindy (Mila Kunis) takes up working at the plant as a ploy to get near the mono-testicled employee's possible settlement money. So, naturally, Joel's party-animal best friend, Dean (a surprisingly funny and extremely hairy Ben Affleck), convinces him to hire a gigolo to seduce his wife, in order to create a morality loophole that would allow him to cheat with Cindy (though, in all fairness, he does it under the influence of Ketamine, which Dean mistakes for a valium). And, of course, hilarity ensues. Sort of.
There are some great moments in Extract, but not as many as we've gotten accustomed to -- you have to wonder why Kristen Wiig was chosen to play Joel's wife, when she practically never utters a single funny line. And while the plot is a great device for Judge's powers of comedic observation, it seems to come and go without any real sense of jeopardy, building toward a climax, but then skipping to the resolution before the story actually peaks. It's by no means a bad movie, and perhaps it's unfair to view it in the context of other films. But keeping past precedent in mind, it's hard not to feel a little like Joel -- despite everything you do have, you can't help feeling a little unsatisfied.
Jason Bateman, Mila Kunis, Ben Affleck, Kristen Wiig, Clifton Collins, and J.K. Simmons star in writer/director Mike Judge's comedy about a flower-extract plant owner contending with an ever-growing avalanche of personal and professional disasters. An employee at the factory has just suffered an unfortunate accident on the assembly line, but little does the put-upon owner realize that things are about to get much worse. As the injured employee threatens to sue and it begins to look like his company will be bought out, the frazzled owner attempts to catch the culprit responsible for stealing wallets from the coat room and begins to suspect that his wife is sleeping with the gigolo he hired to seduce her.