- Rated R
- Buy the BD
All photos © Miramax
Reviewed by Jason Zingale
ike Judge may be a bit of a cult figure in the animation world, but despite creating two of the most popular cartoons of the '90s with “Beavis and Butt-head” and “King of the Hill,” his name remains synonymous with the 1999 comedy, “Office Space.” After failing to replicate that success with “Idiocracy” (which is so terrible that it didn’t even deserve to see the light of day), Judge has returned to the workplace comedy with varying results. “Extract” is neither good nor bad, but rather a wildly uneven film that is deftly funny at some points, and just plain dull in others. What it lacks in consistency, however, it makes up for with a great ensemble cast dedicated to bringing Judge's trademark working class morons to life.
Jason Bateman stars as Joel Reynolds, the owner of a small extract company whose plans to sell the business are put on hold when a horrible accident sends one of his co-workers, Step (Clifton Collins Jr.), into the ER with one less testicle than he began the day with. Joel is confident that his insurance will cover the settlement, but when Step suddenly gets the idea to hire a sleazy lawyer (Gene Simmons) and sue him, the company is put at risk for bankruptcy. To make matters worse, Joel’s sex life has become virtually nonexistent, so when a smoking hot temp named Cindy (Mila Kunis) begins work at the factory, he hires an aspiring gigolo (Dustin Milligan) to seduce his wife (Kristen Wiig) so that he can pursue her guilt-free. What he doesn’t realize, however, is that there’s more to Cindy than she’s letting on.
If that sounds more complicated than you expected, it’s because the trailer didn’t do a very good job of explaining what the movie was really about. As far as Miramax is concerned, “Extract” is an off-the-wall romantic comedy starring Jason Bateman and Mila Kunis, when in actuality, it’s a black comedy about the hardships of running a small business. Think of it like “Office Space” from the point of view of Bill Lumbergh, only instead of being a dry, arrogant asshole, Joel Reynolds is actually well-liked by his peers. In fact, despite getting second billing, Kunis is hardly even in the movie, and she only appears when the plot absolutely requires her to. Unfortunately, that isn’t very often, and when her storyline finally does come to a close, it’s concluded so quickly and smoothly that all of the trouble she causes along the way seems almost unnecessary.
Kunis isn’t the only wasted cast member, either. J.K. Simmons appears in the thankless role of Joel’s right-hand man (a character whose only distinguishable trait is that he calls all of the factory workers “dingus”), while Kristen Wiig’s housewife is so underdeveloped that we're never given any reason as to why she would cheat on her husband. Thankfully, Bateman is a seasoned pro when it comes to playing the hapless everyman and he really steps up the quality of the film. His scenes with Ben Affleck, who plays Joel's best friend, are some of the funniest moments – particularly a trippy drug scene featuring Matt Schulze as a man as intimidating as the bong he smokes from.
Nevertheless, for all the A-list talent involved, the real stars of “Extract” are the secondary characters. Judge always populates his projects with these kinds of blue-collar losers, and this time around, he has a whole factory filled with them. (One is even played by Judge himself). The best of the bunch, though, are Beth Grant’s twangy slacker, a woman who spends more time complaining than she does actually working, and Dustin Milligan’s incompetent gigolo, a village idiot who brings new meaning to the phrase “so easy even a caveman could do it.” Their performances alone make “Extract” more enjoyable than it probably should have been, because although fans of Judge's work will find plenty to love about his new film, the only thing most people will take away is the sad realization that he’s never going to make another movie like “Office Space.”
Single-Disc Blu-Ray Review:
For a director whose career was built on home video, the single-disc release of Mike Judge’s “Extract” is a colossal disappointment. With the exception of an EPK-style making-of featurette that doesn’t exactly tell you much, the Blu-ray edition includes five short extended scenes and a deleted scene with Ben Affleck and Jason Bateman.