Mike Judge goes back to work this Labor Day weekend with his latest comedy, Extract. Known for his character driven films based on the everyday man, the director shifts his focus from the office to a manufacturing plant. Instead of highlighting the trials and tribulations of the average employee, the film is told from the perspective of the boss. With a cast led by the always funny Jason Bateman, Extract isn’t afraid to ask the tough questions. What would you do if one of your testicles got blown off at work?
- Director: Mike Judge
- Writer: Mike Judge
- Cast: Jason Bateman, Mila Kunis, Kristen Wiig, Ben Affleck, J.K. Simmons, Clifton Collins Jr., Dustin Mulligan, and David Koechner
Extract centers on Joel (Bateman), the owner of a food flavoring plant that employs about fifty of the craziest people you’ll ever meet. He keeps a cool and calm demeanor amongst his over the top staff, which includes two nagging middle aged women, a pseudo Goth rocker on a forklift, and a supervisor who can’t remember anyone’s name. To make matters worse, one of his employees Step (Clifton Collins Jr.), is involved in a freak accident that unfortunately results in one and a half of his “man parts” being blown to bits while on the job. This is the perfect opportunity for Cindy (Mila Kunis), to intervene and make her move. She plans on seducing Step into filing a huge lawsuit against the plant, so he’ll be awarded millions of dollars and in turn so will she.
- Jason Bateman: Bateman’s comedic delivery always comes off as effortless. He plays Joel like a sane man, who accidentally gets stuck in a mental institution. Everyone surrounding him slowly breaks down his defenses and little by little you see him go from this one dimensional good guy, to someone who has several poor lapses in judgement.
- Ben Affleck: We all knew that Ben Affleck had some comedic range from his earlier work (mainly with Kevin Smith), but it’s only now that we see the full extent of it. Affleck plays Dean, a drug dealing pimp, who doubles as a therapist and a bartender, and he plays the part pitch perfect. Dean is a satirical character, but Affleck keeps him from being borderline cartoonish.
- Comedy Backup: Bateman’s comedic style worked as well as it did mainly due to the over the top and hilarious performances by David Koechner, who played the annoying, slow talking, needy neighbor that we have all met at some point in our lives and Dustin Milligan, the ditsy pool boy whose only true talent is between the sheets. Both were spot on in their roles and were impossible not to laugh at.
- The Factory: The focus put on the actual workplace is one of the most important elements of the film. All the sub-characters and plots involved with the story stem from inside the company. Whether or not they want to admit it, the factory is what gives everyone a purpose.
- Directing: If you’re Mike Judge fan this movie has everything that you love about him; his style, his tone, his timing. It’s a well made comedy that entertains without dumbing anything down.
- Underdeveloped Characters: Mila Kunis and Kristen Wiig are greatly underused in this film. Neither one of their characters had any sort of arc. We don’t know why Cindy decides to live her life as a thief, she’s just a pretty girl who happens to be a kleptomaniac, THE END. With Wiig’s character Suzie, you get a glimpse into why she might cheat on her husband, but there’s no real exploration of that story. Her marital problems are glossed over in exchange for jokes about sweatpants and Dancing With the Stars. Bottom line, you have two great actresses, use them!
- Underdeveloped Story: (I’m being rather harsh here, I can see the argument, but had a good enough time that the following didn’t really matter to me…) This ties into the character issue. The story does not come full circle, and it doesn’t make any apologies for it. The last act of Extract is a bit scattered. A lot has to be assumed, and there’s no logic behind some of the final actions of the characters. I understand this is a comedy, but certain things just didn’t add up.
I enjoyed Extract. It’s a laugh out loud comedy that I definitely recommend for the holiday weekend. The good parts outweigh the bad, so it’s not a waste of your time or money. If you’re a fan of Mike Judge, Jason Bateman, or even Ben Affleck, you need to see this film.