A Review by Jason L. King
Starring: Jason Bateman, Kristin Wiig, Ben Affleck, JK Simmons, Mila Kunis
Directed by: Mike Judge
Rated: R for language, sexual references and some drug use
Movie Released: 2009
One of my favorite films to kick back, relax and enjoy is Office Space. Whenever I get in a bad mood, and am sickened by the corporate environment, I find nothing more soothing for my loathing of the corporate hierarchy than Mike Judge’s tale of a white collar worker who hates his job. The comedy works so wonderfully with characters you can relate to an office antics that are the norm at nearly any office job. When I heard Mike Judge was making a film about blue collar factory workers, I was more than ready to be entertained again by a man who is one of the kings of the everyday working man comedy.
Extract follows a business owner (Jason Bateman) as he struggles to deal with his professional and personal issues. On the brink of selling his flavor extract company to a big corporate giant he forced to deal with employees who are trying to take advantage of him and a wife whom he believes in unfaithful. Guided by the misguided advice of his college buddy and pot smoking local bartender (Ben Affleck), he begins down a path that just might lead to the destruction of every good thing he has going for him.
In many ways Judge scores again by creating characters that anyone who works in a factory like setting can relate to. From the aged gossipy ladies in quality control, to the Hispanic immigrant worker, to the uninterested metal rocker that runs the fork lift, as a viewer you are bound to find a character who just might remind you of someone in your blue collar job. However, unlike office space, I felt like Judge was pushing these characters too far, and playing the stereotype too much. Because of that, we got charactures of people rather than truly real, relate able human beings.
Mixed with the factory worker comedy, you have the side story of the potentially unfaithful wife and the misguided ramblings of Affleck’s character. Both of these antics add to the over all movie, yet once again these feel forced and over blown as the plot thickens. Moments such as Bateman’s sexually frustrated rant about 8 pm being “sweatpants time and once the sweatpants go on, they are never coming off” are humorous, but get over shadowed again by outlandish ideas like a dumb as a post gigalo who falls in love with Bateman’s wife. Because of this, the side stories fall victim to the same fate as the factory storyline. It simply seems forced and over done.
Perhaps the biggest failure of the film is the Mila Kunis storyline. For some reason Judge felt it necessary to throw in Kunis as a attractive con artist who will stop at nothing to make enough money to run away from the one horse town she grew up in. This storyline feels out of place, and isn’t really needed. She advances the plot in 2 different ways, one involving a law suit and the other is Bateman’s unfaithful wife angle. However, the side story of her being a con artist wasn’t really needed for either of these plot points to work. In other words, her character could have been down played a lot, and she could have just been portrayed as a regular small town girl who advances the plot line. None the less, Judge forces her role into the movie once again making this film way too over blown and unrealistic. Along side Kunis in an other forced performance was the pressuring annoying next door neighbor, played by David Koechner, a name that may not be recognizable, he will be an instantly recognizable face. Once again, his character seems out of place and forced and is wastefully used to end the film.
Despite many the unkind words I have spoken about Extract, I did get some good laughs. There is some really great comedy in the movie, it’s just jammed in this cluttered mess of a film. There are hints of Mike Judge humor all over the place, and even though I really didn’t agree with the direction the film was going, I had an all around good laugh as it took me there. But the true humor lies in the little things the film has to offer, such as the bickering between two rednecks about a stolen truck, ordering Pepsi only from Pizza Hut delivery, and a sweat pants scenes.
I left Extract having not hated the film, but having not enjoyed it either. Something was missing from the film. Perhaps because I have know that Mike Judge can make a better film, I had a higher expectation for it. But much like his previous film, Idiocracy, this film stumbles. It lacks the charm and wit of Judge’s previous works like Office Space had, and the TV show King of The Hill. I’ll leave it up to you to make the final decision, but I think we can chalk Extract up as another near miss for Mike Judge.