Extract

Flavored Judge

         
 

04 September 2009| No Comments     by Sean Chavel

 

Destined to be overlooked and appreciated later. With Extract, writer-director Mike Judge is looking at the flipside of his cult classic “Office Space.” In that film, he was looking at corporate drones overly policed by their dehumanized bosses. But this time, Judge makes his protagonist a company president who has to fend against flunky employees who constantly take their eyes off of the production line at his flavor factory. With less than thirty employees, his small business produces vanilla extract and other additives.

Jason Bateman (the PR guy in “Hancock,” the accountant in “Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporium”), the go-to guy for bottled-up contempt, is Joel, the once proud owner of this company before he hit a personal rut. It’s not so much scorn for his employees – he seems to give them regular passes even after mistakes – it’s disdain for his marriage at home. He can’t figure out what is wrong with this wife Suzie (Kristen Wiig) who seems perpetually disinterested. When she wears sweat pants at home, it’s the modern day equivalent of a self-applied chastity belt.

One day a bad accident at work severs off the testicle of his would-be floor manager Step (Clifton Collins, Jr.). Joel and his right-hand man Brian (J.K. Simmons) convince their pushover employee not to sue. Everything seems settled on the legal front, all during the course of this time Joel is negotiating an offer to sell the factory. Yet during these negotiations, he becomes smitten with a replacement employee, the smoking hot Cindy (Mila Kunis), a devilish vixen in blue plaid. Within no time, Cindy schemes to romance the testicle-less employee Step and convince him to sue the company. Kunis makes con artistry look sexy.

Most of the comedy is about lust and what self-destructive mistakes it drives a man to commit. Joel, a usually reasonable and pragmatic guy, can’t see the writing on the wall with Cindy. He gets drunk and stoned one night with his bud Dean (Ben Affleck, who proves he’s best when he’s playing a regular beer-swilling guy) and hatches an idea. Joel admits with Dean that he would cheat on his wife if she were to cheat on him first, a conceit that would not make him feel guilty about adultery. Dean sets him up with an imbecile gigolo (Dustin Milligan) who is to pretend to be the pool boy who goes over to his home to seduce his wife while Joel is away at work during the day.

Joel wakes up from his bender, acknowledges the foolish transaction he made the previous night, and decides to call the whole thing off. Only thing is it is too late, as the gigolo shows up forty-five minutes early and has already seduced his wife. Joel doesn’t confront his wife about her unfaithful behavior right away, which becomes a mistake when his temper starts to boil. It’s harder for the incident to slide off his shoulders when the gigolo makes repeat unscheduled house visits. When Joel finds out about the repeats, he is understandably outraged. “15 times?! It hasn’t even been 15 days!”

We are really looking at the comic stressors of a small business owner over the course, of say, five or six days. Maybe more, maybe less. The slack narrative doesn’t really let us feel the passage of time. We do care though about certain aspects of the plot like whether Joel will figure out Cindy’s gold-digging nature, about whether he will tame his desire for Cindy, about whether he will reignite the flame in his marriage, and about whether or not he will go through and sell the company and retire young.

On Judge’s checklist is a whacked-out cameo by Gene Simmons as Step’s ambulance chasing attorney, and David Koechner is the intrusive neighbor who has no clue that he invades Joel’s personal space on a daily basis (some might find this to be the funniest element of the entire movie). Also, stay tuned for a deliciously smutty mock ’70’s porno style dream sequence.

As you can probably tell, there’s a lot of funny touches outside the central plot perimeter. This modest, medium-simmered comedy however is less ambitious than Judge’s previous films – it doesn’t blow the lid off of its potential. “Extract” is not on the level of Judge’s cult classics “Office Space” and “Idiocracy,” but it contains such shrewd nuances that you could probably turn it into repeat viewings on video.

92 Minutes. Rated R.

COMEDY / WORKER PEOPLE / WEEKDAY NIGHT MOVIE AFTER WORK

Film Cousins: “Swimming with Sharks” (1994); “Clockwatchers” (1997); “Office Space” (1999); “Idiocracy” (2006).

 

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Sean Chavel

About The Author / Sean Chavel

Sean Chavel is a Hollywood based author and movie reviewer. He is the Executive Director of flickminute.com, a new website that has adapted the movie review site genre by introducing moodbased and movie experience based reviews.

 

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