Sunday, July 3, 2011

Extract (2009)

Mike Judge's 'Laugh Extract'

- Extract is most definitely a Mike Judge film - and yes, that is a very good thing in this case. Like Judge's first great film Office Space (1999), Extract is a funny comedy about an everyman who cannot catch a break. However, whereas Office Space looks at employees and their struggle against a cold, blank management body, Extract focuses on the boss and his struggle against a stupid and selfish group of employees.

The boss in Extract is suburban everyman Joel (Jason Bateman) who manages his own extract plant. Joel's life is, unlucky for him, far more complicated than just being unhappy at work: he drives home from work every day only to be ambushed by his chatty and irritating neighbor and, when finally escaping the nauseating chatter and is able to walk through his own front door, his hopes for marital intimacy are constantly denied by his wife Suzie (Kristen Wiig). To top it all off, one of his employees is suing the plant for an on-the-job injury and a sexy but mysterious new temp Cindy (Mila Kunis) has Joel obsessed.

So.... Joel just goes on with his life.... No! He self-medicates at the bar that his stoner friend Dean (Ben Affleck) works at! After a bit too much to drink one night (specifically, being too drunk to say "no" to Dean's offering of a fun little pill) Joel listens to Dean's suggestion that Joel get a male prostitute to have sex with his wife so that Joel is free to pursue Cindy. Do I really need to say the plot thickens from here?

Since his fantastic portrayal of Michael Bluth in "Arrested Development" Jason Bateman has been a kind of hot commodity in Hollywood but is usually cast in a small supporting role. Always reliable and entertaining, Bateman goes the extra mile in Extract and gives his best performance since "Arrested Development" went off the air. The Joel character has Bateman's "everyman" presence, charmingly awkward expressions, and hilarious comedic timing and delivery but Bateman is more vulnerable and desperate than usual here in Extract. Bateman's showing makes the film worthwhile all by itself.
The usually worthless Ben Affleck is surprisingly good here too, very funny as Dean, Mila Kunis is well cast as the sultry Cindy, and Kristen Wiig also gives a good supporting performance as Joel's wife Suzie. As important as Jason Bateman is to the enjoyment level of Extract, Mike Judge's hilarious script and tight direction are what make the film effective. The old saying "you don't know what you've got until it's gone" is the big theme through Extract, and the theme is projected through very funny means.

CBC Rating: 7/10

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