December 23, 2009
Mike Judge may have enjoyed considerable success on television with Beavis and Butthead and King of the Hill but he continues to have an unlucky streak with feature films. His first two efforts – Office Space (1999) and Idiocracy (2006) – were given little to no promotion and died a quick death in theaters only to find new life on home video. With a change of studio for his latest film, Extract (2009), there was the hope that Judge’s work would finally get decent distribution and a promotional push. However, his film only enjoyed a marginal amount more of exposure under the rapidly deteriorating Miramax banner. Maybe if Harvey Weinstein was still at the helm things might’ve been different (but then again, with his current money woes, maybe not).
Joel (Bateman) owns Reynold’s Extract, a successful flavour extract company. In his spare time, he tries to avoid his overly friendly/talky next-door neighbour (Koechner). The love has faded from his marriage with his unhappy wife (Wiig). At least he can tell his troubles to his best friend Dean, an easy-going bartender (Affleck). Joel is fielding potential offers to sell his company but a possible spanner is thrown into the works when the assembly line floor manager (Collins Jr.) gets involved in a freak accident. An additional wrinkle appears in the form of a beautiful con artist named Cindy (Kunis) who tries to capitalize on the accident.
The real surprise of the film is scene stealer Ben Affleck who gets all the best lines as Jason Bateman’s carefree best friend. For example, there’s a scene where Dean meets Joel at work and also bumps into Cindy. Clearly impressed by her natural beauty, Dean says to his friend, “I’ve never seen a woman anywhere near that hot working here,” to which Joel deadpans, “Makes sense though, huh? I mean hot girls need jobs too, right?” Dean gets a thought expression, which is priceless, and replies, “Do they really?” Affleck’s character then casually mentions that “most of your temps look like winos.” He looks sort of like the Dude’s younger brother and kinda acts like him too. Ever since Affleck hit rock bottom with the double whammy of Gigli (2003) and Jersey Girl (2004), he’s gradually made a comeback, taking on character actor gigs, like Hollywoodland (2006) and working behind the camera as he did with his auspicious directorial debut on Gone Baby Gone (2007). Affleck seems much more relaxed and looser in his performance style.
Bateman is fine in the role of Joel but seems to be playing a variation of his long-suffering character on Arrested Development. The humor in Extract is laid-back and doesn’t have the amount of laughs that Judge had in Office Space and is not as heavy on the satire as in Idiocracy. There are a couple of laugh out moments, like when Dean gets Joel to smoke a bong. It doesn’t help that Joel becomes more unlikeable as the film progresses and the balance between funny and uncomfortable moments is thrown all out of whack. Ultimately, Extract is a decent time waster but not as funny as we’ve come to expect from Judge’s films.
“Mike Judge’s Secret Recipe” takes a look at the making of the film. Judge said that Extract was based in part on his experiences working in a factory. The cast speak highly of him and praise each other with many clips from the film inserted throughout. Judge says that he cast Affleck because he was a fan of his character actor roles in films like Dazed and Confused (1993). This is pretty standard press kit material.