Director Mike Judge has a devout following, even if you've never indulged in one of his films or television shows you know them anyone. Films like Office Space and shows like King of the Hill permeate down to the casual observer which leads us to his latest film offering, Extract. While supposedly having the same sensibilities as his last movie, Office Space, Extract just seems like a hollow affair with a lot of set-up and no pay-off.
Joel (Jason Bateman) tries hard to be a strong boss to his lazy employees working in his extract plant, but after years of being taken advantage of, Joel has had enough. Before he can sell his company and retire, an employee loses a testicle and sues the company. As if that's not bad enough Joel has to deal with a cheating wife (Kristin Wiig) and a sneaky con-woman (Mila Kunis) who is attempting to take his company for all its worth.
Extract is definitely a film that audiences can relate to. Ignoring all semblances of plot or structure, the characters that director Judge is such an expert at crafting will find a home with viewers since everyone knows a person like one of the main players. Nosy neighbor Nathan, played by David Koechner, is hilarious with his constant need to bombard Joel and his wife with invitations to dinners and ignoring their lazy “no thank you's.” Beth Grant may be playing the same character but who hasn't worked with someone like her character Mary, a loud-mouthed employee who is constantly refusing to work until everyone else does. Clifton Collins, Jr. and J.K. Simmons are also relatable and funny in their scenes, more so Collins who loses a testicle in a scene that will make you wince and laugh out loud at the same time. The scene stealer throughout though is Ben Affleck as Joel's best friend Dean, a man who always seems to have a drug handy that will supposedly help Joel solve his problems. His scenes and dialogue seem to be the strongest, mainly since he isn't such a big part. And while everyone may have laughed at his dialogue in the trailer (“She's a tramp!”), a certain line at the end involving the male gigolo Brad made me laugh long after the movie was over. An interesting thing that comes with Extract is how likeable Joel is. He's a boss who simply loves to make extract, a career choice that doesn't yield him much money or respect, but at the end of the day he loves going to work. This is a rather small part of the movie, but it makes Joel seem more complex as he's not the typical employer who spends the entirety of the film behind a desk.
Maybe as my first foray into a Judge movie I expected too much, but I never found Extract particularly funny. Sure individual characters were great but the plot just seems all over the place. There's a subplot involving Joel's wife Suzie and the pool boy Brad that seems to end before it begins, mainly because we only ever hear Joel and Brad talk about it, we have no evidence of an affair otherwise. On that front Wiig seems to be trying to channel Jennifer Aniston in her appearance and demeanor which makes her look uncomfortable. For a hilarious actress like Wiig, this was a thankless role. Surprisingly Mila Kunis is featured on the DVD packaging, but has a minor role that never pans out. Sure she makes Collins, Jr. character Step sue the company and there's a heartless attempt to seduce Joel, but she's in and out of the film so often she barely registers. There's no explanation of her as a character and the last half of the movie has no mention of her whatsoever. The movie doesn't seem to know how dark or comedic to take things and with that there's a real disjoint with all the stories that never connects. Joel starts to seem like a doormat at the end because he never truly vents his frustration about anything, even when it seems like he's trying to.
The DVD only has a making-of featurette that offers standard interviews with cast and crew about the story. There's a lot of behind-the-scenes footage of working in a real factory but it's nothing that can't be seen on YouTube.
If Extract taught me anything it's that I need to see Office Space. Judge seems hysterical in the snippets here, but the plot just gets lost in the characters, making them all seem lost at sea with nowhere to go. This will find a home with die-hard Judge fans and is a pleasing distraction if there's nothing else.