Extract (2009)
Extract (2009)

Genre: Comedy Running Time: 1 hr. 31 min.

Release Date: September 4th, 2009 MPAA Rating: R

Director: Mike Judge Actors: Jason Bateman, Mila Kunis, Kristen Wiig, Ben Affleck, J. K. Simmons

 


 

M

ike Judge’s latest effort is both surprising and refreshing in its presentation. The director’s talent for creating unique and eccentric characters is still foremost in this manifestation of troubled blue collar workers and their disastrous dealings, but a much subtler humor finds its way into the everyday situations that become proportionally expanded for comedic appeal. Yet the inclusion of generally inoffensive jocosity creates a calmer and more interesting look at the mishaps of people that feel more real than the overblown, overly exaggerated caricatures of the easier gross-out angles. Though there are still a few miscues and unrealized potential in a handful of the humorous encounters, the variety of characters keeps a consistent level of amusement not found in the more crude samplings of the genre.

Joel (Jason Bateman), the owner of an extract manufacturing plant, constantly finds himself in precarious situations that steadily worsen by the minute. First, his soon-to-be floor manager acquires a serious injury in a machine malfunctioning accident that subsequently endangers the wellbeing of his company. Second, his personal life doesn’t fair much better when he takes the advice of his bartending friend Dean (Ben Affleck), during a drug-induced brainstorming session, on how to test his wife’s faithfulness. Finally, compounding these catastrophes is new employee Cindy (Mila Kunis), who happens to be a scam artist intent on milking the company for all its worth. Now, Joel must attempt to piece his company and his marriage back together all while trying to figure out what he’s really after in life.

The most effective element of “Extract” is the way it approaches comedy. It’s subdued, relaxed, and not in-your-face. It shies away from raunchiness, it doesn’t overuse harsh language, and it’s not overly obscene or offensive. Instead, it sits back and calmly, coolly allows the viewer to take in the situations and observe the humor that lies in everyday events, dimwitted characters, and well-intentioned plans gone horribly awry.

Bateman plays his typical role of a man who is presented as marginally more rational, understanding, and intelligent than the agglomeration of simpletons that surrounds him. Although Kunis is also crafty, she essentially plays the same part she always does. But character actors J.K. Simmons and David Koechner really steal the show; and for once, Ben Affleck is actually funny. The supporting roles are mostly comic relief, but help to ground Joel’s story in a “Jerry Springer” styled world, where little people with little problems live out extraordinarily disastrous lives. There’s a natural humor in the events of average people, and “Extract” doesn’t force this on the audience. Instead, they’re allowed to appreciate the amusement that rises from commonplace distractions, simplistic misunderstandings, and things never working out the way they’re supposed to.

– The Massie Twins

  • 7/10