Screen Rant reviews Extract
Extract comes to us from Mike Judge, the same guy who brought us Beavis and Butthead, King of the Hill, Idiocracy and Office Space. B&B notwithstanding, Judge’s writing generally delivers low-key (subtle might be the wrong word) humor – the kind that may not cause you to fall out of your chair with laughter, but tickles the back of your brain and sits with you for a spell. Sometimes it takes a while to sink in how really funny it was.
Maybe I forgot that going in – and on the heels of such “laff-riot” comedy as delivered in The Hangover I was hoping for more belly laughs here. While Extract was funny, it left me feeling like I’d been teased by some hot babe. While enjoyable as I sat through it – I yearned for more of a satisfactory, um, conclusion.
Right up front we meet “hot in a working class way” babe Cindy (Mila Kunis) and within about two minutes we see just what sort of person she is in a rather funny opening scene where a couple of guitar shop clerks fawn over her. From there we cut over to our “hero” Joel’s (Jason Bateman) factory and are introduced to a variety of characters who work for him. His company produces extract, as in Almond Extract, the stuff your mom has in her pantry to bake cookies and cakes. He’s come up with some unique way to preserve the flavor better than the competition and they manufacture a variety of flavors. Boring? Yes, but apparently not to Cindy (much to Joel’s surprise) once she arrives at the factory.
We have some stereotypical characters on the factory floor – dude who plays in a rock band and drives a forklift (poorly), newly hired (and wide-eyed) young Hispanic guy just happy to have a job and Step (Clifton Collins Jr.) as a redneck blue-collar guy with aspirations of being the floor manager. But the one who stood out for me was Beth Grant as Mary, the curmudgeon old lady who’s worked there for 14 years – complaining every… single… day. While she played the role well, she annoyed me beyond the point of humor to where I hoped she would come to some messy end in the film.
Basically the story is about Joel feeling like his life is pretty mundane despite his financial success and his frustration with his “brother-sister type” marriage which suffers from a severe lack of sex. There’s quite a funny running joke about him having to get home before his wife (played by Kristen Wiig) puts on her sweat pants for the evening. Anyway, Cindy comes into the scene and besides being very attractive she knows how to “work it” and let out enough rope to get guys thinking she’s interested.
While we also have the always enjoyable J.K. Simmons as a manager who calls everyone “dinkus” and a guest appearance by Gene Simmons as a sleazy ambulance chaser lawyer, the real stand out supporting actor was Ben Affleck as Dean – Joel’s laid back, semi-cosmic-thinking bartender best friend. Affleck was given pretty much all the best lines in the movie, including one exchange where Joel says “hot girls need jobs, too” and after a perfectly timed pause Dean replies “Do they… really?”
Back to the annoying character side of things we have Joel’s stalker-like neighbor (played with perfect annoying syrupiness by David Koechner) who seems to lay in wait for Joel to come home and is oblivious to any sense of urgency or business on Joel’s part. If nothing else the guy highlights how overly polite and whipped Joel is when he can’t even firmly tell the guy to beat it as the conversation drags on interminably. Bateman is a master of the understated character and he’s completely convincing here in the role of frustrated guy who’s too polite and weak to change his life.
There are lots of funny bits sprinkled throughout the film (among others, scenes with the young, blonde pool cleaner dude are pretty funny) – but it never gets to the point where you’re laughing out loud for more than a quick “Ha!” (if that makes any sense). However as I pointed out above, I have a feeling that this is one of those movies that you’ll appreciate more with repeated viewings (I’ll probably end up wishing I gave it an extra half star) – there are a LOT of gems in the script, all delivered in a low key way that almost underplays them too much. If you go, stay at least a couple of minutes after the credits start as a plot point is resolved (rather weakly) there.
So overall I enjoyed it as it went along but in the end I was hoping for a bit more satisfaction – especially at the end of the film, which just kind of tapers off… While I’d say it’s worth seeing, I was really wanting more from Mike Judge and Extract.
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