Joel, 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 during a drug-induced brainstorming session on how to test his wife's faithfulness. Finally, compounding these catastrophes is new employee Cindy, 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. Written by
The Massie Twins
When Nathan, the neighbor, comes round to ask for money for the tickets, he says, "Mmmyeah, I'm going to need you to go ahead and write a check for those tickets. That'd be grrreattt." This is a reference to the character of Lumbergh in Mike Judge's previous film Office Space (1999), who used this phrase often. See more »
In close up shots of Joel's car, the windows aren't tinted, but for a far away shot, they have dark black tint. See more »
A comedy that really doesn't know what kind it wants to be.
Awkward situational humor has really been the staple of all of Mike Judge's films and TV ventures (besides the immortal Beavis and Butthead), and his latest effort, "Extract", is really no different. The viewer, I'm guessing, is supposed to laugh at these situations and just take it from there, allowing the actors to feel around. This takes the emphasis off the actors and more on the story, and therein lies the problem. "Extract" is a comedy built for one thing and written for another, and in the end, it becomes a mildly, yet forgettable movie.
"Extract" is so obviously written to be the next "Office Space", which will forever remain Judge's crown jewel as far as films go. The situations are awkwardly funny, yet there really doesn't seem to be a balance to most of it. Judge's newest is rather repetitive in its approach - Joel goes to work, is unhappy. Joel comes home, is interrupted by his annoying neighbor. Joel goes to the bar. Ben Affleck says something witty. Mila Kunis looks hot. The film continues down this path aimlessly, not really offering to build up any suspense as to what could happen with our characters, until a really useless event in the plot causes the movie to end. It experiments with a bit of character development in the lead role of Joel, but everyone else is either a cliché, someone who is not worth developing, or a plot device.
You'll notice that I said the film is written to be an awkward situational comedy, and it clearly is - however, the comedians cast in parts are not really meant for these kind of roles. For some (Jason Bateman, Dustin Milligan), it works and they fit their characters well. For others (Mila Kunis, Clifton Collins Jr.), both actor and character seem out of place, like they belong in a more slapstick or more vulgar and/or stereotypical comedy. The real plus comes from Ben Affleck, who is hilarious just about every time he graces us with his presence, while Kristen Wiig is VASTLY underused. Clifton Collins Jr. is great as well, while Mila Kunis is almost as out of place as she was in "Max Payne". If anything, this film has the most random cameo of all time from Gene Simmons.
Maybe Judge has lost his touch, though I doubt that, because he has a great cameo in the film as well...but his writing is done in a way that it feels like he's building up to one huge punchline that never comes. Don't get me wrong, most people will have a few chuckles and smiles at "Extract", but with Judge's name on it, you'd expect it to be a bit better than the occasional laugh and grin. It doesn't know whether to be absurd, as some characters and jokes are, or the awkward comedy that Judge is so great at doing.
To put it simple, "Extract" lacks the strength of plot, relatability, and character development that Judge's previous works have had. Joel is no Peter from "Office Space". Ben Affleck's character, an obvious rehash of Deidrich Bader's character from the same movie, is the one saving grace, and even he isn't good enough to stop this from becoming nothing more than a mediocre comedy that's best saved for a DVD rental.
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