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Overall Rating

Awesome: 2.56%
Worth A Look48.72%
Average: 35.9%
Pretty Bad: 7.69%
Total Crap: 5.13%

5 reviews, 9 user ratings

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by Erik Childress

"Have You Hugged Your Nuts Lately?"
4 stars

After the success of Beavis and Butthead, Mike Judge continued to flourish with television’s King of the Hill, one of those shows that would shock you as to how long it was on the air. Even longer than it took for people to discover his work in film. Sure the Beavis film was a solid success, but Office Space grossed only half in its entire run as that film in its first three days. Today, it’s become as recognizably quotable as any comedy of the last decade. Eight years later after sitting over a year on the shelf and being unceremoniously dumped by Fox with nary a press screening or even a trailer, Idiocracy was released and has also found an audience who appreciated its satirically too-close-to-home portrait of diminishing American intelligence. With any hope, Judge’s latest, the hilarious Extract, will find its audience right away – and then they can take years on determining if it’s the most insightful take on immasculinity since Kubrick’s Eyes Wide Shut.

Joel (Jason Bateman) is a reasonably content owner of a successful extract plant. Aside from the daily annoyances of line watcher, Mary (Beth Grant), complaining about her co-workers and a neighbor (David Koechner) he can’t get into his driveway without avoiding, Joel’s biggest problem is at home. In the bedroom. Just not happening. Oh, he’s fine. It’s just those damn sweatpants. Once his wife, Suzie (Kristin Wiig) puts them on at 8:00 sharp, he’s doomed to cold showers. His bartender friend, Dean (Ben Affleck), suggests drugs at every opportunity, but Joel isn’t much for the paranoia that comes with it. And he’d rather stay sharp for the potential buyout his company is on the verge of.

That financial windfall is challenged though when an accident at the plant causes its most dedicated employee, Step (Clifton Collins, Jr.), to lose a testicle. Step has no plans to do anything but settle for the insurance, but the plant’s new temp has other ideas. Cindy (Mila Kunis) may appear like nothing more than a tiny package of lust for guys to go ga-ga over, but we know better. She’s actually a small-time con artist hoping to get a piece of that settlement from Step after she encourages him to hire a sleazy ambulance chaser played by Gene Simmons. Joel, meanwhile, intrigued by Cindy’s apparent interest in his product (something his wife was once interested in too) is goaded into a scheme involving a local “gigolo” to make his potential affair a guilt-free one.

Like the variety of flavors created at the plant, Mike Judge squeezes every last ounce out of the barest of plotting. While its being advertised as another parody of the workplace like Office Space, Extract welcomely spends minimal time - aside from Mary’s complaining and a disorganized attempt at blue collar unity – rehashing the monotony of the daily grind. Instead, the film takes the opportunity to live up to its cracked nut poster promising to hit us where it hurts. Guys may be too stubborn to admit what fragile creatures we all are. But if we refocused our blood flow occasionally back to our brain we might see something achingly personal about our species through Judge’s comedy.

Beavis and Butthead were an amalgamation of our psyches being formed by the everyday images on TV. Office Space was about the trap of conformity in an entity that uses us as nothing but drones until we’re no longer needed. Idiocracy was about not stepping up and allowing the morons to outspawn us and take over the world. Extract is about losing your balls. Plain, but not always simple. As a guy in his youth, Joel was probably on top of the world by starting his own business with a loving wife. In his mid-30s he’s now facing the downswing of marriage and ready to sell out his company for retirement. Poor Step loses one of his on the verge of receiving more responsibility at the plant. Dean is pushing the pharmaceutical racket on his friend, the surest stride to becoming a neutered zombie of society. Or second surest if you meet Simmons’ lawyer who’s willing to trade nuts-for-cash straight up. On top of it all you have little Cindy, distracting the guys from their responsibilities, robbing them of their good sense and most prized possessions with barely the promise of a fantasy that will never come. On the other hand, maybe Judge’s films are all just darn funny movies.

Judge is too good a satirist to dismiss the subtle intricacies between the laughs. He’s also too good to continually flake out on his final acts. Not since the early work of Albert Brooks has such a comic talent so disappointed in their finales. With Brooks it was more his final moments. Judge’s issues hover somewhere just after the hour mark. With the exception of Beavis and Butt-Head Do America, his most consistent laugh-per-minute film to date, Judge almost appears too wrapped up in solving all the plot strands he’s converging instead of maintaining the laugh quotient. Office Space’s third act is a bit of a disaster. Idiocracy’s action-filled climax is a little less noticable since we’re well into its 80-minute running time. Extract is even better but still is a bit unsatisfactory, particular with the Kunis character who is equally the most interesting and most underwritten in the piece. Judge keeps flirting with the screwball potential of a femme fatale inflicting a comically noirish situation upon a suburban married couple, but it just never takes flight into the dark territory it seems destined for.

What does though are the film’s performances and a selection of perfectly timed comic conversations that are individually better than anything seen in this year’s big comedy hits, The Hangover or Paul Blart: Mall Cop. Bateman is the perfect straight man for this material, doing some of his best delivery in awe of how dumb the gigolo he’s hired is. Special props go out to Dustin Milligan as that clueless gigolo and the always welcome J.K. Simmons as Bateman’s plant foreman. Giving Bateman a run for the best laughs is Affleck in sort of a variation on Diedrich Bader’s neighbor from Office Space, but nevertheless earns a Top Five spot on Ben’s resume and, arguably, his best performance since Chasing Amy. Extract, while handled by a different studio in Miramax, still has the unenviable irony of being released on the same weekend as Idiocracy back in 2006. There’s a Labor Day tie-in for sure, but as our country devolves more expediantly towards the mindset of the year 2500 depicted in his last film, let’s hope that movie audiences have wised up and realize that a Mike Judge film deserves to be seen as soon as possible.

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originally posted: 09/04/09 14:00:00
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User Comments

12/05/12 Delbert Loved Office Space and Idiocracy. This was far less than that. 2 stars
9/22/12 roscoe Are you kidding me? This movie sucks ass. I only laughed once. 1 stars
5/08/11 mini me i love this flick. i dont know why but i do 5 stars
1/26/11 mr.mike Much of it is funny (esp. Affleck), but it is still pretty much a TV sitcom. 3 stars
2/24/10 Peter North dry humor is still funny. I'd like to drop some extract inside Mila's Kunis... 4 stars
1/30/10 Dane Youssef Mike Judge strikes out this time. "Extract" is missing some nessicary key ingredients. 2 stars
1/26/10 gc Laughed during Gene Simmons scene, otherwise, pretty lame 2 stars
9/16/09 pEFvGwbddrcvLwXvSw doors.txt;10;15 3 stars
9/11/09 Man Out 6 Bucks Quarter the laughs of a single half-hour "Two and Half Men". Old people getting older. 1 stars
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  04-Sep-2009 (R)
  DVD: 22-Dec-2009


  DVD: 22-Dec-2009

Directed by
  Mike Judge

Written by
  Mike Judge

  Jason Bateman
  Mila Kunis
  Ben Affleck
  Kristen Wiig
  Dustin Milligan
  Clifton Collins Jr.

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