Review: Extract

“Extract” is not one of those tour-de-force comedies that knocks you on the floor with laughter, then again, that wasn’t exactly the case in Mike Judge’s previous cult hit “Office Space,” a film so in its own category that “Extract” will inevitably be — pardon the pun — judged by comparison. In the mold of that iconic working-class comedy now ten years its senior, “Extract” goes for that everyday life annoyance humor, putting a lot of stock in awkward situations.

The film, however, doesn’t capitalize nearly enough on the comic disaster it stirs up, making it not all that memorable. But what it does deliver comes with a good-natured everyman/everywoman charm, staying human enough to earn our admiration.

Jason Bateman stars as the mild-mannered Joel Reynolds, owner and operator of a flavor extract manufacturing plant whose daily struggles include dealing with feisty and mostly incompetent employees and trying to get laid by his wife (Kristen Wiig). When a freak accident spurred by his misfit workers takes out an employee’s testicle, an insurance settlement and potential lawsuit threaten to bankrupt Reynolds and his partner Brian (J.K. Simmons) as well as compound the problems in his personal life.

Added to the mix are a female con artist (Mila Kunis) looking for a share of the law suit money and Reynolds’ shaggy drug-endorsing friend (Ben Affleck) who convinces Joel to pay a gigolo to seduce his wife. It seems like that’s plenty in terms of comic potential and the rich quirky characters that made “Office Space” excellent, but its the plight of your well- intentioned average Joel that makes “Extract” work.

Not to take anything away from Affleck, Kunis or even David Koechner as the obnoxious neighbor, all of who give good performances, but it’s more about how Bateman works off these characters, whether he’s shunning Affleck’s offers of Xanax or struggling with the temptations of the flirty Kunis.

“Extract” is just one of those smile the whole way through and laugh just a couple handfuls of times comedies. It’s not a triumph, the characters are not nearly as rich as “Office Space,” and it skimps on its potential, but the cast is talented, the writing is natural and it still carries on the working-class spirit that made “Office Space” connect with so many people. The bottom line is that whether funny or not, Judge prefers to show off our good side, focusing mostly on the troubles we endure in life as we try to reconcile being good people with having personal needs and desires.

3.5/5 Stars

Directed by: Mike Judge
Written by: Mike Judge
Starring: Jason Bateman, Kristen Wiig, Mila Kunis, Ben Affleck


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