Extract (2009)

extract IMDb

I found this film very disappointing. I am a big fan of Jason Bateman and Mila Kunis, I love both of their work on television. Bateman is perfect as Michael Bluth on the brilliant show Arrested Development, and Mila Kunis has been shown to have great comedic timing in her sitcom That 70s Show, and films like Forgetting Sarah Marshall. This film is funny, but I expect more from a cast like this. Kristen Wiig is underused as Bateman’s cheating wife, the only cast member I feel excelled is Ben Affleck. He is very funny as Bateman’s old friend.

The film follows the ups and downs of a factory that makes a brand of extract. Jason Bateman stars as Joel, the owner of this company, who has built it from the ground up. When one of his workers (Clifton Collins Jr) is injured on the job, Joel must deal with the possible lawsuit. He also has personal life problems with his wife (Wiig) and their non-existent sex life. These problems are multiplied when a hot young thing (Kunis) begins working at the factory. Joel considers having an affair with her but will only do so if he can set his wife up into also having an affair with their pool cleaner. Joel will only act on his feelings for Kunis if he can catch his potentially unfaithful wife in the act.

This film is pretty average. I expected a lot more from this cast as they are fantastic whenever I’ve seen them on the small screen. Extract is not that funny, the only time I laughed a lot was during the scenes set in the factory where employees were bickering or when Affleck was on screen. He is great as Joel’s bartender/lawyer best friend. This film seemed like it was meant to be a couple of episodes of a television show. There were two stories going on throughout the film and neither of them really have much to do with eachother. It feels like you could tell those stories separately in episodic form, rather than in a feature film. This film was disappointing, I expected a lot, but Extract does not deliver.

Rating: D+

This is definitely a Mike Judge creation. The over-the-top characters are reminiscent of King of the Hill, and the workplace setting taken straight from Office Space. The only thing that seems to be missing is the razor sharp comedy I’ve come to expect from Judge. Still, this is an enjoyable comedy, thanks in large part to a great cast.

Extract is the story of Joel Reynolds (Jason Bateman), the owner and manager of his own food flavoring-extracts company. Joel’s life is turned upside down when an employee loses a testicle on the factory floor, and a con artist (Mila Kunis) passes through town and decides to exploit the situation. Bateman and Kunis are the best parts of this movie, and are ably supported by the rest of the cast. Kristin Wiig, Ben Affleck, and J.K. Simmons all give great performances that perfectly walk the line between reality and caricature. This sort of character is a hallmark of Judge’s writing style. He’s a pro at creating the type of character that seems both real and fake at the same time.

I also enjoyed the subject matter of the film, particularly its depiction of the workplace. As with Office Space, Judge nails the interactions between coworkers, and introduces the tightrope management must walk to keep peace between them. Where Office Space is told from the point of view of the employees, Extract is told from management’s perspective. This change is interesting, as here management is painted with a softer brush. Joel Reynolds is just trying to keep the factory running smoothly, negotiate peace between his employees, and fix his sexless marriage. He’s much more empathetic, and the story makes a point of having no real villain. Everyone has their own issues– many of their own making– they are trying to work through.

As I previously mentioned, the comedy in Extract isn’t up to par. There are many humorous scenes and lines, but they don’t quite translate into a great film. For me it feels as if the writing isn’t good enough, which is a shame because this is a great cast and promising plot.

Rating: C

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