Extract Blu-ray Edition
Directed by Mike Judge
Starring Jason Batemen, Mila Kunis, Ben Affleck, Kristen Wiig, Clifton Collins Jr., J.K. Simmons, David Koechner
Buena Vista Home Entertainment
Release Date: December 22, 2009
Mike Judge hasn’t had the best of luck when it comes to his films. Whether it’s his now cult classic Office Space, Idiocracy, or his latest film, Extract, it always seems like he has problems getting the backing that he needs or the proper attention from movie goers that he deserves. Another trend that’s typical in Judge’s movies, is that they’re all fantastic, so I was excited to finally get to see Extract for myself.
Extract tells the story of Joel (Jason Bateman), the owner and manager of Reynold’s Extract, a company that makes those little bottles of flavor extracts such as vanilla, peppermint, and perhaps even cookies and cream. Joel is desperately seeking a large company to come along and buy him out so he can retire and hopefully revive the deceased intimacy between him and his wife (if he’s not home by 8PM on the button, she will have her sweatpants on, and he never gets to have sex) Suzie (Kristen Wiig). When Joel discovers that General Mills is suddenly very interested in buying the company, excitement runs high, but a streak of bad luck brings everything to a dead halt, much like his production line often is. Reynold’s hires a lot of simpletons and job placement recruits, and when these newcomers become distracted, the bitter long-time employees refuse to do anything about it, which in turn causes the line to back up. One day this occurs and sets off a chain of bad events that culminates in the unfortunate testicular dismemberment of an employee named Step (Clifton Collins Jr.). Not only does this incident cause severe complications in the sale of the company, it’s also not long before a drop-dead gorgeous new temp employee named Cindy (Mila Kunis) shows up with devious plans to seduce Joel and Step at the same time with hopes of walking away with a massive piece of the expected multi-million dollar settlement payout. This leaves Joel stressed and confused and unsure what to do with only his unmotivated default best friend Dean (Ben Affleck) offering illegal substance options and his always-nagging neighbor Nathan (David Koechner) there to make things that much worse for him.
Continue reading for more and to watch an Extract trailer if you have not already seen it!
I was an obsessive fan of Beavis and Butt-Head as a teenager (even to the point of answering classroom questions in their voices; sad, huh?), and loved Judge’s previous films very much. One thing I’ve noticed is that the director’s styles are pretty subtle; all of his works are very much distinguishable on their own legs, but if you look at them as related to one another, there’s not a whole lot connecting the titles. This was exactly the same with Extract, which I feel could perhaps be Judge’s best-made film to date. It’s not as laugh-out-loud funny as Office Space; it’s not as silly as Idiocracy or as immature as Beavis and Butt-Head; it’s just a simple, funny, well-made little film with minimal hints of drama and all the precise touches of reality that Judge is so very talented at presenting with authenticity.
Although Mike Judge does such a good job keeping a unique feeling to each of his works, you might just find yourself feeling like you’re watching a sequel to Office Space that takes place in a warehouse setting. The two movies are nothing alike, but they do such a good job in bringing out the natural humor in situations that take place in work places all around the country every single day, that it’s hard not to compare them. One of the more amusing bits of the movie was finding out after watching it that they filmed in an actual water bottling factory and that during certain scenes, you can see employees of the company doing their real jobs in the background. That’s how you utilize a limited budget, kids!
Extract doesn’t try and do too much or get too far ahead of itself. It has its simple story and it tells it in a fitting format, but still has more than enough layers to maintain a solid level of entertainment from start to finish. All of the performances are really wonderful; Batmen does a particularly fantastic job of portraying a feeling of organized chaos. He knows his life is a disaster area and he has no idea how to handle things, but when in the sight of others, he keeps his composure and acts like he has control. Another notably great performance comes from Affleck, who isn’t stupid, but clearly has no intentions of doing more than he has to do. As someone who has always enjoyed the work of Affleck, it’s nice seeing him do something here that even the haters can enjoy and appreciate. Perhaps one of my favorite performances of the film was actually a cameo by the director himself, Mike Judge. It’s naturally not the movie-stealing performance of the decade, but Judge as the random, aged, overweight, and insightful employee amused me to no end. I’m not a King of the Hill fan, but those of you that are will pick plenty of Hank Hill in his words and will likely enjoy this cameo even more than I did.
Once again, as with his other movies, Extract is a different kind of comedy animal. It doesn’t try and cause you to fall over laughing, but instead tries to win you over with the subtle humors of everyday life. This has worked before and it works very well here. If you go in wanting, or even worse expecting Office Space out of this film, then that will be your fatal error and you will be let down. And if you did do that, then I sprinkle shame on you for assuming ahead of time! Go into this flick with a clear mind, and give it its fair chance without bringing a director’s previous works into the picture first; you won’t regret it.
Usually with movies like this that have lots of things going very wrong, a lot of awkward tension can be created, but that’s not the case (aside for maybe the women at the factory who are always complaining; they can be a tad unnerving, as they should be). The film is relaxed all the way through and it is without doubt worth a couple hours of your time, even if you discover that it’s not exactly your cup of tea. The character’s aren’t built completely up, but they’re presented in a way that you know who you like and who you don’t like. I could get into this method because it didn’t lead me to route for any sides, it just had me laying back and taking in the story the characters were telling.
While I’m not 100% sure, I did wonder while watching this film if Idiocracy had any influence on it from a message standpoint. That movie was insanely silly and some would even call “stupid funny,” but it also offered a fictional and inflated yet still incredibly scary vision of the not-so-unrealistic-future that we could face if people don’t wake up soon. The trouble with Idiocracy is that is was painfully mistreated and no one really ever even knew it came out, let alone saw and appreciated it. So did Judge maybe take things down many levels tonally so to avoid any content and overall message complications? I wouldn’t be shocked. But still, I like the way that it worked out for Extract, and I feel that we now have a completely unique trio of Mike Judge films to enjoy depending on our daily mood.
A rather depressing thing about the Extract DVD release is that there’s barely special features at all. There is one entertaining bonus featurette that you can watch right from the main menu, which goes behind the scenes of filming the movie in an actual working factory. This would have been even better had it been longer, and it you will be left craving the sure-fire entertainment of the antics of a Mike Judge film.
If you have the Blu-ray edition, you won’t get much more unfortunately. You’ll get the one aforementioned feature from the DVD, as well as a deleted scene and 5 extended scenes, which are definitely a treat, but again, you’ll be left wanting more.