Reviewed by: Ethan Samuel Rodgers
|Featuring:||Jason Bateman, Mila Kunis, Ben Affleck, Kristen Wiig, J.K. Simmons, Clifton Collins Jr., Dustin Milligan, David Koechner, Beth Grant, T.J. Miller, Javier Gutiérrez, Lidia Porto, Gene Simmons, Matt Schulze, Lamberto Gutierrez, Brent Briscoe, Hal Sparks, Nick Thune, Tom Virtue, Christopher Ryan Rocha, Jenny O'Hara, Matthew Williams|
|Producer:||3 Arts Entertainment, F+A Productions, Ternion Pictures, John Altschuler, Michael Flynn, Dave Krinsky, Tom Lassally, Glenn Lucas, Michael Rotenberg, Bergen Swanson|
“100% pure Mike Judge. A comedy with a flavor of its owns.”
Between his films (“Office Space”) and his television shows (“King of the Hill”), Mike Judge has got an impressive resume. His latest installment in the film genre, “Extract,” however, falls short of his previous work, never hitting any emotional or comical nerves, and will surely leave you more frustrated than a man with one foot picking out a pair of shoes.
Joel (Jason Bateman) is a business man, and he works with extracts: vanilla, almond, root beer, etc. An entrepreneur and extract enthusiast, he built his own company, “Reynold’s Extract,” from the ground up and has built what seems to be the American dream around him. But there are some problems with this perfect dream that quickly add up to a pile of depressing obstacles.
Ultimately, it boils down to this: his wife, Suzie (Kristen Wiig), no longer has an intimate relationship with him, he wants to sell the factory so he can retire but there’s after a factory accident he’s being sued to where he could be bankrupted, the new girl he hires and is attracted to is a con-artist, the workers are threatening to go on strike, and his best friend, Dean (Ben Affleck), tries to help Joel only by convincing him drugs are the answer to mellowing him out. One decision leads to another, and things get worse and worse.
“Extract” really is a disjointed comedy at its core. Attempting to follow multiple story lines throughout the course of the film and weave them together to create a satisfying ending in a Cohen Brothers style fashion seemed to be the initial plan, but it fails for lack of character development and cohesiveness in plot and leans more toward the sophomoric style of story telling: i.e., “this happened, then this happened, then this happened, and then this happened.”
The film’s real purpose is to be a social commentary on rural/working class America. It shows the failing marriage, a dissatisfied man who has plenty of money with neighbors he hates in a neighborhood he hates, the angry workers, the hopelessness of life, and of course the young beautiful girl who seems to be the only answer to life’s problems. The conclusion to this film lacks any real hope or happiness, however, for a number of reasons, most notably the fact that although Joel solves the problems in his marriage with Suzie, she cheats on him 15 times with the pool boy trying to figure out what she wants in her life.
Surprisingly this film earns an “R” rating. Three F bombs and a few S***’s but other than that the language wasn’t too bad (considering the premise and the film genre). The sexual side of the film was purely innuendo, as there were no sexual scenes or nudity, and although sex was a focal point in the film, it was discussed only and never shown. The drug and alcohol use may be the true reason for the R rating, unfortunately. Constant drinking, pill taking and bong smoking is littered throughout the script, but, for the most part, is largely unnecessary for the progression of the story.
Realistically, “Extract” is really just another not-so-standout comedy in a sea of new material emerging right now. It’s not notoriously inappropriate, but it’s also not split-sides funny, either. I suppose the one word review would just be “Eh.” The story creeps along to a boring conclusion, making few stops along the way that make you think about the social structure in America, or that make you chuckle or smile amidst the despair of a decent man’s life in which nothing goes right. Disorganized, disinteresting, humorous, yet ultimately dissatisfying, “Extract” is a social message in a bottle the American public will never receive.
Violence: Minor / Profanity: Heavy / Sex/Nudity: Heavy
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