"Extract" is Mike Judge's amusingly tasty new comedy
“Extract” is the amusing, clever new comedy from Mike Judge, creator of “Beavis and Butthead,” “King of the Hill” and the cult classic, “Office Space.” Well-written, well-cast with some witty, hilarious moments, “Extract” is his most accessible, mainstream live-action work in years.
Joel (Jason Bateman), the owner of an Extract plant, must contend with a myriad of personal and professional problems, including his potentially unfaithful wife (Kristen Wiig) and employees like Step (Clifton Collins, Jr.) who has an accident and is threatening to bankrupt the company with a lawsuit, not to mention a young, pretty criminal (Mila Kunis) trying to take advantage of Step and the plant, in addition to Joel’s druggie friend Dean (Ben Affleck), his super annoying, talky neighbor (David Koechner) and a slimy lawyer (Gene Simmons), who’s in charge of Step’s lawsuit.
“Extract” is an enjoyable, spot-on but uneven comedy that finds its humor through other’s misfortunes and misunderstandings. Though director and writer Mike Judge’s humor often translates better to his animated work, his unconventional live-action pieces have been a different story: largely discovered through video and DVD, where “Office Space” gained a huge cult following and his 2006 flop “Idiocracy” has been gaining momentum. Unlike these previous live-action efforts, with more appealing actors and storyline, “Extract” should attract more audiences when it hits theatres.
It also helps that “Extract” is well-cast and well-performed by some familiar comic names, including “Arrested Development’s” Jason Bateman, who is the perfect foil and straight man, with some comic reactions that are worthy to be seen. He has one of the film’s funniest scenes, when he smokes from a bong for the first time with Affleck.
Another memorable scene comes from “Saturday Night Live’s” Wiig late in the film when she finally speaks the truth to their annoyingly chirpy neighbor (the always hilarious Koechner), with completely unexpected results. The humor that Judge discovers in these unexpected comical situations, meltdowns and sometimes dumb characters will elicit more out loud laughs than his lousy high-concept comedy “Idiocracy” but on par with the hilarity of “Office Space.”
Judge also fills “Extract” with memorable, witty supporting players, mostly familiar faces. Dustin Milligan (“90210”) has some good moments as a moronic young hustler hired to romance his wife; Affleck has fun in a small role as a drugged out friend who gets Joel in trouble; J.K. Simmons (like Koechner, seen in just about every other comedy film these days, not to mention in TV’s “The Closer”) as an associate plant manager who calls employees “Dinkus” when he can’t remember their name, and the most familiar face, Kiss singer and now reality star Gene Simmons as a shady lawyer who threatens to shut down the plant.
The pacing in “Extract” is choppy and uneven at times, and some scenes fall flat, but there’s far more than works than doesn’t, providing more flavor than most comedies these days. Hank Hill would often say “That boy ain’t right…,” but this time director and writer Judge gets it right and delivers an enjoyable, worthwhile comedy that's worth seeing.