Extract is another working man comedy from writer/director Mike Judge that doesn’t deliver nearly as much funny or relatable material as his 1999 classic Office Space. His latest isn’t quite the poignant social commentary, but a flavorless film about stupid characters making dumb decisions.
Rather than focusing on cubicle comedy, Judge instead turns to the trappings of a boss in an extract flavoring factory. Joel (Jason Bateman) is a mild-mannered, middle-aged everyman managing the stress of a small business and the frustrations of a passionless marriage. As the founder and owner of the extract plant, Joel is on the verge of unloading the company to a multinational corporation and retiring to suburbia.
A fluke accident claims the testicle of Step (Clifton Collins Jr.) and his pending lawsuit threatens the deal. “You’re going to get a huge settlement out of this” is vintage Judge even if the line doesn’t go for a laugh this time.
The malleable Step is encouraged to sue by a sexy con artist named Cindy (Mila Kunis), who spends her limited screen time manipulating and flirting with the other characters. She’s a cute but underutilized temptress, merely serving as the destructive force that meddles with Joel’s mundane life.
The story chugs along smoothly like a trusty conveyor belt, but it just doesn’t deliver a steady stream of jokes. Ben Affleck steals a few scenes as a bartender/drug dealer/pimp, David Koechner plays an amusing yet annoying neighbor, and Kristen Wiig as Joel’s wife Suzie is mostly relegated to facial expression gags.
A plot divergence involves a moronic gigolo (Dustin Milligan) that falls for Suzie. It’s perhaps the funniest detour of a meandering story, but it peaks early and drags on too long.
Gene Simmons inexplicably has a cameo as Joe Adler, Step’s accident attorney. He wasn’t particularly good or funny, simply eliciting an “Oh, look. It’s Gene Simmons” response from a numb audience. I’m just surprised he didn’t try to fit a KISS plug into his lines.
Bateman does his best with a bland protagonist, but he’s rarely given punchlines outside of uncomfortable moments with these quirkier characters. Each supporting actor has their singular bit that is initially funny, but when stretched for time diminishes into a dull arrangement of individual resolutions with Joel.
Still a Mike Judge comedy is better than most of the romantic variety, so Extract is worth a rental at the very least.
3 out of 5.