Extract: If Only We Could Just Suck Out the Good Parts

Heading out to see a screening of Extract, I was optimistic. I enjoy the hell out of Mike Judge creations (Beavis & Butthead still crack me up, and I could quote Office Space verbatim if necessary). Also, I love the cast -- Jason Bateman, Mila Kunis, Kristen Wiig, Ben Affleck, J.K. Simmons, David Koechner and Gene Simmons. Hell, I was even prepared to overlook the fact that Dustin Milligan from the new 90210 has yet to display any discernible amount of acting talent. But all those things combined could not make an entirely good movie. Don't get me wrong, there were some really, funny, funny moments and the premise is pretty entertaining too, but the movie dragged, and what wasn't amusing was really pretty terrible and even the stuff that was laugh worthy started to grate on my nerves after the same joke was recycled for the fifteenth time.

The gist of the movie is that Bateman is Joel, a small business owner who is basically just dissatisfied with the course of his life, despite the fact that he owns his own business and drives a BMW and lives in a McMansion with his cute wife Suzie (Wiig). He invented a particular kind of extract (you know, that stuff you use when you are cooking) and now owns a factory (along with J.K. Simmons' Brian) and really wants nothing more in life than to sell the company and do something else. He's got a heap of insubordinate workers from Mary (played by the dryly wonderful Beth Grant) who is constantly judging all her other workers, at the detriment to the company, to Rory (played by T.J. Miller) a rocker wannabe (he's in a band called God's Cock) who can't seem to drive a forklift, despite that being his job, to Step (Clifton Collins Jr.), an ambitious sort, who wants to be floor manager, but is just as much of a screw up as the rest of them. Or, as Brian likes to call them all, Dinkus. Just easier than learning their names. It is hard to blame Joel for wanting to throw his hands in the air and walk away counting some cash. They've got a chance to sell the factory to a big corporation, but a Rube Goldberg-esque chain reaction causes an injury and puts the deal in danger.

Joel's home life isn't much better. He's got the world's most annoying neighbor in Nathan (Koechner) who hops out of bushes and basically stalks Joel and pesters him incessantly. Joel's wife also has an unwritten (but very firm) eight PM sweatpant time, and once she's changed and tied the drawstring, there's no chance of Joel getting lucky. Which is why he's so interested when Cindy (Kunis) starts at the plant wearing her sexiest barely buttoned shirt. Joel turns to his friend Dean (a shaggy haired Affleck), who works at a hotel bar and casually doles out drugs, for advice. Dean thinks that Joel should hook up with Cindy, and it will all be OK if Suzie cheats first. Joel's down with this idea (since he's hopped up on booze and horse tranquilizers) and they hire Brad (Milligan) as a Gigolo/pool boy to seduce Suzie. Naturally Suzie takes the bait, leaving Joel free to hook up with Cindy, but she's not quite what she's cracked up to be. She's a grifter only interested in robbing people blind.

Again, there are some laugh out loud moments, most involving Affleck's Dean. He really landed all the best lines in this movie somehow, or perhaps he's so used to being so many slacker/stoner characters in Kevin Smith movies that he really just felt in his comfort zone here. He delivered. And so did Milligan, surprisingly, as the dimwitted prostitute, but his act gets old very quickly. Wiig, who I adore on Saturday Night Live, has remarkably little of interest to do until the very end of the film. And while Kunis's Cindy gets off to a fun start, stealing from guitar salesmen Nick Thune and Hal Sparks, the resolution is kind of a letdown. Gene Simmons' lawyer isn't remotely funny, he mostly exists to fit the word "balls" into the film about a thousand times. J.K. Simmons on the other hand, does the best with his limited role, as usual. Bateman plays the straight man, much like his Arrested Development character Michael Bluth, the craziness happens around him (and occasionally accidentally too him) and he just has to cope with it. But while AD was a well-paced thirty minute comedy, this film drags a lot. Even the opening credits, with a look at the factory (very Laverne & Shirley style) has dull music and really gets the movie off to a sluggish pace. The scenes with Koechner go on for far too long, which is the point, but still, they become painfully uncomfortable to watch. So much so that I dreaded his appearance on the screen as much as Joel did, and that's not really fun for anyone.

If paced better, and with a more even focus on the entire ensemble, instead of particular cast members, this film could have been decent. It might not go down in the annals of film history, but at least it wouldn't be completely forgettable... which is how it currently stands.




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