Loneliness on the Western sprawl in Extract | Film Review | Indy Week
Pin It

Loneliness on the Western sprawl in Extract 

Take this longing

click to enlarge Jason Bateman and Mila Kunis in "Extract" - PHOTO BY SAM URDANK/ MIRAMAX FILMS

Extract opens Friday throughout the Triangle

Mike Judge will never be confused with Woody Allen. However, each shares an affinity for satirical comedy drawn from the nuances of their respective habitats. Allen, of course, is synonymous with New York, a city that reliably loves him back as he churns out a film a year.

While Allen resides on the Upper East Side, Judge lives in the lower, lower west side: Texas, in the workaday malaise of the American heartland. In contrast to the prolific Woodster, Judge's sparse résumé is a product of his renowned, sometimes inhibiting, perfectionism. The creator of

Beavis & Butthead and King of the Hill has directed only three live-action feature films; one of those, the star-crossed Idiocracy, is seen by some as Judge's attempt to revisit Allen's Sleeper. In Extract, Judge's talent for toeing the line of caricature without stooping to condescension is again on display. The film's sardonic look at the workplace milieu immediately recalls Judge's other live actioner, the cult fave Office Space. Jason Bateman plays Joel Reynold, the owner of a flavored-extract factory beset by professional and personal woes. Joel yearns to sell his company and cash out for an early retirement, but a proposed deal with General Mills is threatened when an employee (Clifton Collins Jr.) sues after losing a gonad during a workplace accident.

At home, Joel is trapped in a sexless marriage, always arriving home just beyond the 8:00 deadline, after which his frosty wife, Suzie (Kristen Wiig), cinches up her sweatpants for the evening and settles in to watch Dancing with the Stars. Joel whiles away his nights at the local watering hole, where Dean (Ben Affleck) serves up drinks, half-baked if well-meaning advice and assorted pharmacological remedies.

Within the aimlessness depicted in this film, there is a grifter named Cindy (Mila Kunis) who's looking to cash in on whichever poor sap she can seduce. There's also a lunkheaded gigolo named Brad (Dustin Milligan) who takes his charge of seducing Suzie way too enthusiastically.

Bateman proves a worthy foil for scene-stealers Affleck, David Koechner and Gene Simmons (yep, that Gene Simmons) as a slimy, ambulance-chasing lawyer. However, the talents of Kunis and Wiig are underused, while Collins, J.K. Simmons and the rest of the supporting cast fill flat, one-note characters.

Throughout Extract, allusions to America's eroding manufacturing base, attitudes toward Hispanic laborers and the tenuous institution of marriage waft from Judge's script. Such pointed commentary is somewhat superfluous: There's enough social commentary in our recognition of the cliques that drive the assembly-line setting, or the annoying, nosy neighbor (David Koechner) who always seems to flag Joel down as he arrives home from work and never stops talking as he pesters Joel to accompany him and his wife to a local Rotary dinner with $55 tickets he'll have to buy.

Most intriguingly, while Joel is a white-collar guy who drives a Beemer and lives in a gated community, he's represented as ultimately more dysfunctional than the redneck who swills Pepsi out of a 2-liter bottle while watching The American Outdoorsman on his rear-projection TV. With this film, Mike Judge comes off as a working man's Woody Allen ... or a kinder, gentler Judd Apatow. Too bad he doesn't make nearly as many movies.

  • With this film, Mike Judge comes off as a working man's Woody Allen ... or a kinder, gentler Judd Apatow.

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

INDY Week publishes all kinds of comments, but we don't publish everything.

  • Comments that are not contributing to the conversation will be removed.
  • Comments that include ad hominem attacks will also be removed.
  • Please do not copy and paste the full text of a press release.

Permitted HTML:
  • To create paragraphs in your comment, type <p> at the start of a paragraph and </p> at the end of each paragraph.
  • To create bold text, type <b>bolded text</b> (please note the closing tag, </b>).
  • To create italicized text, type <i>italicized text</i> (please note the closing tag, </i>).
  • Proper web addresses will automatically become links.

Latest in Film Review



Twitter Activity

Most Recent Comments

I am indeed very happy for my life; My name is Vargas Cynthia I never thought that I will live …

by Vargas Cynthia on Axis of Cinema (Film Review)

The lobster is arbitrarily asinine, disjointed, and gratuitously violent towards both humans and former humans that "didn't make it." If …

by Marco_Polo on The Lobster Surreally Skewers Society’s Fear of Single People (Film Review)

The only peeople who murdered those boys were let off by an inexperienced prosecutor and hoodwinked judge. The facts are …

by Greg 1 on The West Memphis Three are free ... what about the real killer? (Film Review)

"Miles Ahead"... "opening Friday".... where? I'm having a tough time finding film times/locations on www.indyweek.com now. The …

by Tbone on Don Cheadle’s Miles Davis Film, Miles Ahead, Isn’t a Real Biopic—It’s Something Better (Film Review)

Comments

I am indeed very happy for my life; My name is Vargas Cynthia I never thought that I will live …

by Vargas Cynthia on Axis of Cinema (Film Review)

The lobster is arbitrarily asinine, disjointed, and gratuitously violent towards both humans and former humans that "didn't make it." If …

by Marco_Polo on The Lobster Surreally Skewers Society’s Fear of Single People (Film Review)

Most Read

© 2016 Indy Week • 201 W. Main St., Suite 101, Durham, NC 27701 • phone 919-286-1972 • fax 919-286-4274
RSS Feeds | Powered by Foundation