Starring Jason Bateman, Kristen Wiig, and Mila Kunis. Rated PG. Opens Friday, September 4, at the Cinemark Tinseltown
Mike Judge, the creator of King of the Hill and Beavis and Butt-Head, has generally been most comfortable on TV, with his underperforming movies, Office Space and Idiocracy, only developing followings after the fact. In his new effort, Extract, there is little to baffle marketing people and a lot of good observational humour. But the absence of weirdness is also the amiable film’s downfall, especially in the Age of Apatow. Like protagonist Joel, an overly hesitant factory owner played by Jason Bateman, this comedy is just too nice for its own good.
Watch the trailer for Extract.
The premise here is overly mild, with Bateman’s buttoned-down character having invented artificial food flavours popular enough to have taken him to the suburbs with his neglectful wife (Kristen Wiig) while running a plant filled with blue-collar boobs. When one local yokel (Clifton Collins Jr.) is the victim of a freak accident at work, it threatens Joel’s plans to sell the company. A possible resulting lawsuit also attracts the attention of a cunning hustler (Mila Kunis) and then a crude shyster (Gene Simmons, surprisingly effective).
Distracted by Kunis’s irresistible hottie, our meek employer and his goofy bartender pal (a bearded and amusing Ben Affleck) scheme to encourage Joel’s wife to cheat on him, thereby—well, you can smell the mess from here, right? No hard-ass even when defending his family honour, Joel is even weaker when facing his long-winded neighbour (David Koechner); their street hosts a daily battle of the passive-aggressives. This subplot goes nowhere and steals valuable time from the female characters, who never really spring to life. In the end, Extract is rather inert, and you have to wonder if movies really are Mike’s thing after all. It might take a book if Judge is looking to recover.