Extract Review
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Labor Day weekend seems like the perfect time to release a Mike Judge movie. After all, Judge is a champion of the average worker bee: the hard-working propane salesman, the disgruntled waitress, and the low-level cubicle jockey. Now, with his latest, Judge adds a new working man to his roster: the frustrated factory owner.

After dedicating years of his life to making Reynold’s Extract the successful liquid flavoring company that it is today, Joel (Jason Bateman) is ready to get out. The employees are constantly bickering—and they’re not exactly the tastiest flavors, if you know what I mean. What’s worse, the hours are so long that, by the time Joel gets home from work, his wife, Suzie (Kristen Wiig), has already donned her sweatpants—and he hasn’t gotten laid in months.

  
 
When General Mills puts in an offer to buy the company, Joel thinks he’s finally found his out—until a freak accident on the floor puts everything in jeopardy.

Meanwhile, Joel’s become obsessed with his sexual frustration—especially now that the hot new temp, Cindy (Mila Kunis), appears to be hitting on him. So his bartender friend, Dean (Ben Affleck), suggests a solution to all of his problems—one that involves lots of drugs and a gigolo named Brad (Dustin Milligan).

Writer/director Judge has proven himself to be a master of subtly smart brainless comedy. From TV’s Beavis and Butt-Head and King of the Hill to movies like Office Space and the little-known Idiocrasy, Judge has a way of making easy-going, low-brow comedies that are also brilliantly, bitingly observant.

But Extract doesn’t really have the same sly social commentary that Judge’s others have had. Gone are the quick-witted observations of crappy, cubicle-bound office jobs or the gradual dumbing-down of society. Perhaps it says something smart about stoners or mid-life crises or jobs in small factories—but the observations and depictions aren’t quite as fresh and clever (or as universal) as they have been in Judge’s earlier movies. Instead, Extract feels like just another crazy comedy.

That’s not to say, though, that Extract isn’t funny—because it is. It’s often awkwardly hilarious, populated by quirky supporting characters and crammed with odd little comedic surprises that come flying out of nowhere. In fact, it’s the most ridiculously riotous comedy I’ve seen since The Hangover back in June, thanks to indie comedy regulars like Bateman and the always-funny J. K. Simmons.

Still, Extract feels more like a series of outrageous events than a cohesive comedy. The story is secondary, and it seems to ramble on from one thing to the next. It’s Laverne & Shirley meets Cheech and Chong, with a whole bunch of other wackiness thrown in for more laughs. Again, it works—and the laughs are pretty consistent. But while it’s still good for 90 minutes of low-brow laughs, Extract lacks the same flavorful flair of Judge’s cleverly quotable cult classic, Office Space.


Blu-ray Review:
Like many of the employees at the Reynold’s Extract factory, the Blu-ray release of Mike Judge’s Extract does little more than the bare minimum. There aren’t a whole lot of extras here—just one short deleted scene, five extended scenes (featuring a whole lot more Ben Affleck), and a short (11-minute) making-of featurette.

If you’re a special features fanatic, you’ll obviously be disappointed by the extras (or the lack thereof) on this release. After all, there isn’t even a gag reel—or a director commentary (which, I can only assume, would have been highly entertaining). Still, the making-of (entitled Mike Judge’s Secret Recipe) does offer a few insights into the movie, along with some behind-the-scenes footage and some other silliness—so Mike Judge fans, especially, will want to take a few minutes to check it out.

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