Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Extract: We Should Bottle Mike Judge

Extract,mike judge,movie poster

Everyone knows Mike Judge, or at least they should. He created Beavis & Butt-Head. Enough said? Hardly! He also created King of the Hill, and directed the cult classic Office Space. Unfortunately, working in an office, little gags and jokes from that movie (as well as the American version of the television show The Office) has permeated the conversational minutiae of daily life in an office. Luckily, he always does extremely entertaining work, so I can forgive him making it so ridiculously popular films that they almost become annoying.

I doubt that Extract will be like that. It was good, and funny, and had a great feel to it. However, so did Idiocracy, and unfortunately, that movie didn't do as well as I think it could have. It didn't even really become a cult classic like Office Space did. I do think that he's getting somewhat more confident as a filmmaker, however, and I sincerely hope that he puts a few more films out now that this is King of the Hill's last season (I think; right?). I don't want him to create another series (didn't he already try with that terrible Goode Family thing? That sucked and got cancelled, right?); I don't want him to create another version of Office Space, either. I think it only became a cult classic because it was very identifiable with the increasing number of disenfranchised young people working in white collar type jobs. This may be a blending of old mentality and new mentality, as the film is set in a factory, but mostly told from the perspective of the founder and owner, Joel Reynolds (Jason Bateman).

Ben Affleck,jason bateman,extract

Joel Reynolds (Bateman) began his extract company when he figured out some chemistry stuff to be able to extract food flavors. He currently runs his factory full of misfits, and is dissatisfied with his life and his marriage (to Suzie, played by Kristen Wiig). He hasn't had sex with his wife in a month, and his workers are all idiots, complainers, or losers. He's trying to sell off his company to General Mills, but an accident at the factor puts those plans on hold. Due to a series of odd, Rube Goldberg-ian events, one of his employees (Clifton Collins, Jr.) loses a testicle, but intends to settle. Hearing about the accident, con-artist and drifter Cindy (Mila Kunis) shows up to talk him into suing, with the intent to steal the money. He also gets some very bad advice from his best friend Dean (Ben Affleck), when Joel expresses some romantic desires for Cindy. Dean suggests they hire a gigolo to seduce Suzie, so Joel doesn't have to feel guilty about having an affair with Cindy. Needless to say, things get complicated, strange, but wholly amusing.

The film stars a plethora of pretty familiar faces. Jason Bateman headlines with Ben Affleck supporting him surprisingly well. Kristen Wiig is pretty fantastic as his wife Suzie, who is also dissatisfied with their current lot in life, but Joel is too caught up with work and his own annoyance to notice. Mila Kunis has been in everything lately; I even saw her in a preview for the new Denzel Washington movie The Book of Eli. I'm not sure if it's a bad thing, because she's not intolerable, but I think she's going to have some problems if she tries to do too much. Dustin Milligan is the dim-witted gigolo that they hire; apparently he's on the CW or something, though I've never seen him in anything before this film. Gene Simmons is a personal injury lawyer (and pretty great), and J.K. Simmons is Joel's business partner, who can't even bother to learn the employees names. Mike Judge himself even appears as a union organizer who sounds suspiciously like Hank Hill. The supporting cast is pretty excellent, and they play their parts well (annoying characters are really annoying, dumb characters are really dumb, etc.).

jason bateman,mila kunis,extract

Mike Judge has a knack for putting the everyman into lead roles, and making it interesting. By all accounts, Joel is a somewhat whiny, somewhat self-absorbed business owner, but Jason Bateman plays him in such a way that he's engaging and interesting. Of course, I'm sure he was written that way, too (by Mike Judge). It's kind of difficult to explain why the movie is enjoyable, which is a problem I have with Office Space, as well. It amuses me and entertains me; it's well written, subtly directed (nothing flashy happens because nothing needs to, we just need to be present for the interactions of characters and their dialogue), and is pretty well acted. I was even entertained by Ben Affleck, which hardly ever happens.

I feel kind of bad, I don't really have much to say about the movie, other than it's worth seeing. However, it has a caveat. If you liked Idiocracy, you'll probably like this movie. If you just liked Office Space, you might like Extract, but, then again, you might not. They're not really the same. I guess it's not really the same as Idiocracy, either, but... it's different, though. Like I said, it's hard to explain.

Let me give it a quick shot. It has a lot of timing. Does that make sense? A lot of the humour is related to the lines and delivery, but also relies pretty heavily on the timing of those lines, and the timing of reactions. It's very subtle. It's highly enjoyable. Also, when Brad the dumb gigolo talks about being "in love" with Suzie (yeah, it happens), there's this sweet, slow piano music that plays in the background. Even when he has to talk about it like five times in a scene because he's so dumb, the sweet romantic piano music is still there.

It may not be worth a theater viewing (since there are no explosions or anything), but it's definitely worth a viewing, however you want to do it. I give it three and a half testicle destroying arbitrary factory accidents out of five, or three and a half David Koechners running up to your car while you're coming home from work, trying to bore you to death, or annoy you to murder, apparently.

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