PLOT: The future was looking bright for Joel. He has worked hard all his life to create his own extract business and he has succeeded. He has a nice house and a lovely wife, and he is close to selling his company with hopes of starting a new chapter in his life. But once one of his employees gets his nuts shot off during work hours, he finds that everything he holds dear is at risk. Will he be sued by a scumbag lawyer and watch his company crumble? And will he ever get home before his wife gets the sweats on? From dumb gigolos to hottie con artists, Joel finds a bumpy road to keep his life in order.
When OFFICE SPACE was released to the public back in 1999, the working class finally got a little taste of fantasy. What if you could somehow swindle a bunch of money from your work and never deal with your boss, or “The Bobs” again? Mike Judge had expanded the universe he had already created with “Beavis and Butthead” and let people know that he could deal with adults in a very real and funny way. Well if you are looking for that sense of humor that is more of a celebration of the working class hero as opposed to laughing at them, look no further than his latest feature EXTRACT. Once again, he offers us a flawed, and dare I say dull hero, with Jason Bateman playing the every man trying to get ahead. But this time, Joel (Bateman) has created a successful “extract” business and owns a nice home with a nice wife. Yet things are never what they seem, and poor Joel is far from happy with the wonderful world of possessions he has created. Especially when his wife Suzie (Kristen Wiig) puts on the sweats… if you’ve seen the trailer, you know what I’m talking about.
As with Office Space, Mike puts his very average and slightly odd characters into some very difficult situations. Everything is going great for Joel while he is at the final stages of selling his company with hopes of eventually spending more time with his lonely wife. But things go sour as they always do, when one of his overzealous employees, Step (Clifton Collins Jr.) gets his testicles torn off. At first, Step is fine with just receiving what he is owed, that is until a con artist named Cindy (Mila Kunis) gets involved. Let’s just say that Cindy has an obvious power over the men (and even women) at the factory, but especially over Step and Joel. Of course as things get complicated, things get really funny in a very subtle and pure Mike Judge way. Much of the responsibility of all the trauma happens to be an old friend of Joel named Dean. Yes, that is Ben Affleck and yes he is wonderfully hysterical. This may be his best performance to date… but not just in a ‘yeah, he’s pretty good’ way, but in a, ‘seriously… that is Ben Affleck and he is fantastic’ kind of way.
I love the world that Mike Judge has created with Extract. The humor is solid, smart and offbeat. Again, he creates a bunch of strange folks that seem perfectly real. The next door neighbor that everyone hates is here, and he is played to absolute perfection by David Koechner. You know the guy, the one who just doesn’t take a hint. You could tell him that you are going to have to beat him down and he thinks you are just having fun. Even Mila Kunis as the trampy con artist is absolutely likable. In fact, not a single character has a pure heart here… well, that isn’t entirely true. Collins’ Step is the one character that really doesn’t want to hurt anybody. And Clifton gives him just the right amount of swagger when necessary, but he also shows that this here Step has a good heart and he don’t want sumthin’ fer nuthin’. Yet for all the flaws and sins committed, every single character is decent in their own way. And that is the beauty here, that they are all written with care and not meant to be made fun of.
While Mike remains fairly simple in the way he presents his world, it is a step up from his previous work. Extract is very well shot film indeed, but nothing that will distract from the character driven humor. But it certainly looked like he has grown a little as a director. And once again, his choice of music is absolutely perfect, which includes several old country tunes that felt right at home. This is pure Judge territory. It has the heart and warmth of a show like “King of the Hill” and the working man’s blues humor of OFFICE SPACE. I love his casting choices here. It is a pleasure to see Kristen Wiig as the wife who is just waiting for something more. She could have really gone the bitch route, but thankfully she doesn’t. This is a fun performance and she fit right in with Jason Bateman. The two have a very charming chemistry, no matter who she is screwing. Even the final scene between the two is so strange and really very sweet. I certainly won’t give anything away, but I will gladly say that Mike Judge has given another shout out to the working class and it’s funny as hell.
RATING: 8.5/10 - JimmyO