After the cult success of Office Space, and the beloved long-running animated series King of the Hill, it is nice to see Mike Judge back directing another feature film about disillusioned regular working folks. Just think, without Office Space, there may have never been the British and U.S. television shows The Office. I digress here a little bit, but I’ve always felt that Mike Judge is the champion of the working man (or woman)… you know, all of us that don’t feel represented by the doctors, lawyers, and cops on dramatic TV. It is refreshing to see the daily lives of cubicle workers, propane (and propane accessories) salesmen, and, in this case, factory workers depicted in popular entertainment.
Bateman plays Joel, a self-made success who owns and runs a factory that makes extract flavorings, you know, those little bottles of vanilla or root beer flavor that you add to your recipes to give them that extra zing. His marriage to his wife Suzie (Kristen Wiig) has gone a little stale (if he is not home before her sweatpants go on, there will be no action in the bedroom). He and his business partner (Juno’s dad J.K. Simmons) are considering selling the company to a much larger conglomerate that would give them the big bucks, but may leave their employees out in the cold (or, at least, that’s what the workers fear).
One day when a hot young temp name Cindy (Mila Kunis) walks into the factory and listens with great interest as he waxes poetic about extracts, he can’t help but feel a little thrill that someone may actually be flirting with this sexually frustrated man. Let me say this, if your best friend is a bartender (played by the weirdly bearded Ben Affleck) whose advice usually ends with, “Here take this…” (sliding pills across the counter), maybe you shouldn’t heed his suggestion to hire a gigolo/pool boy to have a fling with your wife, which would logically (it seems) justify an affair with the hot Cindy. Hm.
Too bad this isn’t Joel’s only dilemma, as all hell breaks loose with a freak accident in the factory where one of his employees literally gets one of his balls shot off by a flying projectile. (Insert multiple jokes about balls here.)
Extract, due to the fabulous exasperated delivery of Jason Bateman, is always fun to watch. I laughed often through the whole film. (I will also say that one of the last jokes of the film made a person next to me crumple in half and weep high-pitched uncontrollable laughter that lasted several minutes.) The lines are clever and funny, and the cast, which also includes David Koechner as an annoying neighbor, Clifton Collins Jr. as the one-ball victim, and Dustin Milligan as the vacuous gigolo, is top notch. Strangely, the weakest link is Mila Kunis. Her role flits in and out of the story, even though she is a catalyst of much of the chaos. She does what she can, but has just about every scene stolen from her by her co-stars. Still, that is a relatively minor nitpick when you have assembled a comedic cast like this. For a late-summer comedy, Extract is sure fun to watch.