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Friday
Sep042009

Movie Review - 'Extract'

Extract

Starring Jason Bateman, Ben Affleck, Mila Kunis, and Kristen Wiig
Directed by Mike Judge
Rated R



extractposter.jpg It's a strange feeling rooting for a movie you want to be better than it is but that never really gets there. Mike Judge has had a big impact on the world of comedy in the past 20 years, thanks to Beavis and Butt-Head, Office Space, and King of the Hill, but he isn't given as much credit for those distinct creations as he should.

His new film Extract finds Judge showing off some of the best of his abilities, returning him to a comedy about life of a job as in Office Space while adding the worn-in hometown vibe of King of the Hill. And the movie is funny and pleasant. But that's about all it musters.

Much of why the film is a bit milquetoast is thanks to Joel Reynolds (Jason Bateman), who as a leading character is probably too nice, too straightlaced, too warm, and too easy to walk over. Extract reflects who he is - as it should - but it keeps the movie from really crackling the way it should. And in a lot of ways, Joel is a bit of an observer in his own story.

Now, to the degree that Extract follows that map, it's a pretty good flick. It's never bland, the laughs never have to wait very long for the story to find them, and Judge - as he always does - creates a strange little universe of supporting characters, from Joel's wife (Kristen Wiig), who only has time for the advances of the poolboy, to the irascible J.K. Simmons as the irascible J.K. Simmons.

Much has been made in some circles of Mila Kunis in this movie. She's a veteran of That 70s Show, who looked like another casualty of the TV-to-film meatgrinder that more often than not clips young careers fairly early. Last year, Kunis showed a greater physical and comedic maturity in Forgetting Sarah Marshall, and it really lifted the veil off what could be the most promising film career of anyone in the 70s Show cast, including Ashton Kutcher.

However, as the object of poor Joel's mid-life obsession, Kunis is in an untenable position: We don't want Joel to ruin his marriage any more than it already is because we like him and he's a good person. So she can't be too dangerous or even too flirtatious, because this isn't a movie about a guy escaping his life but rather coming to terms with how he's trapped in his life.

There are some solid performances; I particularly liked Ben Affleck as Joel's stoner friend Dean, the devil sitting on his pal's shoulder whispering bad ideas into his ear with no angel counterpart. Clifton Collins, Jr. has some good scenes as the unfortunate Step. See the movie and you'll find out why you don't want to trade places with him. And Bateman, so good in a similar role as Michael Bluth on Arrested Development, plays this buttoned-down comedy - to borrow a phrase from Bob Newhart - about as well as it can be played.

But Extract feels like exactly that. It's as if in the process of achieving this flavor, part of what we're really craving has been sacrificed.

Reader Comments (2)

Jason Bateman is great actor. He was awesome in arrested development. I have to see this movie, must be great. Thanks for review. Clenbuterol

Thursday, April 29, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterAnavar

This movie appoints a specific theme experienced by many families. The husband (Joel) too workaholic, forget his wife. It's compounded by the presence of Cindy at work place. But, the ending is good. And I like the wife's satire “hen we say things like, "I don't think so," or "I'm not sure," or we close the door in your face, that means, "No."”

Sunday, February 27, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterNard4Reynard

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