Starring Jason Bateman, Ben Affleck, Mila Kunis, and Kristen Wiig
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.