This is a movie that you probably missed if you weren’t looking for it. I wanted to see it in the theatre and was waiting and watching for it and I still couldn’t find it. The film’s creator, Mike Judge, is also the creator of Beavis and Butt-Head and the movie Office Space. Ever since Beavis and Butt-Head, I have been a huge Mike Judge fan. Office Space sealed the deal and therefore, I couldn’t wait for Extract.
My wife was ho-hum about the movie but I managed to get it moved to the top of our Netflix cue when I realized that it was already on video (I still have no idea how it sneaked by us to video because I was honestly seeking it out to watch it at the theatre). So having her being ho-hum and the movie completely falling off the radar, I had suspicion that it might suck. Being that Jason Bateman, Ben Affleck, Kristen Wiig, and Mila Kunis are in this movie and that Mike Judge wrote and directed it, I just knew it couldn’t suck, but I was a little nervous. As you will see in this review, it did not suck.
My initial draw to see the movie was Mike Judge. But lately, I’ve been really digging Mila Kunis. She is a total babe and it made me want to see the movie even more. She ironically graced the cover of my Esquire magazine this month and there is a nice little layout with a couple good pics that you should check out. So, enough with the prelude and on with the review.
The movie is set in Texas as is the case with every Mike Judge project. The story centers around the lives of all the workers at a flavor extract plant. You have the plant manager Joel played by Jason Bateman. His friend Dean the bartender played by Ben Affleck. The plant manager’s wife Suzie played by Kristen Wiig. And the temptress con-artist Cindy played by Mila Kunis.
WARNING: there are some spoilers in the following synopsis.
Joel seems to have the American dream life: owns his own company, calls the shots, built the place from the ground up, pretty wife, nice house, et al. But things are not what they seem and the fragility of this seemingly perfect life are revealed one after another from the outset of the film. Joel is sexually frustrated because if he doesn’t make it home by 8PM he has no chance of getting into Suzie’s sweat-pants. To compound his difficulty in getting home by 8PM, he has to deal with nosey neighbor Nathan (David Koechner).
Joel consults with his bartender friend Dean who hatches a plan to get Suzie to cheat on him so he can cheat on her with a clean conscious. This plan backfires miserably. While this storyline is working it’s humor magic the main plot line is establishing itself around the plant’s affairs. Rory (T.J. Miller) gets into an work accident where his testicles get smashed and he gets sidelined from his job. The story of the accident makes the local paper and the prospect of Rory suing the plant catches the attention of Cindy who becomes intent on milking the plant out of every dime possible.
How could she weasel her way into the lives of the Joel and Rory? She’s totally hot and hot chicks can manipulate the hell out of any guy. She uses her charms to find out Rory’s name and address, gets him to fall head over heels with her, and convinces him to sue the plant. Rory hires attorney Joe Adler (Gene Simmons) and now Joel’s world is crumbling around him. His wife Suzie is now cheating on him because of Dean’s hair-brained plan and now his plant’s in complete jeapardy of getting sued to the point of extinction.
All those storylines play out from there and I’m not going to ruin everything for you. You’ll have to see it to know how it goes from there.
Mike Judge has a fantastic way of making his satire believable and something that common folks can relate to. In a Shakespearean way, he creates art from real human types and human situations. Most times, it’s the authenticity of the characters and situations that make for the best stories and art. Even though the characters are caricatures and there’s a certain amount of satire infused in them, they’re real. My best example of what I’m talking about here is Stephen King – when he writes stories that could actually happen, they’re some of the most compelling stories ever written. When he makes them too far out, they kinda suck. Mike Judge makes those stories that could really happen and infuses a comedy that makes them fun to watch.
This is a movie that grows on you. I went in with a lot of skepticism based on the fact that this movie just fell off the radar and my wife was expecting it to be a dud. As each character established his role, he grew on you. I can’t say I can relate to every one of those personality types exactly, but I can believe them and be endeared to them. There are scenes that make me bust out laughing so hard they make me need to see this movie again. And, like Office Space, each time I watch the movie, it’s going to grow on me some more and I’ll laugh again.
I remember when the Matrix came out. It received harsh reviews. The critics didn’t like it because critics generally suck. They didn’t see how ground breaking it was with the 360 degree camera movement and the depth of the story line. They later would revise their critique of that movie to be more in line with the reality that people loved it and it was awesome. People watched the Matrix again and again and it grew on them. I’m not going to put Extract in the same echelon as the Matrix, but I can draw a similar comparison in the sense that this movie has been overlooked and its popularity will swell as time goes by.
If you haven’t seen it (or even heard of it), you should put it in your cue and check it out. You won’t be disappointed.