Extract: Yeah, Sure, Okay
Before you even start watching Extract, you’re thinking about Office Space. The connections are inevitable, given the workplace setting and the Mike Judge pedigree and the fact that everyone in the world has seen Office Space about 800 times.
But Extract is neither as good nor as instantly relatable (for most people anyway) as Office Space. The former’s emphasis is more on the ludicrous Milton-type shenanigans than the beating-a-printer-with-a-baseball-bat stuff that we all can understand.
Extract is a funny movie, don’t get me wrong. Comedic high points include: Hal Sparks’ wig, perfect delivery by excellent supporting actors on lines like “Now I design coupons” and “I’m just going to sit here,” and a self-titled “gigolo” named Brad Chavez. And Ben Affleck is at his absolute best here in his role as the stoner bartender best friend. Although his wig is nowhere near as awesome as Hal’s.
Extract follows the adventures of Joel (Jason Bateman), a middle-aged guy who had one of those genius breakthroughs in college chemistry class that led to him figuring out some food flavoring process that earned him a lot of money and ownership of his own production company. He’s on the verge of being bought out by General Mills, to his delight. He has a wife, a best friend from his old pre-rich days (the Ben Affleck character), and a bunch of misfit employees. Then there’s the drifter con-artist played brilliantly by Mila Kunis, whom I love only because she reminds me so much of Rachel Bilson, and Brad the gigolo, played by one of the guys from the new 90210. Oh, and the personal injury lawyer played by Gene Simmons (who is way more appealing when standing in the proximity of Adam Lambert).
Like Office Space, Extract is set in an unspecified, unappealing suburb, where people mostly hate their jobs and their lives. Interestingly, Extract makes more direct allusions to class differences, as Joel and his wife live in an upper-middle-class subdivision in a McMansion with furniture that made me salivate (I recently spent 9 hours in an Ikea), while the rest of the cast is working class.
Aside from his house and his chemistry achievements there isn’t much to admire about Joel’s life – I mean, come on, the guy’s neighbor is Todd Packer – and it’s hard to care that much about the character, either. Also, I know Jason Bateman is great and funny, even if the only thing I’ve actually seen him in since The Hogan Family was Juno. But the Ron Livingston comparisons are unavoidable with a role like this, and so is the disappointment. Yes, Jason Bateman played the character perfectly. No, there were no “F*%#ing’ A” moments.
Extract serves a useful purpose on the world. It’s a fairly fun and funny movie to see when you just want to take a break from life and giggle for a while. It’s a straightforward movie about a guy’s mild midlife crisis that happens to involve a bunch of quirky supporting characters and a vaguely satirical atmosphere.
I’d rate Extract a “Rent It” if there were many better movies out, but given that it opened the same weekend as All About Steve, it deserves better. I still wish I’d gone to see District 9 instead, though.