Published Sep 03, 2009Extract is only the third live-action feature by writer/director Mike Judge, who has earned himself a place in comedy history with Office Space, King Of The Hill and of course, Beavis And Butt-Head. He hasn't done many films simply because he's been so busy running his successful TV shows for the past 15 years or so. However, for years Judge's friends and collaborators claimed he was sitting on piles of unproduced comedic gold and was just waiting for the free time to launch it into the world.
With King Of The Hill finally over, it looked like the great Judge finally had a chance to show off these unseen goods. Unfortunately, Extract is not a new comedy classic. The man still knows funny but he just can't hit them out of the park every time.
Jason Bateman stars as a perpetually stressed owner of an extract plant who's simultaneously juggling a hostile work environment, a wife who's giving him nothing, nosey neighbours, a costly testicle-related lawsuit, a hot scam artist temp worker and a destructive relationship with his drugged-up best friend (oddly played by a bearded Ben Affleck).
That's a lot of stuff happening at once for a 90-minute movie and unfortunately, Judge has a hard time juggling it all. There are many funny characters and sequences (especially a hilariously irritating passive-aggressive neighbour played by David Koechner) but there's just too much going on for any real sense of cohesion.
It's almost as if Mike Judge had so many ideas for a post-King Of The Hill movie that he tried to combine two or three films into one. He can't quite decide if he wants to make a quirky, realistic character piece or a subtle satire on corporate politics and worker lawsuits.
In the end, none of the strands are fully fleshed out. Still, even at half-strength Mike Judge is funnier than most comedic filmmakers. The guy just needs to focus more next time if he wants to make another comedy classic. (Maple)