While still most widely known for his animated work with "King of the Hill" and "Beavis and Butthead", Mike Judge seems to be making a spot for himself as a filmmaker making great films that no one sees, but eventually become huge cult hits - see "Office Space" (which didn't do particularly well in theaters, then became a massive hit on video) and the terrific "Idiocracy".
While "Extract" isn't up to the level of those two films, it's another amusing comedy from Judge. The picture stars Jason Bateman as Joel (Kristen Wiig), the owner of a small business that produces flavor extracts. He's unhappy in his marriage, unhappy with his neighbor and not even particularly happy at work, where he looks out over the floor of the factory as his workers bicker.
Unfortunately, when the workers decide to slack off for a moment, a very painful accident occurs and the employee, Step (Clifton Collins, Jr) has to get airlifted out. While Joel worries that the incident may cause the buyout of the company to be jeopardized, the employee says that he won't sue. That is, at least he won't until a beautiful con artist named Cindy (Mila Kunis) comes into town and convinces him to hire a local shark (Gene Simmons - yes, that Gene Simmons) lawyer.
With nowhere else to turn, Joel gets advice from former co-worker Dean, a shaggy-haired bartender who dispenses drugs and not-particularly good advice. Affleck does a terrific job and gets some solid laughs, doing another version of Diedrich Bader's neighbor character from "Office Space".
"Extract" does take from the "Space" formula in some regards, but it does have a fine cast going for it - especially Bateman, who is a perfect fit for the role. Kunis is also charming in the con artist role, while Affeck turns in a sloppy (in an enjoyable, ridiculous way), fun little performance.
"Extract" has a lot of little moments and very nice performances, but I think my main issue is that it never really quite builds towards anything. It's another interesting effort from Judge, but hopefully the director's next film will be a move away from the workplace.
VIDEO: "Extract" is presented on DVD in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen by Miramax. The low-budget comedy's picture quality was fair-to-good, as the picture could look a bit soft during many scenes. No wear/tear was seen on the print, but a couple of slight instances of edge enhancement were spotted. Colors appear a tad subdued/flat during the film, although this may be by intent.
SOUND: The film's Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack remained understandably tame, with no need for the rear speakers to enter into the picture beyond some light ambience and mild reinforcement of the music. Audio quality was just fine, with clear dialogue and full, well-recorded score.
EXTRAS: A 10-minute featurette: "Mike Judge's Secret Recipe" offers interviews with cast/crew. We also get a series of trailers ("When in Rome", etc) for other titles from the studio.
Final Thoughts: "Extract" is more about the journey than the destination; while the movie doesn't really build towards a big conclusion, the film's solid ensemble cast makes for some good laughs along the way. The DVD set provides fine audio/video quality, as well as a minor supplement.
The Film B