Directed by: Mike Judge
Premise: The owner of a small extract flavoring plant (Jason Bateman) confronts multiple crises as he faces a lawsuit from an injured employee and he deals with marital problems.
What Works: Mike Judge is a rare kind of filmmaker: an auteur working in the comedy genre. His films find humor in the daily stupidity of American life and Extract continues that theme. Extract does a nice job with its characters; although Judge likes to expose the silliness of the culture, he has an appropriate degree of empathy for the characters in his films. Matt Schulze plays the injured employee, and the character is a moron but he is earnest and goodhearted and Schulze finds the balance between these two elements. Ben Affleck appears in a supporting role as a sleazy bartender who advises Jason Bateman’s character. It is an interesting play on the cliché of the bartender-philosopher who usually acts as a film’s conscience and gives the lead character the advice that allows him or her to make the right decision and resolve the story. In Extract, Affleck’s bartender gives very lousy, stupid advice that sets the plot in motion, and the rest of the story is dependent upon how Jason Bateman’s character deals with the problems that arise from that advice.
What Doesn’t: The story of Extract is a bit disjointed. The film has many subplots but no single storyline emerges as the lead and the film jerks around inelegantly between the plots.
Bottom Line: Extract is a fairly good film. It is not nearly as good as Mike Judge’s better work like Idiocracy and Office Space but it is much better than a lot of other comedies that have come out recently.
Episode: #255 (September 13, 2009)