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Extract DVD Review

Extract movie poster Extract

Theatrical Release: September 4, 2009 / Running Time: 92 Minutes / Rating: R

Writer/Director: Mike Judge

Cast: Jason Bateman (Joel Reynold), Mila Kunis (Cindy), Kristen Wiig (Suzie Reynold), Ben Affleck (Dean), J.K. Simmons (Brian), Clifton Collins, Jr. (Don "Step" Wilkinson), Dustin Milligan (Brad Sanchez), David Koechner (Nathan), Beth Grant (Mary), T.J. Miller (Rory), Javier Gutierrez (Hector), Lidia Porto (Gabriella), Gene Simmons (Joe Adler), Matt Schulze (Willie), Lamberto Gutierrez (Victor), Brent Briscoe (Phil), Hal Sparks (Guitar Salesman #1), Nick Thune (Guitar Salesman #2), Mike Judge (Jim - uncredited)

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As the writer/director of one of the most beloved comedies of the 1990s (Office Space) and the creator of one of the longest-running sitcoms of all-time (the animated "King of the Hill"), you would think that Mike Judge would have no trouble getting a movie made and released to the public.
You would be half-right. Judge, who rose to fame with MTV's controversial, generation-defining "Beavis and Butt-Head", carries enough clout to be able to direct films from his own scripts with little studio interference. It's the distribution part that seems to thwart the filmmaker.

Office Space barely earned back its $10 million budget in 1999. That was a rich sum compared to what Judge's next film, Idiocracy, did, playing in just 130 theaters fall 2006 before looking like a direct-to-video release. You're forgiven if you haven't heard of Judge's latest movie, Extract. It received semi-limited theatrical release from Miramax in what is traditionally the year's slowest moviegoing month, September, and fell a few thousand dollars short of Office Space's $10.8 M gross (ignoring ten years of substantial movie ticket inflation).

"Extract" stars Jason Bateman as Joel Reynold, a food flavoring plant manager with a growing number of life concerns. Ben Affleck goes grungy and bearded in the supporting role of Joel's best friend, bartender Dean.

Like Office Space, Extract centers on a workplace in a relatable, unidentified American suburb. Rather than a discontented working stiff, our protagonist is a discontented boss. Joel (Jason Bateman) is the founder and chief of Reynold's Extract, a small factory that produces and bottles vanilla extract and other food flavorings. The job has earned Joel a fancy BMW and an immense residence, plus the privilege of dealing with squabbles of the assembly lines his office overlooks. When his second in command, Brian (J.K. Simmons), reports that General Mills may be interested in buying the business, Joel is game to sign away the deed. Then, a freak accident results in an employee nicknamed "Step" (Clifton Collins, Jr.) losing a testicle. Not only does the incident give the buyer pause, but legal proceedings could bankrupt the company.

The film is about more than just life at a plant. Joel's marriage is a source of frustration; his coupon designer wife Suzie (Kristen Wiig) hasn't had sex with him in months, deflecting propositions with excuses and drawn-in sweatpants. Hearing about the situation, Joel's best friend, self-medicating bartender Dean (a shaggy-haired, bearded Ben Affleck) comes up with a plan to get Joel into bed with evidently interested young temp Cindy (Mila Kunis) sans guilt. But Cindy isn't what she seems, as the film's opening scene reveals to us and others confirm.

A dense gigolo (Dustin Milligan), a tough-talking as-seen-on-TV lawyer (Kiss rocker Gene Simmons), a dumbfoundingly chatty next-door neighbor (David Koechner), and worker dissatisfaction are all thrown into the mix.

Drifter, sociopath, and temp (not tramp) Cindy (Mila Kunis) sees injured worker Don "Step" Wilkinson (Clifton Collins, Jr.) as her path to riches. Ambulance-chasing lawyer Joe Adler (KISS rocker Gene Simmons) offers to revise his client's proposed settlement figure, with one unusual term involving this door.

Extract channels some of the tones and attitudes of Office Space, but its ideas are far more grounded than liberating. Judge again displays his knack for humorously depicting curiously acceptable behavior from ordinary working class folk. The quirks and mannerisms aren't much exaggerated, which makes the film's universe human and palpable, but also light on the big laughs that have endeared so many viewers to Judge's first workplace comedy. No character here is entirely likable or happy and that makes the picture more depressing than desired.

The film is uneven too, bouncing us between Joel's worrisome repressions, the bland factory floor tension, and Cindy's manipulative grifting, without ever finding solid footing on any of those fronts. Some of the awkward interactions are genuinely entertaining (particularly those involving J.K. Simmons and Koechner) and most are attention-sustaining, but they never quite gel enough to yield the big comedic or dramatic payoffs you're hoping for. Bateman deserves credit for keeping the intricate, potentially off-putting proceedings as buoyant as they are.

Even when dabbling in off-key drug humor, Extract is never uninteresting or bad. Unfortunately, it also never finds the cohesiveness or inspiration to qualify as something memorable and entertaining. We have to settle for witty, which achieved on a regular basis still puts the film above much of the competition.

Buy Extract on DVD from Amazon.com DVD Details

1.85:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Dolby Digital 5.1 (English, French)
Subtitles: English for Hearing Impaired, French, Spanish
Closed Captioned; Extra Subtitled and Captioned
Release Date: December 22, 2009
Single-sided, dual-layered disc (DVD-9)
Suggested Retail Price: $29.99
Black Keepcase
Also available on Blu-ray Disc

VIDEO and AUDIO

Extract looks great in this 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer. Despite the film's relatively small budget, there are no concerns whatsoever to note in the vibrant, flawless picture. The Dolby 5.1 soundtrack is less remarkable, but also entirely satisfactory.

Writer/director Mike Judge (second from right), producer John Altschuler, and two of three cast members appear to enjoy playback of a just-filmed scene in the featurette "Mike Judge's Secret Recipe." Brad the gigolo (Dustin Milligan) and Joel's wife Suzie (Kristen Wiig) make appearances, as Dean (Ben Affleck) speaks Joel (Jason Bateman) on the DVD's rotating main menu.

BONUS FEATURES, MENUS and PACKAGING

The sticker atop this DVD identifies it as a 1-Disc edition, suggesting that a bigger theatrical turnout may have earned Extract a Deluxe Edition with more extras and a digital copy, like the premium sets Walt Disney Company's higher-grossing films have received this year.
As is, this disc doesn't even get a Special Features section, listing its one extra directly on the main menu.

That extra is "Mike Judge's Secret Recipe" (10:47), a making-of featurette. It spends the first few minutes discussing what it was like to film in a working factory, before turning our attention to each of the leading cast members and their characters. Seen here are interviews, B-roll footage, and a gag of Mike Judge directing himself in his uncredited part. It's a worthy inclusion with some appreciated insight, but, like the film, not necessarily something you'll remember very long.

The Blu-ray edition of Extract also includes a deleted scene and extended scenes.

The DVD opens with trailers for When in Rome, Surrogates, and The Boys are Back. In addition to these three previews, the Sneak Peeks menu holds promos for Blu-ray Disc, 10 Things I Hate About You: 10th Anniversary Special Edition, "Kyle XY": The Complete Third and Final Season, "The Secret Life of the American Teenager": Season 3, X-Games: The Movie, "10 Things I Hate About You": Volume One, "Make It or Break It": Season One, and "Greek": Chapter Four.

The DVD's animated main menu spins characters around a wheel, with corresponding clips displaying in thought bubbles and speech captions. Submenus give us a static variation on the same theme with score excerpts playing. The only extra inside the standard black keepcase is a booklet promoting Blu-ray.

Ever clad in a colorful polo shirt, the factory's impersonal second in command Brian (J.K. Simmons) responds to Mary's (Beth Grant) complaints about new guy Hector (Javier Gutierrez). David Koechner amuses as persistent neighbor Nathan, who's always around to extend Joel's ride home.

CLOSING THOUGHTS

Mike Judge's Extract is an engaging and sometimes amusing character study. While those expecting a laugh riot on the order of Office Space will likely be disappointed, those anticipating a typical 21st century comedy may be pleasantly surprised to get something smarter and richer. As a whole, the film may not satisfy, but it delivers enough of interest to merit seeing. With just one relatively routine featurette, Miramax's DVD is best suited to a rental. It's unfortunate that the deleted and extended scenes are kept exclusive to Blu-ray when there's ample room for them here. Nonetheless, they're probably not a deal-maker/breaker.

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Related Interview:
Click to read our interview with "Extract" and "Office Space" writer/director Mike Judge.
Mike Judge, writer/director of Extract and Office Space



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The Cast of Extract:
Jason Bateman: Hancock Juno Silver Spoons: The Complete First Season | J.K. Simmons: I Love You, Man
Kristen Wiig: Adventureland | Ben Affleck: He's Just Not That Into You | David Koechner: Balls of Fury The Comebacks
Workplace Comedy TV: Scrubs: Season 8 NewsRadio: The Complete Series 30 Rock: Season 3 Reno 911!: Season 6 Ugly Betty: Season 3
Workplace Comedy Film: Kinky Boots Labor Pains Big (Extended Edition)

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Reviewed December 14, 2009.



Text copyright 2009 DVDizzy.com. Images copyright 2009 Miramax Films, Ternion Pictures, F+A Productions, 3 Arts Entertainment, and Buena Vista Home Entertainment.
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