Friday, January 4, 2013

Review: Extract

So I think it’s fair to say that I’d prefer to be writing up a review for Les Misérables or Chronicle or any number of films I’d like to do some sort of mini-reviews. However long time readers will remember that I’m a big fan of tradition and, as per tradition, the first review of the year every year is a flick with Mila Kunis in it. I guess I could have reviewed Ted, which I did catch months ago, but I would have had to watch it again to refresh my memory but Extract was streaming on Netflix and I’m lazy. Extract it is.

 Extract was directed by Mike Judge who is the creator of Beavis and Butt-head as well as King of the Hill (which is a show I love). He also directed Office Space, one of the most hilarious and quotable comedies in history (and he directed Idiocracy, a movie that also happened). There’s some pretty good stock in this film so I’m willing to give it a shot.

Full review after the jump.

I feel like I'm supposed to care about them but I just don't
Joel Reynolds (Jason Bateman) is the owner of a successful flavor extracts company. Despite this his home life is troubled as his life stopped having sex with him and it’s left him miserable. Things go from mediocre to bad quickly when one of his employees Step (Clifton Collins, Jr.) is injured on the job. This sets off a chain of events that begin to unravel every aspect of Joel’s life.

Anyone who comes into this movie looking for Office Space is going to be disappointed. Regardless of what else I have to say about this film you need to understand that everything that was good about that film is ether missing here or isn’t done as well. However since Office Space is kind of legendary at this point that doesn’t necessarily make Extract “bad” for not quite living up to it. Normally it wouldn’t even matter since movies are supposed to stand on their own anyway. However Judge himself said this flick was some sort of companion piece to his beloved film and many sources made a huge deal about Judge’s return to a workplace comedy” so comparisons are impossible not to make. But if you want to enjoy Extract even a little you’ll have to put that out of your head.

Anyway the movie is pretty funny. It has its moments and possesses a cast of funny and quirky characters. I’d like to say more good things about it than that but unfortunately there isn’t much. It’s alight; it never feels like a poor film and it flaws never make it impossible to enjoy but there’s not much to it either. In fact after watching it felt almost pointless. I like stories where the characters are forced to grow or at least achieve some goal. Here, after everything is said and done with the story, nothing is gained and nothing is lost for most anyone, especially our protagonist who seems like he’ll be exactly where he began the film. Hell, he doesn’t even get to have sex with his wife which is really all he wanted anyway. Cue fog horn.

90% of Mila's scene are just her making dudes look like idiots
The characters are indeed quirky like I said but not many of them are all that interesting and fewer are people you’d really want to root for. Joel, who feels a lot like Michael from Arrested Development, is too much of a wish washy wimp for me to really get behind as most of his problems could be solved if, you know, talked to people rather than complicated drug induced barging with shady idiots. Ben Affleck is pretty good as Joel’s untrustworthy best friend but, you know, he’s  super untrustworthy. That’s not a huge issue and he’s the character I like the most so it’s cool. Mila Kunis plays Cindy and while she drives much of the plot she isn’t around that much. I didn’t even realize she was in this flick when the trailers first came out and now I see why. She’s fine, neither bad nor particularly great but her character confuses me a bit. She’s a con artist and thief her whole “relationship” is weird and their last scene together where it’s implied she’s “not such a bad person after all” doesn’t make too much sense because there’s no pay off whatsoever. It hurts the flow of the film.

Kristen Wiig is in this movie but she is criminally underused. This likely due to this film coming out two years before her breakout role in Bridesmaid . It’s a shame because she’s pretty good and her character, had it been furthered explored, could have really helped this film. 

Speaking of the flow of the film this is a particular uneven flick. It goes back and forth on how much of a black comedy it wants to be from scene to scene. This indecision makes watching the movie a chore. It seems to want to dive into the “Dead Baby Humor” but never quite musters the courage to commit to it. A that same time certain plot points keep it from being anything close to a light comedy. It’s hard to place exactly where this film is at with its tone. Also, though I hate to say it, it’s just not as funny as it probably could be. I barely chuckled throughout the viewing. 

Ben Affleck looking like a dirty hippie is probably a "Pro"
Extract isn’t a bad movie but its characters aren’t memorable, the tone is uneven and it’s not nearly as funny as a film written by Mike Judge probably should have been. Still it’s a decent enough film to watch and even with those flaws it’s still an average movie at the worst. Check it out if you enjoy the actors or just want to get your hands on all things Mike Judge. 

Extract gets 3 out of 5 Adorable Pandas


-It has it’s moments as a quirky comedy 


-Uneven tone 

- The characters feel like they could have and should have been better

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