Sunday, October 11, 2009

Movie with Abe: Extract

Directed by Mike Judge
Released September 4, 2009

“Extract” is probably best dissected by looking at director Mike Judge’s previous two films. The rather simple story of the manager of an extract plant isn’t nearly as focused as Judge’s 1999 cult classic “Office Space,” but it’s far more mature than his unreleased 2006 futuristic farce “Idiocracy.” It’s still very much a sardonic, slow-moving, slightly more suggestive comedy that’s enjoyable but not overly memorable. David Koechner’s irritating neighbor Nathan is almost a reincarnation of Gary Cole’s Bill Lumbergh from “Office Space,” so fans of that film will likely enjoy seeing such a similar sideline character. But like that film, and more problematically so, this one isn’t determined to get anywhere fast, and as a result, its characters feel kept down and the outrageous humor is fairly muted.

Jason Bateman, the former patriarch on “Arrested Development” who has since graduated to the role of legitimate movie star, is the perfect actor to headline this film. He has a sarcastic attitude and a sedated energy about him where he never quite gets excited or loses his temper, no matter how frustrating his situation might be. He’s surrounded by an odd but entertaining troop of performers, including a grizzly, grimy Ben Affleck, a ruffled redneck Clifton Collins, Jr., and a scheming, seductive Mila Kunis. Kristin Wiig (“Saturday Night Live”) and the fantastic J.K. Simmons (“Juno,” “The Closer”) round out an impressive cast that, since the extract plant really doesn’t operate too well, keeps the film running surprisingly well.

There’s nothing inherently wrong with “Extract,” but it doesn’t exactly end with any sort of sense of fulfillment. It doesn’t pretend to be high-minded, meaningful comedy, but it’s not nearly as outlandish or inappropriately fun as it could be. It’s not even necessarily childish, which might have been hilarious, but instead it just doesn’t quite deliver. It’s the kind of film that seems like it’s waiting for some big event to get things going, though it never quite happens. There are moments of entertaining humor throughout, but there’s never a big scene that really makes it all worth it. It’s a fun, fleeting, faraway look at one man’s very lackluster life, and that’s all it is.


Watch the Minute with Abe here.

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