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  Extract Bottling It
Year: 2009
Director: Mike Judge
Stars: Jason Bateman, Mila Kunis, Kristen Wiig, Ben Affleck, J.K. Simmons, Clifton Collins Jr, Dustin Milligan, David Koechner, Beth Grant, T.J. Miller, Javier Gutierrez, Lidia Porto, Gene Simmons, Matt Schulze, Lamberto Gutierrez, Brent Briscoe, Mike Judge
Genre: ComedyBuy from Amazon
Rating:  7 (from 1 vote)
Review: Joel (Jason Bateman) runs his own company, Reynold's Extract, selling his food flavouring and is doing so well he'd consider selling the business to a larger company then retiring on the profits. But he has other things on his mind at the moment, specifically his home life: his wife Suzie (Kristen Wiig) is now reluctant to have sex with him and he doesn't feel he can ask why, so noncommunicative has their relationship become. He knows if he doesn't get back from the office by eight o'clock that she will dress down in comfort clothes and there will be no way he's getting amorous with her after that, so this evening he makes an effort to make it back in time. The trouble is, there are so many people in his life who constitute obstacles to his happiness...

Extract followed the pattern of films directed by Mike Judge in that while his television work was generally a success, when he made movies, the TV spin-off Beavis and Butthead Do America aside, they would disappoint at the box office then find a healthy cult audience thereafter on home video. With this case, on the other hand, it was far more difficult to pigeonhole as a comedy with a killer premise: Office Space was about the sheer hell of the corporate environment for the workers at the bottom of the pile and Idiocracy was a science fiction spoof positing that the stupid people would eventually take over the whole world; with this it was more a drama than a laugh out loud gigglefest.

Not that it wasn't able to bring out the chuckles, but the belly laughs were rather more lacking as Judge got deeper into the character side of his writing, and that offered more substance than his fans were used to as far as relationships went. It could just as easily have been made in the nineteen-seventies with someone like Bruce Dern taking the Bateman lead role, it was that kind of low key but sharply played experience, though from a different angle much of the plot appeared to be detailing how the world of Idiocracy got its start as almost everyone in it behaves like a self-serving moron, and those who do not find those who do influencing their behaviour to a detrimental degree. Only one character has anything like a grip on how to flourish in this society.

She is the conwoman we see at the pre-credits sequence stealing an expensive electric guitar by dazzling the assistants with her pulchritude, Cindy (Mila Kunis), and she continues to fool those around her who equate good looks with a pure heart as all the while she is scheming her way through them to exploit their better natures - or downright foolishness. She enters Joel's life when she reads in the newspaper about an industrial accident at the Reynold's plant. Basically it was down to more stupidity, but an employee, Step (Clifton Collins Jr) has one of his testicles blown off and she sees an opportunity to sue Joel for a million dollars that she can pocket by pretending to be romantically interested in Step and persuading him to get as much compensation out of the business as possible.

To carry this off she gets a job at Reynold's, helping herself to employees' belongings that a racist chatterbox blames on the new Mexican guy (Javier Gutierrez), and makes Joel believe he has a chance with her sexually. The wool thus pulled over his eyes, a deceptively complex plot unfolds as his barman friend Dean (Ben Affleck) indulges in subterfuge himself - everyone with a couple of braincells to rub together here uses them for their own ends - as he drugs Joel then convinces him to accept a ruse that will see Suzie sleep with a "gigolo" (Dustin Milligan) to prove to her husband that sleeping with Cindy would be perfectly acceptable. Time and again our hapless hero is dumbed down through the effects of being surrounded by folks who are essentially stupid, yet just as you think this is going to get truly bad tempered and start lashing out, Judge does an interesting thing. As if taking on the criticisms of Idiocracy's misanthropy, Extract resolves itself in a sweet, though no less incisive, fashion, as it accepts the world, flaws and all, as in need of improvement but no dead loss. Music by George S. Clinton.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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