What constitutes success? Is there a secret ingredient, or is it purely work? Is it a happy marriage, or wealth? While this review won’t come close to scratching the surface of these questions. In 2009, Mike Judge built a comedy that took a bunch of drugs and examined these debates, all while remembering to make us laugh, in Extract.
Meet Joel Reynolds: He owns a successful Juice extract company, that is on the verge of being acquired. He should be thrilled, although his relationship might be missing the spark. His bar-owning buddy, Dean, suggests getting an escort (disguised as a pool cleaner) to seduce his wife, so he can have a guilt-free tryst. While Joel rebukes this, a night of stupefaction forces his hand on the matter. Enter Cindy, a pilferer who uses her charms to get the better of her targets. After a freak accident costs the factory worker his testicle, Cindy sees the factory as her next payday, and Joel sees her as the potential one-night-stand partner. As the elements of his drug-induced plan go into play, Joel must get to grips with what he wants.
While that description might sound a little hectic, Extract does a great job of keeping all the revolving plates spinning. Dealing with Joel’s odyssey as his company might be sold, the various dysfunctions on the factory floor, combined with the impending lawsuit, and with his marriage falling apart. Extract offers a wide variety of humour to accommodate a wide variety of tastes. Ranging from peak 2000s physical slapstick, some drug-induced comedy, and jokes grounded in the quirks of human nature. An example of this is how Extract keeps track of time by having Joel frequently encounters his annoyingly talkative neighbour, played by David Koechner. These interactions serving a solid reminder of the observational roots, that makes Mike Judge’s work widely enjoyable, so many years after the fact.
Extract boasts some impressive talent, even excluding Mike Judge, whose flair is felt behind the camera. After the acclaim of Arrested Development, Jason Bateman takes up a similar position as Joel Reynolds, who deals with the petty frustrations of his existence much similarly to Michael Bluth. Joel’s co-manager is played by J.K. Simmons, who has a habit of calling everybody Dingus. While she has proven her comedic ability countless times, Kristen Wiig has the honour of playing the straight-woman, Suzie Reynolds, to an increasing erratic Joel. Ben Affleck is also unrecognisable as Dean, the bar-owning buddy from his college days, who has a whole pharmacy behind his bar. Yet, it is Mila Kunis, who brings in laughs, wrapping the cast of characters around her finger.
Extract is a fine film, from the same talents that brought you Office Space and King of the Hill. The human elements that made all those projects a success remain here. It has a lot of keen ideas, and elements, but manages to balance them well enough. Along with an accredited ensemble that is not afraid to try some new roles in the name of comedy. Whatever your preferred flavour of humour, Extract keeps the essence pure.
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