Movie Review: Extract
Length: 92 minutes
Release Date: September 4, 2009
Directed by: Mike Judge
Genre: Comedy, Crime and Romance
Stars: 3 out of 5
"Extract" is a satire about the state of the American blue-collar labor force. Starring Jason Bateman, Kristen Wiig and Ben Affleck, the movie is a snarky comedy that pokes fun at the everyday trials of a factory owner. Although it lacks the sharp wit of director Mike Judge's previous film, "Idiocracy," the movie is entertaining and promises regular laughs.
The plot centers on Joel Reynolds (Jason Bateman), an affable and decent man who owns Reynolds Extract, a small factory that manufactures flavoring extracts. He created the company from nothing and cares about his products and workers. Joel is a relatively normal man who tends toward goodness. Although his life appears successful to outsiders, it is riddled with problems that form the central theme of the movie.
Joel's wife Suzie (Kristen Wiig) has closed herself off from him. By the time he gets home from work, she has no interest in interacting with him in any way. In addition to this rejection at home, Joel faces problems at the factory. Although he is personally invested in the lives of his workers and has worked hard to create a pleasant, comfortable workplace, trouble is afoot. Led by the devious Cindy (Mila Kunis), workers struggle to raise awareness of problems in the factory after an accident involving one of the employees.
Over the course of the movie, Joel's best friend Dean (Ben Affleck) tries to convince him to hire a man to seduce Suzie. Joel struggles to keep Cindy from ruining his company's financial future and fights his growing attraction to her because he wishes to save his marriage.
"Extract" is an understated, subtle film that embraces none of the typical tactics used in many comedies. Bateman is the film's shining star; he brings an undeniable likeability to the role that immediately encourages audiences to take his side. Viewers are likely to find themselves rooting for him, even when he considers unseemly actions. Bateman delivers a restrained performance with masterful skill, and even his tiniest facial expressions add to his character. As Joel, he personifies goodness and decency in a way that is entirely believable. His performance is the backbone of the movie and provides a unifying force that ties together the disparate subplots.
Unlike writer and director Mike Judge's other projects, which include the "Beavis and Butt-head" television series and the movie "Office Space," "Extract" is quiet and small in range. Comedic moments appear frequently, but they are often unexpected and gentle. Although this movie is not as dramatic as his previous work, it has a calm humor that captures the inner emotions of a common American laborer. Through the characters' expressions and small slips, viewers catch a glimpse of their inner emotional turmoil.
The supporting cast of "Extract" provides a solid foundation for Bateman's strong performance. Ben Affleck gives a strong performance as Dean. The famous actor is presented without fanfare, which allows the central focus to remain on the plot. His portrayal of Dean is believable and adds to the realness of the film. As Cindy, Kunis is beautiful, cunning and devious enough to convince viewers to root against her. Audiences are more likely to hope for Joel to triumph over her efforts to undermine the company's foothold.
Kristen Wiig shines as Joel's wife Suzie. Her performance is calm and quiet, a departure from the bold comedic performances for which she is known. Although she never says as much, her expressions communicate what is wrong in the marriage. Her husband has been busy working to build his company for years, and as a result, he has unwittingly neglected the passion in the relationship. Wiig communicates her displeasure at regular intervals in ways that are mostly unnoticed by her well-meaning husband. A close-up shot of Suzie cinching her sweatpants illustrates how she has responded by closing herself off from Joel's advances.
"Extract" is not as overtly funny as Judge's previous efforts; however, it offers a steady stream of laughter. For viewers who are willing to look for the subtle moments in the film, "Extract" will remain a poignant and funny look at the desperate inner lives of normal American workers. The film has few dramatic moments. Overall, it is a comical, entertaining film.