Monday 26 April 2010

Review: Extract

Year: 2009 (U.K. release date)
Director: Mike Judge
Screenplay: Mike Judge
Starring: Jason Bateman, Mila Kunis, Kristen Wiig, JJ Simmonds, David Koechner

Synopsis is here

Some of the reviews I've read, remark the characters of Extract as archetypes or even stereotypes, and to this I do agree. These caricatures are pretty one note, and like a proverbial
Wild E Coyote, they ain't the sharpest scalpels for the surgery. However, Judge's talent is his ability to give these cutouts that uneasy sense of familiarity despite their apparent flatness. In the same way that teenagers (and adults) "got" Beavis and Butthead despite their lack of dimension, Extract gives us dopey gigolos, lazy middle aged racists and druggy bartenders that not only had me nodding in recognition but laughing often.

Be it tv shows or movies Judge's timing and pacing has always been key to getting the most out his jokes. For me it's never been the dialogue that's attracted me to Judges work, but the extra half a beat he'll place on a characters reaction that got a reaction out of me as a viewer. There's also an element of reality Judge manages to extract from those moments and help bring out humor of the air headed views and decisions of the characters on screen. Watch how these people look when they're working things out in their head, the screws are turning as slow as their thinking. It's an amusing watch.

Many film writers are comparing this to Judges cult hit Office Space, however, they shouldn't. While similarities surface between the two, Extract is a film that deals with ignorance within communication. While Office Space is a satire of the daily grind, how it effects us and our escapism fantasies, Extract deals with ignorance within communication. From the early scenes involving Mila Kunis' drifting criminal being drooled over by two young "suitors" to Joel's (Bateman again back in great Micheal Bluth form) constantly frustrating conversations with his next door neighbor Nathan (an hilarious David Koechner).

If they're not listening then they're not talking; as Joel manager of an extract bottling plant can't even talk to his wife (another nicely noted display from Kristen Wiig) about their lack of sex life. Much like the extract he sells, Joel is packed up too tight to actually give himself relief and would rather listen to the drug hazed jabbering of his bartender friend (a delightfully dopey Ben Affleck) than sit and do the simple thing. The lack of communication slowly turns to farce and all because is waiting for their time to speak. In the factory this ignorance leads to smashed bottles, outside the factory, it leads to affairs with fake pool cleaners. I do enjoy the material.

Once again Mike Judge delivers a film that may find its fans on the DVD market and for me deserves more than just one watch. The easy going and light feel is a shell for another sharp look at how misguided we can be as people be it work or at home. Stupid people don't notice there's something wrong until there's a mess on the floor. Extract gives us plenty of mess, both literally and symbolically.