I saw Extract on the same day I saw Gamer, so that means I was 0 for 2. Extract was the better of the two, but still left a bitter taste in my mouth. Hyped as being brought to us by the creators of Office Space, Extract tricked me with the old bait n’ switch. I thought it would be hilarious, especially when I saw Jason Bateman cough out that huge bong rip in the trailer. The movie had its moments, but overall it didn’t amount to much more than a few chuckles.
The setting is an extract factory owned by Bateman’s character Joel, a regular hard-working guy who has all the trappings of the American Dream but is stuck in a dull, sexless marriage. When a scheming new temp with a checkered past named Cindy (Mila Kunis) begins working at the plant, Joel’s eye begins to wander. His stoner buddy Dean (Ben Affleck) encourages him to make the most of this potential new opportunity. Joel’s a good guy, so Dean devises a plan to get his wife Suzie to cheat first, thereby giving Joel a “free pass.” The scheme is pretty funny, but its execution becomes a little silly. Meanwhile, Joel’s attempt to seal the deal with Cindy never quite comes to fruition, at least not the way he intended. Most of the action takes place at the extract plant, which employs an array of funny characters, including a gossiping busy-body and an incompetent rocker. Creator Mike Judge (King of the Hill) is adept at playing the mundane workplace atmosphere for giggles, but the movie loses its way by making Joel such a bland character. He’s a pretty weak guy who behaves inexplicably. When he finds out his wife has cheated on him he’s angry but he never displays the rage, shock, or disbelief her infidelity warrants. I just didn’t get it. The movie’s plot centers on whether or not Joel will sell the plant, but most of the movie deals with the interpersonal relationships between him and his wife, Dean, and his employees at the plant. Mila Kunis is appealing as the object of everyone’s desire, but she behaves almost as inexplicably as Joel. A con-artist, she begins working at the plant to weasel her way into the life of Step, an employee who was injured in a hilarious freak accident on the job and stands to profit handsomely. With dollar signs in her eyes, she “accidentally” bumps into Step at the grocery store and begins her efforts to become his girlfriend and set up a big score through a lawsuit. Step would rather settle amicably out of court, but Cindy encourages him to milk the accident for all it’s worth. The potential lawsuit threatens to derail Joel’s plans to sell the plant, unless he can get to the bottom of Step’s recent change of heart.
Affleck was funny as Joel’s douchebag sidekick, but Extract’s occasional laughs aren’t enough for me to endorse it. It seems like writers think it’s okay to sacrifice plot and good storytelling just because the movie is a comedy. Joel needed more of a backbone, and a lot of his actions didn’t make sense. Not bad for a few laughs, but Extract never quite reaches its full potential. I’d wait for Netflix.