When writer/director Mike Judge release the modest little comedy “Office Space” back in 1999, it only managed a meager $10 million at the boxoffice. Over time, it found an audience on cable and DVD and is now considered a cult classic.
Judge returns to the workplace with “Extract”, which is another modest little comedy that serves as a low-key social commentary about the American working class.
Jason Bateman (“Juno”) leads the cast as Joel, the owner of a plant the makes a food extract. Joel is a workaholic who has reached a sexual impasse with his wife Suzie (Kristen Wiig from TV’s “Saturday Night Live”).
He’d like nothing better than to sell off the plant so that he can spend more time with his wife and try to inject a little fun into his life. A potential deal is threatened by the arrival of a beautiful con woman named Cindy (Mila Kunis from “Forgetting Sarah Marshall”) who takes advantage of a worker who was injured on the job.
Joel’s best friend Dean (Ben Affleck from “State of Play” donning a hippie wig) tries to help Joel out of his doldrums, but all the advice he gives him is bad. The worst suggestion was to test his wife’s faithfulness by hiring a male gigolo (Dustin Milligan from TV’s “90210”) to attempt to seduce her.
Judge, best known as the brains behind animated comedies like “Bevis and Butthead” and “King of the Hill”, has a wry sense of humor and understands the foibles of the middle class.
It’s too bad, however, that he hasn’t figured out how to construct a strong narrative in feature length.
Still, his script is often quite funny and an excellent cast gives the movie a big boost.
Bateman is excellent as the put upon factory owner who is suffering from a mid-life crisis. While the incidents in the plot don’t always ring true, Bateman effectively grounds his character in reality.
Plus, Wiig offers some keenly timed deadpan laughs and Milligan is very funny as the dunderheaded male prostitute.
Notable in small supporting roles are J.K. Simmons (“Post Grad”) as Joel’s right hand man, Clifton Collins, Jr. (“Sunshine Cleaning”) as an injured worker and David Koechner (“The Goods”) as an annoying neighbor.
Even KISS leader Gene Simmons gets in the act as a slimy shyster lawyer who tries to exploit the injured worker’s case.
While it’s unlikely that “Extract” will achieve cult status, it distills a few condensed laughs. (R) Rating: ***
* Avoid at all costs
** Only if you're bored
*** Good movie
**** Well worth your time
***** Be sure to see it