out of Five
Running time: 92
Character-driven rather than plot-driven, Mike Judge's latest comedy is never exactly laugh-out-loud funny but it's very enjoyable nonetheless, thanks to strong comic performances and a drily witty script.
What's it all about?
Written and directed by Mike Judge (Office Space, Idiocracy), Extract stars Jason Bateman as Joel, the owner of a flavouring extracts company that he's built from the ground up. However, when an accident at work nearly castrates one of his employees (Clifton Collins Jr as Step), Joel finds himself the victim of a potentially crippling insurance claim and comes under pressure to sell the company to a major conglomerate, much to the concern of his manager Brian (JK Simmons) and the rest of the workers.
However, unbeknownst to Joel, sexy new employee Cindy (Mila Kunis) is actually a con artist who's working on Step to take the company for everything they can get. And as if that wasn't bad enough, Joel suspects his wife Suzie (Kristen Wiig) is being unfaithful, so, on the advice of his laid back barman friend Dean (Ben Affleck), he hires dim-witted gigolo Brad (Dustin Milligan) to pose as a pool boy and seduce her to test her fidelity.
Bateman is superb as Joel, playing him as not a million miles away from his character on Arrested Development, in that he's unfailingly polite at all times and doesn't seem to get all that worked up, even when things are going horribly, horribly wrong; as a result, his low-key reactions pay surprisingly effective comic dividends. There's also strong support from Mila Kunis (vamping it up slightly more than strictly necessary) and Ben Affleck (who's always much better in supporting parts than as a leading man), while Dustin Milligan gets the film's biggest laughs as the impossibly stupid Brad and Gene Simmons (yes, that Gene Simmons) is very amusing as Step's money-grabbing personal injury lawyer.
The dialogue and character comedy is strong throughout but the plot seems unfocussed and underwritten. For example, Kristen Wiig is sorely underused and her infidelity sub-plot unfolds almost as an afterthought and lacks the emotional impact it should have had.
Extract is an enjoyable comedy thanks to its witty dialogue and likeable characters but it's hard to escape the impression that it could have been a lot better with a tighter script.