Mike Judge has written and directed a new comedy! Ain’t that good news? Mike Judge is the guy who created Beavis & Butthead and King Of The Hill for television, and wrote and directed the movies Office Space and Idiocracy. That is a pretty solid track record for quality and durability and genuine hilarity. Mike Judge has a rare talent for pinpointing the insanity and the idiocy that exist in the most mundane aspects of life. Look, even if all he ever did was Office Space, wouldn’t that be enough for you to rush out and give his new movie a try? I do love Office Space, but not even as much as most other people do – however, if what happened to Judge’s next movie, the almost-as-good Idiocracy, is any indication, not enough people are willing to give Mike Judge a happy opening weekend. Let’s rectify our past mistakes, America – let’s throw down our ten bucks, and in return, let’s allow Mike Judge to make us laugh.
This is a personal guarantee, because I have already seen Extract – and it’s hilarious. It’s a grower. I like it more the more I think about it. In fact, I think I could watch it again right now. It’s not a simple plot to describe, because the movie does meander quite a bit – as life so often does when it’s not going right. That’s what Extract is about: the best laid plans going astray. The plot is almost secondary, honestly. If I told you that Extract is about what happens when a gorgeous criminal drifter (Mila Kunis) and a frustrated vanilla-extract business owner (Jason Bateman) cross paths, I would understand if you didn’t see comedy gold leap off the page. That’s where you trust in Judge (and in his terrific actors.) That’s where the trust is rewarded.
After his straight-man role on Arrested Development and his blatant scene-stealing in Smokin’ Aces and State Of Play, it’s so great to see Jason Bateman in a starring role. Bateman is such a precise and intelligent comic actor – he’s like a ninja surgeon with his dialogue. He grounds this eccentric movie with huge likability and expert deadpan.
Mila Kunis is also solid in the movie. I’m not sure at what point the girl from That 70s Show turned into such a knockout, but she did, and she’s just perfect in the role of that chick who makes every guy feel like he has a chance, when of course she’s holding all the cards. I just love the idea of free-ranging criminal hot chicks – who better to wreak an unpunished crime wave across the country?
Kristen Wiig, from SNL, plays Bateman’s adulterous wife. For most of the movie, Wiig seems to be comparatively underutilized, until she takes over with a sudden uppercut of comedic surprise in the penultimate scene. She’ll make you totally want to see a Kristen Wiig starring role, and for my money she’s even more crush-worthy than Mila Kunis in this movie.
Ben Affleck plays Bateman’s sleazy bartender buddy Dean, who is well-meaning but completely destructive. Affleck is so damn funny in this movie – I know he has his haters, but I’ve never been one, quite the contrary, and even if I were, I’d have been converted with this movie. His character gets most of the best lines, and I’m moving on now because the temptation to quote some of them is too strong.
David Koechner, oh my God. The guy you know best from Anchorman arguably steals the movie as the most quintessentially Mike Judge character in the whole thing. He’s so real and recognizable, even as he’s entirely over the top – you have to see it for yourself.
There are several other fantastic ringers in Extract, like J.K. Simmons as Bateman’s happily oblivious second-in-command, Matt Schulze as that threatening kind of pothead (I’ve met the type – scary!), and Clifton Collins Jr. as the unlikely heart of the movie, but I wouldn’t know where to stop. Every role is played to perfection. Mike Judge really knows how to populate a movie.
Oh yeah, and Gene Simmons is brilliant in the movie. That’s right, Gene Simmons of KISS. In the best piece of casting I have seen in a very long time, Gene plays a scumbag lawyer. He’s only got a couple of scenes, but you will absolutely remember them.