Extract (2009)

<strong class="MovieTitle">Extract</strong> (2009)

(In theatres, September 2009) This risqué yet generally amiable comedy by Mike Judge has little of the cubicle universality of Office Space of the striking conceptual strength of Idiocy.  That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but it does limit its appeal and give it little memetic traction.  In less pretentious terms, Extract is easily forgettable even if it’s not unpleasant to watch.  A good chunk of this appeal rests on the shoulders of the capable cast headlining the ensemble comedy.  The lead character of the piece, a harried chemist turned businessman now hitting a mid-life crisis pretty hard, wouldn’t be half as sympathetic if he wasn’t played with the good-boy charm of Jason Bateman.  Gene Simmons pops up as an intense ambulance-chasing lawyer, whereas J.K. Simmons is a bit wasted as a voice of reason in the middle of so much low-key craziness.  Extract’s plot scatters in multiple directions, with a number of small twists when characters don’t behave as they usually do in other comedies.  If the actual execution of the plot is hit-and-miss, Judge’s portrait of American working-class banality is just off-the-wall enough to keep viewers interested.  Time will tell if the film ends up producing as many catchphrases as the writer/director’s previous efforts, but a first glance suggests that this won’t be the case.  On the other hand, Extract does manage to hits its own targets consistently, and if a little more ambition (or class awareness) wouldn’t have hurt, at least there’s something to be said for decent entertainment.

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