Extract squeezes out familiar laughs

, the newest film written and directed by Mike Judge, begins in a small flavored extract factory owned by a man named Joel. It is the perfect setting to satirize Joel and his rag-tag gang of employees. But, much as in Mike Judge’s earlier , the entire film centers on the personal life of one man. The setting is completely irrelevant. It could have been anywhere. It is merely a physical location that adds another source of stress for Joel.

Joel is a man whose life is under perpetual stress. From the moment he wakes up to the nights he spends at the bar, Joel is constantly abused by life’s annoyances. His factory is filled with idiots, his home is plagued with the world’s most pestering neighbor, and his wife promptly denies any “tender access” past eight at night. Joel trudges through, hoping his ship will come in.

Of course, as soon as the sale of his factory is almost assured, an on-site accident involving an employee’s lower appendage brings an even greater degree of chaos to bear. The pending lawsuit postpones the sale, the nearly handicapped man set to gain a million dollar settlement attracts a money-seeking vixen named Cindy to the factory and this fair creature brings unrighteous thoughts to poor Joel’s head. In pursuit of Cindy, Joel does nothing but horribly complicates his life further.

With compliments to Extract, I find myself captivated by the litany and talent of film-industry stars in this movie. Jason Bateman fills the shoes of Joel well, making a relatable icon of the frustrated everyman. The rest of the cast also sports an unusually high amount of talent for a Mike Judge film. Mila Kunis as Cindy steals the show with comedic moments paired with feminine wiles. J. K. Simmons and Ben Affleck do well as “buddy” characters to Joel. Simmons builds a serious rapport with Bateman as the gruff company manager Brian, whereas Affleck takes a humorous route as the amiable, drug-addled bartender Dean. Kristen Wiig holds a major role and completes an expectantly effective performance as Joel’s wife. The rest of the cast includes David Koechner, Beth Grant, Gene Simmons, Dustin Milligan and Clifton Collins Jr.

Following the protagonist around is something that Mike Judge does well. I was hoping for a bit more in this movie. The picture easily flowed with some exceedingly funny moments and presented a humorous atmosphere that contained no poison of forced phony gags. Judge precisely controlled the camera to represent the scenes in the best angles.

Judge directed every aspect of his film as expertly as always, capturing the audience’s attention as they watched Joel’s life slowly circle the drain. In fact I felt like I have seen this identical tale before, that the factory was too similar to the cubicles of or the future society of morons in to be considered original.

How many times will Mike Judge write a story about a man confounded by the life around him, thrust into a worse situation, just to work his way out into a better position and end it with a final scene that this one guy’s life might just be on the up-and-up from now on? I have seen it three times, and time has not sweetened it.

It’s not that this is a bad movie. No, the comedy is genuine and plentiful, the acting is great with a large selection of strong performers and Judge knows how to craft this story and lead his audience. I only wish that perhaps next time a Mike Judge film comes to theaters it will not follow the same storyline as his past films.

I can only recommend this film to those that greatly loved or have not yet had their fill of previous Mike Judge films, for I am sure they will enjoy this laugh riot.