By Sandra Kraisirideja
Ten years ago Mike Judge wrote and directed a little movie called “Office Space,” which was mostly ignored in the theaters but then exploded in popularity on DVD.
Judge’s latest movie, “Extract” features Jason Bateman as the owner of a small manufacturing company and the day-to-day interactions he has with the employees who work there. Given the movie’s setting, Miramax Films is promoting Judge’s “Office Space” legacy heavily.
However, “Office Space” fans should be warned: “Extract” is a pretty good comedy on its own merits, but it would be unfair to compare it to “Office Space.”
Bateman plays Joel, a nice guy and successful business owner who is having difficulty coping with his non-existent sex life at home.
Ben Affleck, decked out in long hair and beard, plays Dean, a bartender, drug connoisseur and advisor to Joel. The scenes between Bateman and Affleck are the highlights of the movie and Judge’s dialogue is strongest when they interact.
Dustin Milligan, who was recently part of the updated “90210” cast, is very convincing as Brad, a dimwitted gigolo who Joel hires to sleep with his wife, played by Kristen Wiig. Mila Kunis, a con artist and petty thief who captures Joel’s eye, is the movie’s other female lead.
“Extract” benefits from a strong comedic performance by Bateman, who is navigating his comeback career quite well. Judge understands how to write male characters, but he still needs work writing for women. Unfortunately, the females in “Extract” don’t get to do very much in the movie and their dialogue doesn’t have the same spark as it does for their male counterparts. Kunis only gets to look sexy, not that male audiences will complain.
There’s also a problem with the story, which doesn’t have a central focus. The plot meanders and its structure is closer to a sitcom than a narrative film. A freak accident sets the plot in motion, but then other factors come into play creating several storylines happening at once.
“Extract” offers some funny lines and memorable supporting characters—especially David Koechner as a clingy next door neighbor—but it would have been better if the story was more focused.
Photo: Ben Affleck as Dean and Jason Bateman as Joel in “Extract.” Credit: Miramax Film Corp/Sam Urdank