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"Extract"

Directed by Mike Judge.
Written by Mike Judge.
Starring Jason Bateman, Mila Kunis, Kristen Wiig and Ben Affleck.
Release Year:  2009
Review Date:  9/5/09

Folks--

Let me give it to you straight--Mike Judge, overall, is really for a very slim subset of comedic arts fans.  Looking over his body of work, "Office Space" is a classic but it wasn't a classic until it was out a couple of years on DVD...and, the rest of his work is for the kind of guy (yes, only guys) who liked "King of the Hill", "Beavis and Butthead" and "Idiocracy."  The mainstream thinks that two of those three products were average-to-poor overall; the third, "Beavis and Butthead", was never more than a cult phenomenon anyway.  (Even at the height of it, most people thought that "B&B" was a one-trick pony tied to the leads' silly laughs.)

If you go see "Extract", you really have to be a Judge fan...probably, a fanatic.  Two critics, quoted in the "Extract" ad campaign, have been quoted as saying "Extract" is "the funniest movie of the year" or "the best comedy of the year."  To consider how truly insane that is, you have to see "Extract" after seeing any of the following--"Brüno", "The Hangover" or a film like "Paul Blart: Mall Cop", which is generally considered unfunny.

Is "Extract" better than "Paul Blart: Mall Cop"??  Possibly.  On some levels, it can't really compare because "Extract" is clearly (and ratings-wise) for adults, and it has talent that you've probably seen before, whereas "Blart" only really has Kevin James.  I chuckled during both of these films, and there is one scene that made me laugh-laugh during "Extract", when our lead, Joel (Jason Bateman) is at a guy's house doing bong hits for the first time in many years.  Otherwise, it's not very funny.

The insanity in calling "Extract" the best at anything in 2009 really hits you when you've seen both "Extract" and, say, "Brüno" or "The Hangover."  Whether you liked "Brüno" or not, generally the movie is considered to have more belly laughs than essentially any other mainstream film this year...making it a funnier movie than "Extract", purely on the highs-and-lows scale.  But, with "The Hangover", you have a movie that has better characters, a better script, more laughs and nearly $300 million in box office this year, making it a top five film in gross revenues.  When you watch "Extract", here's what you WON'T see:

  • Good characters.  All of the characters in "Extract" are terrible; however, Brad (the gigolo played by Dustin Milligan) will probably make you giggle and Dean (Ben Affleck) might get you at some point, mainly for the bad haircut that Affleck is wearing throughout the movie.

  • Good casting.  Maybe worse than the characters, the casting of "Extract" made me shake my head for hours after I saw the film.  Kristen Wiig plays the wife of the Bateman character; her specialty is playing whacked-out bit players, like the ones she's played in "Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story", "Knocked Up", "Forgetting Sarah Marshall" or anything on "Saturday Night Live."  What does she play in "Extract"?  A bored housewife.  J.K. Simmons is wasted, the great Clifton Collins, Jr. is wasted, Bateman isn't that funny, David Koechner (from "Anchorman") is wasted...strangely, the best casting here might be KISS frontman Gene Simmons as a dirty ambulance chaser.

  • The kind of movie that reminds you of "Office Space."  Maybe, looking back now, Judge got lucky with the now-ten-years-old classic comedy, but scenes like the office equipment beatdown in the open field, or socially-wise genius like a white guy singing along to hip-hop afraid to be faced with a black homeless guy while driving to work, are nowhere to be found in "Extract."

Very, very disappointing.  Hopefully you are reading this before making the decision to go see this movie...avoid this in theaters, and roll the dice if you're a Judge fan when the movie comes to DVD.

Rating:  Rental

 

Comments?  Drop me a line at justin@bellviewmovies.com.

 

Bellview Rating System:

"Opening Weekend":  This is the highest rating a movie can receive.  Reserved for movies that exhibit the highest level of acting, plot, character development, setting...or Salma Hayek.  Not necessarily in that order. 

"$X.XX Show":  This price changes each year due to the inflation of movie prices; currently, it is the $9.50 Show.  While not technically perfect, this is a movie that will still entertain you at a very high level.  "Undercover Brother" falls into this category; it's no "Casablanca", but you'll have a great time watching.  The $9.50 Show won't win any Oscars, but you'll be quoting lines from the thing for ages (see "Office Space"). 

"Matinee":  An average movie that merits no more than a $6.50 viewing at your local theater.  Seeing it for less than $9.50 will make you feel a lot better about yourself.  A movie like "Blue Crush" fits this category; you leave the theater saying "That wasn't too bad...man, did you see that Lakers game last night?" 

"Rental":  This rating indicates a movie that you see in the previews and say to your friend, "I'll be sure to miss that one."  Mostly forgettable, you couldn't lose too much by going to Hollywood Video and paying $3 to watch it with your sig other, but you would only do that if the video store was out of copies of "Ronin."  If you can, see this movie for free.  This is what your TV Guide would give "one and a half stars." 

"Hard Vice":  This rating is the bottom of the barrel.  A movie that only six other human beings have witnessed, this is the worst movie I have ever seen.  A Shannon Tweed "thriller," it is so bad as to be funny during almost every one of its 84 minutes, and includes the worst ending ever put into a movie.  Marginally worse than "Cabin Boy", "The Avengers" or "Leonard, Part 6", this rating means that you should avoid this movie at all costs, or no costs, EVEN IF YOU CAN SEE IT FOR FREE!  (Warning:  strong profanity will be used in all reviews of "Hard Vice"-rated movies.)

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The "fine print":
All material by Justin Elliot Bell for SMR/Bellview/bellviewmovies.com except where noted
© 1999-2009 Justin Elliot Bell This site was last updated 09/08/09