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EXTRACT (director/writer: Mike Judge; cinematographer: Tim Suhrstedt; editor: Julia Wong; music: George S. Clinton; cast: Jason Bateman (Joel Reynold), Mila Kunis (Cindy), Kristen Wiig (Suzie), J. K. Simmons (Brian), David Koechner (Nathan), Clifton Collins Jr. (Step), Gene Simmons (Joe Adler), Dustin Milligan (Brad), Factory Worker (Javier Gutierrez), Ben Affleck (Dean), T.J. Miller (Rory), Beth Grant (Mary), Matt Schulze (Willie); Runtime: 90; MPAA Rating: R; producers: Michael Rotenberg/John Altschuler; Miramax Films; 2009)
“Tastes good until it eventually loses its flavoring.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

Mike Judge (“Office Space”/“Beavis and Butt-Head”/“King of the Hill”/“Idiocracy”) is the writer-director of this juicy superficial comedy that tastes good until it eventually loses its flavoring over a horse tranquilizer episode. The film is set around a bottling plant (a water-bottling plant in California’s City of Commerce) owned by nice guy Joel (Jason Bateman). The affable factory owner of a plant that extracts flavors to make drinks seems to have everything cornered in the American Dream: plenty of dough, a pretty wife named Suzie (Kristen Wiig), a luxurious home with a pool and the affection of his workers. But he lacks good friends and mistakenly pals around with wise guy doper bartender Dean (Ben Affleck), who he whines to about not getting laid for the last three months. Dean gets him drugged and talks him into hiring a pretty boy moronic teenaged gigolo landscaper (Dustin Milligan) to screw his wife and in this way Joel would not feel guilty cheating on his wife with his pretty newest assembly line factory worker Cindy (Mila Kunis). Joel is unaware that Cindy is a con artist drifter who only took the job to get in tight with assembly line redneck worker Step (Clifton Collins Jr.), who lost a testicle in a factory accident. Her aim is to get him to sue the company and she in the meantime courts the affable but dimwitted Step with the intention of ripping him off once he collects.

Gene Simmons, a member of Kiss, plays a sleazy loudmouth attorney who is hired by Cindy to get everything he could from the workplace accident, even if it means bankrupting them.

There’s also more low-brow comedy mined out of the extract plant’s supervisor (J.K. Simmons) refusal to remember his workers’ name and calling them all by the same jerky name, and from assembly line worker Mary (Beth Grant) who calls everyone else lazy but doesn’t recognize her own laziness.

Things snowball out of control, as the “everyman” factory owner is about to lose his beloved extract factory, his lovely wife and, possibly, his mind unless he resolves this law suit. The decent chap is also bothered by a pesty neighbor (David Koechner) who won’t leave him alone and the lazy and stupid factory workers who cause unnecessary trouble on the job, including the bizarre accident that resulted in the law suit. In this satire, it’s not management that gets trashed the most but the dense workers. Judge seems intent on giving a thumb’s up to small business ventures as the good side of capitalism, because the workers can call their boss by their first names. The Yiddish film Uncle Moses (1932) did a better job of showing the strained relationship between a decent rich owner and workers stuck in minimal paying jobs, who can count on the owner taking care of them when things go bad.


Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”