Written by Caballero Oscuro
Writer/director Mike Judge has managed to forge a cottage industry of small, quirky live action comedies that never really make much noise at the box office but develop a fan base of home viewers large enough to let him keep doing his thing. Following his established pattern, Extract was mostly DOA at the U.S. box office, so its new home video release is its first real chance for some substantial exposure. On paper, it has a couple of pluses going for it: the ace casting of Jason Bateman in its lead role and Judge's return to workplace humor following up his cult classic Office Space.
Bateman plays a conservative husband and small business owner named Joel on the verge of realizing a major payday via the sale of his flavor extract company. Unfortunately, a freak workplace accident grants one of his key employees the legal grounds to destroy his plans and possibly his company. The employee is loyal to the company, but also really dim, so when a sexy swindler (Mila Kunis) breezes into town and figures out the financial possibilities of a lawsuit, he's more than willing to join her plan.
Meanwhile, Joel is stuck in a passionless marriage at home and stuck with relationship advice from his stoner bartender/best friend (Ben Affleck), leading him to accept his friend's harebrained idea to test his wife's fidelity via the hiring of an idiotic gigolo (Dustin Milligan). Predictably, the results are not what Joel might have hoped, especially when the gigolo continues to visit his wife and decides he's in love with her.
With so much drama at work and home, Joel is forced out of his conservative comfort zone and finds himself drawn to the unbridled freedom represented by Kunis's character. He's forced to question what he really wants in his future and choose the path that will get him there. There's not much question of how it will all shake out, but it's an enjoyable ride that plays to Judge's strengths at concurrently skewering and celebrating small-town Americana.
Bateman's performance is up to snuff, but his character is so straight-laced that he's not allowed to color outside the lines, limiting his potential here. Conversely, Affleck is granted a vivid, gonzo character and gets some decent comedic mileage out of it, but never fully embraces it and ultimately seems too conservative for it. It is refreshing to see him tackling a role in a project of this scope though as it recalls his winning early work in Kevin Smith's films. Kunis's character is a bit of an enigma, as we never really learn her motivations or forces that shaped her, but she's suitably appealing as the film's primary object of affection. Surprisingly, Dustin Milligan is really funny as the dopey gigolo, showing some range not even hinted at in his day job on 90210. Kristen Wiig also pops in as Joel's wife, but her role is so inconsequential and one-dimensional that she's largely wasted in the film.
Judge's film quality isn't such that much benefit is realized by Blu-ray, with fairly flat images and non-dynamic sound, but for what it's worth, the video is given a MPEG-4 AVC/1080p transfer with an aspect ratio of 1.85:1 and the audio track is delivered in full 5.1 DTS-HD MA. Where the Blu-ray does make a difference is the bonus features, as the package includes exclusive deleted and extended scenes. The scenes were fully deserving of ending up on the cutting room floor, but they do offer added insight into the production process. There's also a non-exclusive featurette on Judge's recipe for making a classic Mike Judge film, basically a chance for his acolytes to talk about how awesome he is, but it also includes some interesting info about the film's production such as the revelation that they filmed in a working factory that was still manufacturing its primary product lines in the background during some of the scenes.
Extract is now available on Blu-ray and DVD.