Mike Judge has made some really great contributions to the pop culture landscape over the last decade and a half or so. Beavis & Butt-head and King of the Hill are two of the finest animated creations ever to grace television. Office Space remains every bit as relatable, not to mention hilarious, as it was when first released in 1999.
Lately he hasn't seemed able to match those earlier triumphs. Idiocracy (2006) was a nearly unwatchable disaster, understandably released directly to DVD. His latest offering, Extract, is a very minor improvement but ultimately a colossal bore devoid of any particularly good ideas.
Jason Bateman plays Joel, an entrepreneur who developed a way to ensure that the flavor of food extracts doesn't evaporate during cooking. He runs a successful factory that produces a variety of these extracts, which consumes nearly all his time. The excitement has vanished from his marriage, with his wife Suzie (Kristen Wiig) seemingly disinterested in maintaining a physical relationship. All Joel wants to do is sell his business for a nice fat profit and retire relatively young.
The plot never gels into anything meaningful. Joel is determined to discover if Suzie has become frigid or if she simply isn't interested in him. He hires a gigolo who, posing as the new pool cleaner, tries to seduce Suzie. Joel sits back and waits for the results, soon regretting his actions. His stoner friend Dean (Ben Affleck) came up with the whole scheme. Once Suzie takes the bait, the whole plan doesn't seem to improve Joel's state of mind.
Meanwhile, a young con artist named Cindy (Mila Kunis) gets hired on at the extract plant in an attempt to capitalize on a recent workplace accident. One of Joel's employees had a particularly serious accident while on the job. Cindy wants to develop a relationship with him so she can take a chunk of his settlement, even though the employee isn't planning initially to sue the company.
Watching Extract I kept asking myself the same question: why should I care about any of these dull characters? The movie takes these two plot lines and clumsily forces them together. Nothing funny happens throughout. None of the characters ever inspire the slightest bit of sympathy. The blame falls squarely on Judge, whose script is a mess. He wastes a good cast, especially Kristen Wiig. Wiig has emerged as a great comic actress on SNL, but the part of Suzie doesn't take advantage of her skills. This part could have been filled by any anonymous actress.
Extract on Blu-ray is not an especially exciting audio/visual experience. The 1080p high definition presentation is more than adequate without being noteworthy in any way. The 5.1 DTS-HD audio is much the same in that it serves its purpose, leaving nothing to complain about. Dialogue is intelligible and crisp, never overpowered by music or effects. In addition there is a French Dolby Digital track. Subtitles are available in English, French, and Spanish.
As for supplements, this is hardly going to please Mike Judge fans, but there aren't many. A handful of deleted and extended scenes are the main attraction. When I finish a movie that feels like a waste of time, usually the last thing I want to do is watch what didn't make the final cut. Occasionally it can be revelatory, but that isn't the case here. "Mike Judge's Secret Recipe" is a short featurette that offers a very fluffy look at the making of the film.
As much potential as it displayed, Extract is a waste of time and talent. Hopefully Mike Judge will soon pull out of this slump because movies like this are practically an insult to the audience.