- PURE VANILLA: 'Extract.'
Last year I wrote an open letter to Mike Myers about “The Love Guru,” telling him that he essentially made a half-assed copy of a Mike Myers movie, gave him some slack for perhaps being a bit rusty, and making some suggestions for how he could avoid such a disaster in the future.
I admit I'm a bit surprised now to say exactly the same thing to Mike Judge. You likely know him as the creator of generational icons like “Office Space” and “King of the Hill.” But against all sense, Judge has given us “Extract.”
“Extract” plays a bit like “Office Space II: The Spacening.” This time we're in a small privately-owned company that makes cooking extracts, founded and run by Joel (Jason Bateman). Joel is depressed and sexually frustrated. His wife is distant, his employees whiny and bordering on incompetent. He really wants to sell his business and find happiness away from it all.
If you know Mike Judge, you know this set-up very well, only this time our hero will find his refuge in attempted infidelity. Joel hires a beautiful young woman (Mila Kunis) as a temp at his factory, and toys with the idea of having an affair with her. He needs to feel morally justified in cheating, so he hires a gigolo to seduce his wife. He figures that if she sleeps with him, great, he can do as he pleases. If not, well, at least he knows his wife still cares.
There are problems, of course. Like the fact that his wife starts an ongoing affair with the gigolo, who has fallen in love with her. Like the fact that he actually does care that she's cheating. Like the fact that his intended lover is a con artist trying to bilk the company of all the money she possibly can.
A mildly promising retread of “Office Space” on paper, I suppose, but not much of one, and the execution is pancake-thin. The characters are not at all sympathetic or engaging, the comic relief neither comic-y nor relief-y, the twists and turns not really ... well, you get it.
As with “The Love Guru” to the rest of Myers' body of work, so stands “Extract” in the Mike Judge canon: paint-by-numbers. Never more than amusing, never a ride, not even a satisfying end, realistic or otherwise. It's not even a bad movie — that I could at least get behind. No, it's just boring, packed with underused talent wading through a vanilla pond of a script.
So sit this one out and we'll try again next time. Everybody's due a slump, I guess, and I can't imagine that Judge doesn't have more to give.