The Factory Made Funny

Extract ***

Extract, the newest comedy from writer and director Mike Judge, is satisfyingly funny and entertaining but not as overly uproarious as previously expected. It is, however, the perfect cinematic choice for lovers of Office Space, the 1999 cult classic that was written and directed by Judge as well. Like Office Space, the dry humor is just as effective in this comedy about a dissatisfied white-collar worker who is entering a miniature midlife crisis when it comes to his work and home life. Although the similarities between the two films are prominent, the plot lines are different and the problems are just as resonant. The sequence of events within Extract and the progression of the film are extremely entertaining because they are both senseless and absurd, but also believable.
Jason Bateman, from the cult-phenomenon Arrested Development, is pitch-perfect as protagonist Joel Reynolds in this melancholy suburban-based comedy. Bateman plays a small business owner (his business is food extracts, hence the title) balancing the small-time trials and tribulations of his employees with the more significant problems of a failing marriage and a company lawsuit. As well as a strong leading actor, Extract is not lacking in cameos. Gene Simmons, the front man of the make-up wearing, arena rock band KISS, plays the money hungry lawyer opposing Bateman’s company.
In a supporting role, Ben Affleck was surprisingly funny as Dean, Bateman’s scruffy, bartending comrade who has big ideas about drugs and adultery. Affleck’s role is refreshingly different here compared with his normal “pretty boy” roles and those calling for an attractive love interest. He is actually able to separate himself from his normal image in appearance and character.

Unfortunately Kristen Wiig, easily the most entertaining entity on Saturday Night Live, fell flat in this film. Although she is able to evoke small laughs, Wiig, playing Bateman’s wife Suzie, does not live up to her potential or even audience expectations. This however, was

not due to her own merit but instead the weakness of the role presented. Had Wiig been dealt a different hand in terms of the film, she could have easily been hilarious as a disgruntled factory worker or other character.
David Koechner, playing Bateman’s hilariously creepy neighbor, is given the opportunity to showcase the broadness of his comedic abilities through this excessively pathetic character, which he plays perfectly. Lastly, Mila Kunis, of That 70s Show, plays Cindy, a con artist who works as a catalyst within the film, affecting the decisions of many of the characters with not much more than a smile and a little influence.
The ensemble cast’s ability to mesh together so perfectly definitely adds an element of cohesion to the film, tying together storylines and characters seamlessly. Certainly, Mike Judge’s reputation for being able to accurately portray the workingman’s burden has not been blemished by his most recent film. Rather, Extract carries on the legacy of making the lives of people who hate their jobs seem funnier than reality.