Extract Mike Judge

Extract Mike Judge
From King of the Hill through to Office Space, Idiocracy and now Extract, Mike Judge has proven himself the friend of the everyman. Where other comic auteurs (especially in America) play crass and zany for laughs, Judge has always taken the road less travelled: sussing the funny out of the stifling ho-hum of daily life. Who else could make throwaway phrases of the everyday like "PC load letter" or "extreme fajitas" seem somehow intrinsically funny? In Extract, veteran straight-man Jason Bateman takes the lead as Judge's everyman proxy Joel Reynolds, the owner of a flavour-extract company assailed on all sides by the incompetency of his staff and the indifference of his wife (Kristen Wiig). When Joel develops a crush on a femme fatale intern (Mila Kunis), he sets up a ploy to tempt his wife with a dumb-as-nails gigolo (Dustin Milligan) in order to absolve himself from the guilt that would otherwise come with his own extramarital indiscretion. (That the plot is oddly reminiscent this year's Atom Egoyan outing, Chloe, makes both films seem somehow funnier.) Bateman plays the tormented middle-class cuckold with ease, his boyish face able to reflect all the insanity circling around him. And with solid performances by reliable funny men J.K. Simmons and David Koechner (and a nice comedic turn by Ben Affleck, who should have remained a character actor), Extract offers enough to laugh at. But the plot sags, the seams of its three-act structure all too apparent. On the DVD's only bonus feature, a ten-minute documentary called "Mike Judge's Secret Recipe," many of the film's actors praise Judge's ability to make comedy seem nuanced and real. They have a point. But ultimately Judge's ability to capture the quirks of the working and middle classes is undone by his inability to sustain a 92-minute feature. Maybe he's spent too much time in TV to be able to see stories in more than half-hour segments. And it's a shame. Because when Judge hits the mark, he's really, really funny, I tell you whut. (Maple)