Judge Eric Profancik wonders if all this would have gone better with a dash of vanilla.
100% Pure Comedy
Boldly emblazoned at the top of the packaging it states that Extract comes from Mike Judge, the man who gave us Office Space. Whether that's meant as a plea or a reminder could be debated. In either case, with Mike returning to the workforce, will his spin on blue collar life be as great as his musings on white collar life?
Facts of the Case
Joel Reynolds (Jason Bateman, Arrested Development) owns and runs Reynolds Extracts, a small company that produces flavor extracts for cooking. One day there's a terrible accident in the factory, and Step (Clifton Collins Jr., Star Trek (2009)) ends up losing a testicle. Despite his loss, he has no intention of suing the company; he's content with the insurance settlement. That all changes when a con artist, Cindy (Mila Kunis, That '70s Show), decides to intervene. She weasels her way into Step's life and encourages him to file suit against the company. For Joel, that isn't even the worst of his problems. In addition to the lawsuit, he's also overwhelmed by a cheating wife and his own urges to consummate the flirtation from Cindy. Can Joel find a way to get his life back in order?
In a nutshell, Extract is not pure comedy, not especially funny, and another bust from Mike Judge. He doesn't exactly have the best track record, but we keep hoping for the best from him. Why doesn't Extract work? Why is the humor nonexistent? It stems from the lack of relatable characters in situations that are funny.
This movie is populated with people you can't relate to, and, worse, you don't even like them. Let's start with Joel. At times you might sympathize with him, but then you see what he does to his wife and know that behavior isn't quite so appealing. Maybe we can relate to his sexual frustration with the sweat-panted missus, but that's about all the commonality between us. How about his right hand man, Brian (J.K. Simmons, Spider-man)? You can't like a man who can't be bothered to learn his employees' names, and that's his predominant feature in the movie. What about Cindy? There's nothing to like about her: constantly stealing, manipulating, and taking advantage of every situation. What about Dean (Ben Affleck, Daredevil), Joel's best friend? He's just a stoned-out idiot who gets his friend into worse situations. Should we look at the factory floor for help? Maybe the two racist women? Maybe the idiot forklift driver? Extract is overflowing with people you just don't like, and if you're supposed to root for somebody, who is there to choose from? Top all that off with the ridiculous super bong, cheating pool boys, annoying neighbors (OK, we can relate to that one), con artists, and crazy lawyers, and this work of blue collar comedy offers no situations for us to see ourselves in.
Yet with all that rationalization spelled out, only one thing matters: it's not funny. If the story makes you laugh, who cares so much about characters and relating to them? Extract isn't funny, and it tanked.
Do we have an opportunity to say something positive about the disc? No, we don't. This Blu-ray from Miramax is incredibly lackluster. Video is a 1.85:1, 1080p, transfer that is positively average, for a DVD. What you'll notice first is the heavy grain, and once your eye gets past that it'll register accurate yet bland colors, blacks without depth, spotty details, and an overall bland appearance. Some scenes have some decent depth and dimensionality, yet the majority of the film is just lifeless. That's even more accurate for the DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 mix. This front-heavy mix is dead. Outside of dialogue from the front there is nothing from the LFE or the surrounds. It's practically a 2.0 mix. No attempt was made to create a dynamic mix. How could all those scenes in the factory be so flat? And for all those scenes in the bar, there's no music or life. What a disappointing set of transfers.
Then you get to the special features and the disappointment creates a perfect trifecta. Speaking of three, you'll find that's how many bonus items that are included. First up is a decent featurette that covers the general making-of/behind-the-scenes aspects of Extract. It's called "Mike Judge's Secret Recipe" (10:48) and though it's a touch too self-appreciative, it does its job well. Next up are five lame extended scenes (4:29), all of which feature Ben Affleck. Lastly is a deleted scene (0:49) that too features Ben and is an absolute waste of forty seconds. No commentary? Nothing else? I should consider myself lucky.
The Rebuttal Witnesses
"If you like Office Space, you'll really love Extract!" At least that's what fellow critic Bryan Erdy at CBS TV has to say. (Don't believe him.)
In all truth, exactly one thing is funny in this movie and it's Joel's annoying neighbor Nathan (David Koechner, Hank). He makes the most of his infuriating role and gives us the only humorous moments in the film.
Extract is not a funny movie. Add to that a bland video transfer, a dead audio mix, and bonus materials lacking the bonus, and you have a Blu-ray that deserves a big boo. Do yourself a favor, don't buy or rent this movie. Nothing about it is horrible; it's just not going to be worth your time.
Extract is hereby found guilty of being extremely sour.
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