Extract

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Posted September 3, 2009 in Film

Jason Bateman can’t believe his luck when the new temp at his vanilla, cherry and root beer extract factory, Mila Kunis, sashays into his office and says she has an interest in food flavorings. Problem is she’s a criminal drifter, but his mind’s so scrambled by wife Kristen Wiig’s disinterest in sex (unless it’s with the pool boy) and best friend Ben Affleck’s efforts to distract him with ketamine and bong hits and beer that he doesn’t realize that she’s a force destructive enough to take down his entire company. Writer-director Mike Judge’s latest effort to capture the je ne sais quaff of the working man, his vices and his daily agonies is as solid as the two great entries in his canon: Office Space and Idiocracy. Which means no one will admit they liked it for a year, and then, magically, copies will appear on every friend’s DVD shelf. In a slight tweak from his formula, here Judge isn’t focusing on the oppressed white collar or a culture of morons, but a smart, practical boss man who is so disgruntled by his home life that he never quite realizes he’s a symbol of wealth and success for the grunts on the factory floor (excellent comedians and character actors like Beth Grant, Clifton Collins Jr. and T.J. Miller) who don’t dream higher than being floor manager—or of working in a place that doesn’t hire Mexicans. That Bateman’s employees don’t have better options is one of Judge’s running droll jokes; when they threaten to strike if he accepts a buyout from General Mills, Bateman flatly asks them where else they’d rather work—the answer’s so plain, he doesn’t even have to twist the knife. Part of Bateman reclaiming his life is realizing that he’s lucky to be on top of his own company, even if very few people give a damn about flavorings besides second-in-command J.K. Simmons (my favorite actor this year). Extract is consistently, quietly funny and, like everything Judge does, a little morally perverse under the surface, as Bateman learns that one of the keys to happiness is an attitude of “Let them eat cherry-flavored cake.”

 


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