MOVIE REVIEW- Judge rules: New film <i>Extract</i>s laughs


I've wondered why Mike Judge's Office Space has evolved into one of the biggest cult movies of the ‘90s, just below The Shawshank Redemption and The Big Lebowski. Though a Beavis & Butt-head fan, I've never gotten into King of the Hill and didn't see the big deal about Judge's features, Office Space and Idiocracy.

Color me converted. Extract doesn't have the biggest laughs of the year, but it has some of the most surprising. Judge isn't afraid to take his time setting up a joke and letting it build over the course of 90 minutes, creating some sympathetic characters in the meantime.

Jason Bateman stars as Joel Reynold, founder and manager of Reynold's Extract, a tiny food flavoring plant he built from the ground up– not very high, but up. Despite workers who are either disgruntled or don't care enough to be, the plant pretty much runs itself, with the help of second-in-command Brian (J.K. Simmons), who doesn't know the employees' names but calls most of them "Dinkus."

This frees Joel to worry about the lack of sex he's having with his wife Suzie (Kristen Wiig), who puts on her sweatpants– and he's not getting into her sweatpants– if he's not home by eight. He's afraid they're "turning into one of those brother-sister couples."

You wouldn't believe how much mileage is left in the old "annoying neighbor" gag. As played by David Koechner, Nathan is the most annoying neighbor you could imagine– on steroids.

A guy with Joel's problems needs a bartender to confide in, and that happens to be the profession of his best friend Dean (Ben Affleck, looking shaggy). Dean has a solution for everything: Xanax. He also has alternative solutions ranging from marijuana to hiring a gigolo to seduce Suzie so Joel will be free to have a guilt-free affair.

Dean knows a guy who knows just the guy: Brad (90210's Dustin Milligan), who has a body but whose intellectual level puts the BRAD in braindead. Joel knows the gal he wants to have an affair with: Cindy (Mila Kunis), the new temp at the plant, who, unknown to him, left unethical far behind on the road to criminal long ago. She can make any man do anything by writing checks with her eyes that her body won't cash... unless it has to.

There may be big changes coming up at Reynold's. General Mills is interested in buying the company, which would let Joel retire with a tidy profit; but an employee, Step (Clifton Collins Jr.) is injured in an industrial accident and sleazy attorney Joe Adler (Gene Simmons) can bankrupt the company over it.

Those are the wheels Judge sets in motion, and I like the way he rolls. The ending, full of work ethics and family values, would be corny if he played "God Bless America" behind it instead of the Texas Tornados.

Among the plant's employees are constant complainer Mary (Beth Grant) and stock guy Rory (T.J. Miller), who plays in a band called God's Cock.

If you want to make a quick couple billion I've got six words for you: Mila Kunis mud wrestling Megan Fox. If your goals are more modest and you just want to laugh for 90 minutes, one word: Extract.