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Sep 7, 2009

Fletch's Film Review: Extract

You've probably noticed that everything written about Extract compares it in some form or another to one of writer/director Mike Judge's previous works, especially his last two live-action ones, Idiocracy and Office Space.

Well...it's really hard not to.

For a guy with so few feature films under his belt, the man has a reputation that precedes him, be that as a guy with his finger on the pulse of the "middle American working class" or as the guy whose movies get the Renee Zellweger treatment from the studios, as in, they're happy to have him attached until he gets attached, and then they want nothing to do with him. Or something like that. In fact, what might be the biggest obstacle in the way of his success is...his success. Over the past 15 years, the man has been involved in relatively few year projects, and all of them have been hits, in one form or another. Beavis and Butthead? Massive pop culture phenomenon. King of the Hill? A modest ratings success, but it's hard to downplay any television show that's been on for 13 seasons (unless it's something like J.A.G.). And the aforementioned live-action flicks, while not box office hits in the least, have an army of ardent supporters behind them.

Thus, with each new project, the big question - Will this be the Judge project that's simultaneously a hit with mainstream audiences, "cult" audiences and critics alike? - just keeps getting bigger. Well, until now, perhaps.

It isn't that Extract is a bad film, per se; it's just not a particularly good one - like Management, only with a better cast and slightly better writing. Watching with a keen eye for things that might be picked up on later as pieces of Judge's subversive genius, I found nothing. To use an all-time worst cliche, Extract is what it is. What is that? Well, it's a story of an ordinary man undergoing an extraordinary ordeal, only said ordeal is neither extraordinary nor is it really an ordeal - it's just a successful middle-aged white guy going through the same sh*t that I'm sure 90% of the SMAWGs go through: idiotic underlings, a wife bored with a husband that pays all of his attention to his job, annoying neighbors, temptations from younger, fairer members of the opposite sex. Yawn.

While you've also no doubt heard that Extract is meant to be the spiritual sequel to Office Space, the word anti-sequel might be more apt. What I'm reminded of more is the trials that all successful bands seem to go through. It's easy to gain fans when you're young and broke, singing about your tough, gritty life and your charming paeans to the magical, mystical females in your life; it's quite another task to endear fans while you're bitching about your success, talking about your BMW 7 series and your hanger-ons. As Ben Folds put so eloquently in his song "One Down:"

I'm really not complaining
I realize it's just a job
and I hate hearing belly-aching
rock stars whine and sob
cause I could be busing tables
I could well be pumping gas
But I get paid much finer
for playing piano and kissing ass

Mike Judge is neither busing tables nor pumping gas, and though I won't go so far as to say that he's lost the connection to his core audience (this is but one film, after all), it does seem fair to say that, with Extract, he's clearly not on his A-game.

Fletch's Film Rating:
"You seem a decent fellow. I hate to kill you."
Shaky Cam Rating (details): LAMBScore:
Large Association of Movie BlogsLarge Association of Movie Blogs

Random, unrelated thought: You might also notice that, despite my mostly unflattering review, I still gave Extract a middle-of-the-road grade. I understand that this comes mostly from inflated expectations; I had hoped for something special and was clearly let down. However, a middling Judge flick is still not a terrible thing in my book; while it only has a handful of LOL moments (the Adler commercials, all of the David Koechner scenes), I wouldn't likely turn it off when it pops up on Comedy Central two years from now. It's just that I won't be purchasing it, either.

9 people have chosen wisely: on "Fletch's Film Review: Extract"

Mrs Fletch said...

Good review for a mediocre film. It would have been much better if at least SOME of the cast hadn't been total stereotypes.

Big Mike Mendez said...

Wow, couldn't believe how different our opinions are on this film. My review will be up in the morning, but come on, Affleck was the bomb in Extract!

Daniel Getahun said...

Yeah I was a little "eh"-y about it, but I'm sure I'll be watching on TV soon enough as well. Kind of consistently chuckle-worthy throughout but not nearly enough hilarity. Koechner and Bateman were great, though.

Something was just...missing. Of course, I had my expectations low from early buzz so I was pleased enough walking out of it. I might have been a lot more disappointed otherwise.

Film Gurl said...

When I first saw the trailer for this movie, it looked like something I wanted to see. Though, now with so many other movies I want to see out there I'm debating whether to wait for this one to come out on DVD. Nice review!

Louis said...

The management movie is a comedy movie.Mike works in a motel owned by his family...sue is a girl who does not know what she wants and what she needs in life...Then mike helped her and then they lived happily... I Download the management movie from this website

Fletch said...

Mrs. Fletch - I hear ya. At least it was likable actors playing the paper-thin roles though, right?

Mike - yeah, Affleck was funny as expected. A great role for him at this stage of his career.

Daniel - glad to see that we're back on the same page. :)

Film Gurl - I'd say either way you'll be alright. It's not bad enough that you'll hate yourself for spending the theater money on it, and it's not good enough to warrant running out to see it right away. Considering its size and scope, DVD sounds perfect (and it would be fitting with the Mike Judge tradition of discovering his films after their theatrical run ;) ).

Farzan said...

Dang, I guess we were on the same page with pretty much everything. Not a bad movie, just alittle weak when compared to Office Space, which is weird considering its got an ensemble cast.

Anonymous said...

Not much to add but my wholehearted agreement. Very middle-of-the-road effort from Judge.

35mm Reviews said...

Such an interesting review. I personally haven't watched this one yet, but I'm absolutely looking for it, no matter the good or bad reviews I might read about it.

I like the comparison you offer between Extract and Management, which I totally loved!

Thinking on such a great cast, I expect it to be at least, entertaining and fresh.