Kristen Wiig finds out Dustin Milligan has all the right moves.

(Miramax) Jason Bateman, Kristen Wiig, Ben Affleck, Mila Kunis, J.K. Simmons, David Koechner, Clifton Collins Jr., T.J. Miller, Beth Grant, Dustin Milligan, Gene Simmons. Directed by Mike Judge

In the classic 1999 film Office Space, writer/director Mike Judge looked at the life of a cubicle drone in a fairly sympathetic manner. Not only was it one of the most hilarious comedies of the ‘90s, it’s one of the funniest films ever. Despite a lackluster box office performance, it found cult status on home video afterwards.

Now a decade later, Judge is revisiting the work environment in Extract. Here, however, his sights are set on management, in the person of Joel (Bateman), the owner of an extract business (extracts are the flavor essences of various spices, fruits and vegetables used in cooking). His life could use some spice; his workers are mostly a dissatisfied, unmotivated lot. The one who had any enthusiasm at all, Step (Collins), had one of his testicles shorn off in a freak accident caused by one of the shrewish entitlement harpies who decided that she shouldn’t have to work as hard as the temporary worker they recently hired.

Now, Step has been enticed into suing the company by Cindy (Kunis), a self-serving con artist recently hired on as a temp and looking to make some easy money at the company’s expense. She’s convinced the slightly moronic Step that she has the hots for him. Yeah, right…as if. Now, the pending lawsuit is being pursued by rabid dog lawyer Joe Adler (Gene Simmons) just when General Mills is showing interest in buying the company, which would essentially set up Joel and his partner Brian (J.K. Simmons) up for life. Instead, the lawsuit would effectively shut the company down for good.

Things aren’t much better for Joel at home. His wife Suzie (Wiig) has essentially lost interest in sex; if he arrives home after 8pm (which he almost always does), the sweatpants will be cinched tightly around her waist ; once that occurs  any chance he might have at sex that evening gets vaporized. Sometimes, the dreaded sweatpants of abstinence might be on before 8pm. Joel complains about the situations to his good friend Dean (Affleck), a bartender by trade and pothead by avocation who can usually offer bad advice on any subject. This time, his stoner friend advises him to cheat on Suzie but Joel is unable to do it. So Dean recommends that he get Suzie to cheat instead; once she does, he won’t feel as bad about getting sex outside the marriage.

To do this, Joel hires a dimwitted mono-browed gigolo named Brad (Milligan) to seduce his wife, but the plan works too well; Brad falls in love with Suzie and starts to make regular visits. So too does Nathan (Koechner), quite possibly the most annoying neighbor in the history of neighborhoods. Joel’s world is crumbling around him and it isn’t really fair; after all, he’s just a nice guy who only wants to sell cooking extracts – and he’s really, really good at making them.

First of all, this isn’t Office Space. While there’s a similar style to both movies, they’re two completely different kettles of fish; comparing them is kind of a waste of time. Oh, certainly you’ll form an opinion and chances are that if you liked the first movie, you’ll probably like this one too. However, Office Space is far more satirical that this puppy and goes for a much broader kind of humor. Extract makes a lot more hay based on feeling and environment.

Of course, there’s Jason Bateman who is emerging as the kind of likable Everyman sort of guy that used to be the sole province of Greg Kinnear. Bateman’s so completely nice as Joel that you can’t help but root for him. The rest of the cast does pretty good as well, particularly Affleck sporting an al Quaeda beard as the well-intentioned friend. Affleck has really emerged as a reliable supporting actor; I’m curious to see how he does in a lead role again in The Town when it opens later this fall.

Kunis, who has recently been cast in action roles that don’t seem to suit her nearly as much (see Max Payne and The Book of Eli) seems way more comfortable in this comedic Jezebel role. J.K. Simmons and Clifton Collins are both reliable character actors who don’t disappoint here, and Wiig does her best MILF impression as you can see in the photo above.

Extract was overshadowed by comedies like The Hangover and Funny People when it was released last year, and like Office Space didn’t do gangbusters box office. It’s available now on DVD and cable, so do yourself a favor and check it out. Hopefully it’ll get a similar kind of cult following Office Space did on the home video market.

WHY RENT THIS: A return to form by Judge after his godawful Idiocracy. Bateman is becoming adept at the everyman role.

WHY RENT SOMETHING ELSE: Humor can be pretty scattershot in places.

FAMILY VALUES: The language is a bit foul in places, there are some sexual and adult situations and a little bit of drug use; this probably isn’t for sensitive souls.

TRIVIAL PURSUIT: Gary Cole, who played Bill Lumbergh in Office Space, makes a cameo in the bar scene standing between Dean and Joel.




New Releases for the Week of September 4, 2009


Sandra Bullock: Cutie-pie or stalker?

Sandra Bullock: Cutie-pie or stalker?


(20th Century Fox) Sandra Bullock, Bradley Cooper, Thomas Haden Church, Ken Jeong, DJ Qualls, Katy Mixon, Howard Hesseman, Beth Grant, Keith David. Directed by Phil Traill.

It starts out with a blind date. Cable news cameraman Steve and trivia expert Mary are very different; Mary is socially awkward and very bright, Steve is down-to-earth. The date is over and so is the relationship; at least, Steve thinks so. Mary, on the other hand, thinks she has found the one she’s meant for and she’s willing to go anywhere – and everywhere – no matter what to be with “her man.” Steve wants nothing more to do with her, much to the amusement of reporter Hartman Hughes, who thinks any opportunity to torture his cameraman is a good one. So is it true love? Or is it stalking? I think you can guess the answer.

See the trailer here.

For more on the movie this is the website.

Rating: PG-13 (for sexual content including innuendos)


(Miramax) Jason Bateman, Mila Kunis, Ben Affleck, Kristen Wiig. Director Mike Judge goes from the white collar workplace of Office Space to the blue collar battleground here. The sexually frustrated owner of a culinary extract factory concocts an elaborate scheme to get his frigid wife to cheat on him so that he is free to pursue the hot temp working for him, unaware that his temp is a con artist looking for a big payday and finds one – just as his business is about to be sold for millions. Is this going to be more like Office Space or Idiocracy? Looks more like the former, judging on the trailer.

See the trailer here.

For more on the movie this is the website.

Rating: R (for language, sexual references and some drug use)


(Lionsgate) Gerard Butler, Michael C. Hall, Ludacris, Kyra Sedgwick. In the near future, mind control technology allows gamers to take control of actual people and play out duels to the death in reality in a game called Slayers. The most successful Slayer of all is Kable; a man ripped from his family and forced to fight in the arena of death. He must convince his player, Simon, to help him escape the game, free his family and stop the billionaire responsible for the carnage.

See the trailer here.

For more on the movie this is the website.

Rating: R (for frenetic sequences of strong brutal violence throughout, sexual content, nudity and language)


(Magnolia) Marc Duplass, Joshua Leonard, Alycia Delmore, Lynn Shelton. Two old college buddies get drunk one night and decide to enter an amateur porn contest, but what could they do that will go so far as to push the boundaries of decency that hasn’t already been done before? It’s a sticky question, and the answer is for the two very straight, very heterosexual guys to have sex on-camera. How will they make it work? And who will tell the wife of one of the buddies? Director Shelton pokes at buddy-film conventions while exploring the vast underbelly of the male ego.

See the trailer here.

For more on the movie this is the website.

Rating: R (for some strong sexual content, pervasive language and a scene of drug use)