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Joel Reynolds (Jason Bateman) is sitting pretty. With a beautiful wife, a comfortable home and the almost finalized acquisition by General Mills of the culinary extracts business he has built with his loyal lieutenant Brian (J.K. Simmons), Joel seems to have it all. Except his wife is about as interested in him as she is in her career (supermarket coupon design), his employees want a piece of the pie and the sweet young thing with designs on him (Mila Kunis) is really a wily con-artist. On the advice of a drug-addled confidante (Ben Affleck), Joel cooks up a scheme to cheat with impunity by hiring a gigolo to seduce his wife—only to discover the young object of his affection is behind a lawsuit by long-time employee Step (Clifton Collins, Jr.) that will scotch the General Mills deal and leave Joel penniless. The best-laid plans unravel with hilarious results in this off-the wall comedy about life in the not-so-fast lane.
For more about Extract and the Extract Blu-ray release, see Extract Blu-ray Review published by Kenneth Brown on December 17, 2009 where this Blu-ray release scored 2.5 out of 5.
Starring: Jason Bateman, Mila Kunis, Kristen Wiig, Ben Affleck, J.K. Simmons, Clifton Collins, Jr.
Director: Mike Judge
» See full cast & crew
Extract Blu-ray Review
Meh. Not enough flavor...
Reviewed by Kenneth Brown, December 17, 2009
While my top five comedies of all time have been in a constant state of flux over the years, one film has consistently held its own atop my list: Office Space, writer/director Mike Judge's second stab at everlasting pop culture life (after Beavis and Butthead all but guaranteed his name would forever be linked to MTV's oft-forgotten glory days). Sharp, irreverent, and unexpectedly relevant, it set Judge's bar so high that he's been forced to compete with his own work. Idiocracy, an inane, somewhat reckless bit of satirical drivel released in 2006 to little acclaim, disappointed critics and audiences alike, emerging as a front runner for worst comedy of the decade. Extract, Judge's supposed return to his roots, has been greeted with equally subdued fanfare, and for good reason. It isn't as mind-numbingly stupid as Idiocracy, but it is just as shallow; it isn't as dull, but it isn't nearly as infectious as Office Space; I chuckled here and there, but rarely felt connected to its characters, humor, or story. In fact, the only thing that pulled me from scene to scene was sheer, detached curiosity.
Welcome to Reynold's Extract, a successful flavor-extract and bottling plant in nowhere Middle America whose owner and founder, Joel Reynolds (Jason Bateman), is at a crossroads. One of his most loyal employees (Clifton Collins Jr.) is suing the company after a truly wince-inducing injury, buy-out negotiations with General Mills have stalled, and his remaining workers (Beth Grant, T.J. Miller, Javier Gutiérrez, and others) are threatening to go on strike. But Extract doesn't seem to care about the day-to-day minutiae of blue collar businesses. It's actually a less meaty, ultimately less satisfying comedy about Joel's relationship with his drifting wife, Suzie (Kristen Wiig). After hiring a dimwitted young man named Brad (Dustin Milligan) to seduce her -- a plan suggested by his carefree friend, Dean (Ben Affleck), to give Joel the excuse he needs to sleep with a temp named Cindy (Mila Kunis) -- the disheartened businessman is shocked when Suzie immediately succumbs to the new pool boy's charms. So it is that while Joel's company looms on the brink of annihilation, we're handed a thin story about infidelity, self-destructive anxiety, and the many challenges of dealing with an annoying neighbor (David Koechner, doing an ill-advised, small-town impersonation of Gary Cole's yeaaaaaaah-spewing Bill Lumbergh). Hardly the proper Office Space successor Judge's canon so desperately needs.
If it seems like I'm focusing on Office Space more than Extract it's only because Judge constantly invites such comparisons. A likable guy whose personal and professional lives face simultaneous crises? Check. Quirky, mindless co-workers whose lives are defined by the tedium of their work? Yep. Middle managers out of touch with their employees? A self-serving, multi-staged plan that goes awry? Grueling injuries that end at a big payday? Misguided counsel from a laid-back friend? Hail, hail, the gang's all here. But while Judge sets up a string of go-to dominoes, he neglects to knock them down. Extract certainly has potential -- Bateman taps into his endearing Arrested Development schtick, Wiig summons subtlety to hilarious effect, J.K. Simmons steals several scenes, and Kiss frontman Gene Simmons cameos as a devilishly devious lawyer -- but it rarely cashes in on its talent, serving up a bland, at-times plodding tale that ends almost exactly where it begins. Which is to say nowhere. Even bits Judge primes for laughs fall flat. The elderly are paranoid and racist? Immigrants don't speak English? Women are prone to cheating? Neighbors rarely realize they're a nuisance? Managers don't know their employees' names? Drugs land well-intentioned people in crazy situations? Attractive women take advantage of ugly saps? Insert laughs here... if you haven't already wasted them on a thousand different comedies anchored to the same tired gags.
Extract lacks drive and intelligence. The jokes come fast and easy, but such welcome traits fail to mesh with the deadpan deliveries and low-key performances that dot the film. Worse still, Judge's dialogue isn't clever or memorable, his characters are as superficial as their development, his story is as slight as his commentary on blue collar America, and his setups don't pay off as well as he intends. I know, I know, every comedy finds an audience -- I'm sure someone, somewhere on our message boards is penning a heated post declaring me a self-righteous dolt for not enjoying Extract more -- but sometimes unamusing is just unamusing, daft is just daft, slow is just slow. I don't profess myself the be-all, end-all authority on the genre. However, very little in Judge's latest left me laughing; few things made it worth watching. Bateman, Wiig, Simmons and Simmons, and Collins do well with what they're handed, but nothing resonates. For my money, I'll stick with Office Space. Even after dozens of viewings, it still manages to do everything Extract does not.
Extract Blu-ray, Video Quality
Extract hobbles onto Blu-ray with a stilted 1080p/AVC-encoded transfer that, while presumably faithful to Judge's intentions, turns out to be as unremarkable as they come. Colors are strong and skintones are passable (albeit a bit too orange), but black levels are rarely resolved, contrast flutters frequently, and detail is terribly inconsistent. Textures come and go as they please, and clarity ranges from somewhat revealing to downright soft. Some scenes look as if were ripped off a standard DVD (worst among them Joel's meeting with Joe Adler), undermining the integrity of the entire presentation. It doesn't help that the image resembles something that's been fed through an industrial press; one tasked with cruelly pummeling the print and stamping out any semblance of depth. Sadly, a two-dimensional picture isn't the only cause for alarm. Crush, mild ringing, and faint source noise are persistent issues, and a touch of telecine wobble -- a slight shakiness usually associated with poorly remastered catalog titles -- introduce instability into the proceedings. Again, it's clear Judge's vision is being honored to some degree, but it's difficult to tell which problems are a direct result of his hand and which are signs of a sketchy transfer. I would suggest dialing down your expectations significantly.
Extract Blu-ray, Audio Quality
Flat and front-heavy, Disney's underwhelming DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround track is a slave to its flawed source; sound design so sterile that renders Reynold's Extract the quietest bottling plant in history. Dialogue is generally clean and intelligible -- despite the fact that some scenes (chief among them Joel's first encounter with Cindy) struggle with muffled voices -- but little else makes a lasting impact. Rear speaker activity is sparse, ambience seems to be an afterthought, acoustics are unconvincing, and LFE support is weak in the knees. Yes, patrons of Dean's bar offer up thin background chatter and aging factory conveyor belts sound reasonably dilapidated, but the film's lazy score is the only element of the mix that remotely takes advantage of the full soundfield. Everything else is merely passable. Directionality is spotty, pans are fairly smooth, and dynamics are adequate (particularly considering the track's aforementioned issues). Although I have no doubt this is probably the best Extract will or could ever sound, it doesn't take away the sting of a mediocre mix. Newcomers will yawn, fans will shrug their shoulders, and audiophiles will simply shake their heads.
Extract Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
The Blu-ray edition of Extract includes three blink-and-you'll-miss-em special features: a decent behind-the-scenes featurette called "Mike Judge's Secret Recipe" (HD, 11 minutes), five decidedly bland extended scenes (SD, 4 minutes), and a lone deletion (SD, 1 minute) that isn't worth the forty seconds it takes to watch. No more, no less.
Extract Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
Unfocused and unfunny, Extract mills about without ever actually going anywhere. It's certainly a better film than Idiocracy, but that isn't saying much. Unfortunately, Disney's Blu-ray release is just as problematic, arriving with an underwhelming video transfer, a disappointing DTS-HD Master Audio track, and a paltry fifteen minutes of special features. It seems Judge acolytes will need to stick with Office Space, a richer, more satisfying comedy that delivers a superior high definition experience.
Extract: Other Editions
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Extract Blu-ray, News and Updates
• Today on Blu-ray - December 22nd - December 22, 2009
Typically, the week before Christmas lacks big name releases due to studios admission that the majority of holiday shopping has already taken place, and there is no room for last minute purchases like a new Blu-ray release. In fact, the week after Christmas is ...
• Disney Announces Extract for Blu-ray - October 31, 2009
Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment has announced that they will bring the Mike Judge film 'Extract' to Blu-ray on December 22nd, day-and-date with the DVD release. Featuring Jason Bateman and Mila Kunis, video will be presented in 1.85:1 1080p AVC accompanied ...
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