As prolific as writer/director Mike Judge has been throughout a stellar career that includes such television staples as Beavis and Butt-Head and King of the Hill, it's to his detriment (and ours) that he hasn't done more feature films.
Office Space (1999) became a cult classic after its failed theatrical release. Idiocracy (2006) did the same in spite of its mistreatment by distributors.
With Extract, Judge crafts a solid comic narrative base for a flavoring-extract company run by sexually frustrated owner Joel Reynold (well played by Jason Bateman). His staff of barely competent blue-collar workers sets off a chain-reaction accident that climaxes with a severed testicle for would-be floor manager Step (Clifton Collins Jr.).
Step falls prey to the con-artist attentions of Cindy (Mila Kunis), a sex-kitten opportunist determined to help him sue the Reynold Extract company right out of business.
Joel adds to his headaches when, in a drugged-out state, he takes his barkeep pal Dean’s (Ben Affleck) bad advice to hire a gigolo to sleep with his sexually closed-off wife Suzie (Kristen Wiig) so that he can then cheat on Suzie with impunity.
The tone of the comedy is spot-on, but Judge never manages to bring the humor to a boil. There are chuckles and even a few belly laughs to be had, but Extract can’t help but falter next to the work of Judd Apatow, who has set the bar high for this kind of comedy.
Nonetheless, you get the sense that if Judge made more pictures he'd hit his stride alongside the likes of Apatow pretty quickly. Grade: B-
Opens Sept. 4. Check out theaters and show times, see the film's trailer and get theater details here.