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Independent Pick: Extract (2009)


Following the success of his 1999 film Office Space, writer-director Mike Judge (Beavis and Butthead) prepared Extract as a companion piece to that earlier work – centering his comedy around a work-place once again. This time, that place of employment is Reynolds Extract – a flavouring-extracts manufacturer – founded and owned by Joel Reynolds (Jason Bateman).

Having made his business a success, Joel begins to acknowledge the fact that he has been neglecting his wife (Kristen Wiig). She is now bored, and his marriage is deteriorating. At the same time, an industrial accident in his factory half-castrates one of his employees – an event that mysteriously coincides with the arrival of the enigmatic Cindy (Mila Kunis) who, unbeknownst to Joel, is a prolific con-artist. As Cindy pulls the strings of a wide variety of people, she continues to turn the head of the sexually frustrated Joel, who confides in his pothead, bartending best friend, Dean (Ben Affleck). Dean gets Joel stoned on Ketamine and convinces him to hire a gigolo to seduce his wife, thus giving Joel a free pass to have an affair himself. At least, that’s the plan.

As this cast of shady characters are all set on a collision course with each other, the story twists and turns, and twists again – all the while remaining tightly-paced, with great visuals and hilarious dialogue. The real draw for this film, however, is the cast. As Joel, Bateman takes his trademark Arrested Development characterization and makes the subtlest of adjustments to create a hitherto well-intentioned man, whose frustrations lead him to rail against restrictions in all areas of his life. Kristen Wiig takes the role of ‘bored housewife,’ and fills it with resentment and resignation – giving us a real sense of the sacrifices she regrets making for her husband’s success. As Cindy the con-artist, Mila Kunis delivers a sparky, ambitious and cynical character, who makes a last desperate grab for redemption. Then, there is Ben Affleck as pothead Dean – absolutely stealing every scene he is in. If ever there was a part that exemplified why this actor should do more real comedy – it’s this one (for further proof, see the clip below).

With David Koechner, J.K Simmons, Clifton Collins Jr. and the phenomenal Gene Simmons in supporting roles, Extract is certainly worthy of its association with Office Space, and is worthy of recommendation to your Netflix queue, too.