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Like a lot of people I just came off a really depressing year with 2009. As we enter a New Year and second decade of this millennium it appears that a little foolishness may just be in order. After all the reason why people flocked to the theaters during the Great Depression to watch the silly antics of film comedians was for the incredible escapism afforded by a light hearted comedy. With that in mind certain allowances can be permitted in the consideration of a flick such as ‘Extract’. This is the kind of movie that tends to do less than stellar with box office and critical response but make a profit in the home theater market. Perhaps audiences don’t want to be seen on line for a silly little movie but the fact is this one is much better than many of its ilk making for an entertaining popcorn flick that with an ‘R’ rating renders it not for the entire family it would serve well when adult friends stop by for a distracting movie night. There is a special place in the hearts of many in an audience for blue collar humor. There is a reason the ongoing comedy tour dedicated to this kind of comedy is so successful. Humor based of common, relatable humor can be the perfect relief from the work-a-day woes and tribulations we all face on a daily basis. Watching the lamentable characters experiencing circumstances far worse than anything we could possibly imagine just seems to put things into a brighter perspective. "Extract’ has that sort of appeal providing a look at a life so bereft of anything positive that by comparison anything that is going on with you is going to appear great. Bottom line here is this movie somehow manages to be better than the sum of its parts making for a fun watch.

The creative mind behind this movie is well known to many fans of blue collar humor, Mike Judge. His resume is firmly constructed on his ability to seamlessly blend the offbeat with the common place. Just look at his prior accomplishments that include ‘Beavis and Butt-Head’ and ‘King of the Hill’ in the world of animation and cult classic movies like ‘Office Space’ and ‘Idiocracy’. All of these works have some extremely important elements in common especially reveling in the joys of being mentally incompetent. Few of the characters here or in any of Judges’ other works will ever be seen at a Mensa meeting except perhaps sweeping up. Yes, there is always someone in a Mike Judge production that will make you feel very superior. A large part of what works in this flick is the gentle way it slips horrendous situations into the story making it seem just as natural as possible. Judge’s direction reinforces his writing using a style that flows with a pacing that enfolds the audience pulling them in to the events. This is extremely important with the improbable coincidences that are required to drive the story. A big part of the fun here is the cascade of situations that seem to plot against the protagonist, Joel Reynolds (Jason Bateman) finding even the tiniest speck of happiness in his lamentable life.

Joel is just trying to deal with life best he can but between managing the extract factory he started some time ago and a marriage that has been completely sexless for quite a few months. His factory is completely staffed by incompetent morons. His friend and general manager Brian (J.K. Simmons) doesn’t even care enough to learn the names of the staff holding everyone in the greatest distain. One day a bizarre chain of accidents one of the men working on the conveyor belt, Step (Clifton Collins, Jr.) winds up having his testicles severed. Although the doctors can sort of save one the other is gone for good. He really doesn’t want anything more than the insurance settlement which is great for Joel since e a large company is interested in buying the firm for more than it is worth but if Step decides to sue the deal is off. Just when it looks like something will go Joel’s way a pretty young con woman, Cindy (Mila Kunis) reads about the accident and gets hired by the factor in order to track down Step, get him to sue and steal the money from him. When Joel gets a look at her he wants to have an affair with her but first takes the advice of his best friend, Ben (Ben Affleck) the druggie bartender, and hires the pool boy to sleep with his wife. Naturally everything goes quickly awry. The script is much better written than I had expected with much of the humor sharper than most ‘R’ rated comedies. This is also evident in the comic timing and the impressive professionalism of a well seasoned cast. The film has a good amount of heart and came off as an enjoyable evening with friends. It may not be great but it is solid and doesn’t overreach in its expectations.

Posted 01/03/2010

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