Movie goers have developed a taste for the unsung hero. Box office hits like Superbad, Knocked Up and Pineapple Express serve to show how easy and enjoyable it is to root for characters with little more than a strong will and a knack for the absurd. While this formula for success seems to have created a formidable sub-genre of film, it does not necessarily stand to reason that a movie with a star-studded cast is assured success at the box office.
A director like Judd Apatow has his band of Hollywood underdog types and Mike Judge takes his cue from Apatow for his directorial return to the workplace, casting such household names as Jason Bateman, Mila Kunis and Kristen Wiig with Extract.
The film is a 30-something comedy that combines many of the elements of Judge's previous workplace comedy, Office Space. That said, this film is a far cry from the 1999 cult classic that brought the director fame.
The film opens on Joel (Bateman), the owner of a food extract plant with aspirations of early retirement. His hopes lie in the hands of his incompetent factory workers, whose immature antics result in a freak accident involving a renegade piston and a man's testicles. A lawsuit ensues and Joel's dreams are then put on hold.
Meanwhile, at home, Joel's wife Suzie (Wiig) has declared an unspoken period of sexual abstinence, honoured daily when she cinches up her mood- killing sweat pants. The sexy new factory line temp Cindy (Kunis) seems a welcome alternative to Joel's frigid wife.
Bogged down by his problems at home and at work, Joel seeks comfort in long time buddy and bartender Dean, played by Ben Affleck. The two decide Joel must hire a gigolo to tempt his wife into an affair, so he can have a guilt-free romp with Cindy.
Extract is the culmination of a trend to pair mediocre scripts with well-established comic actors. No one character is more interesting or relatable than the next. Instead, the ensemble of cliched characters stumble into some semblance of resolution at the last possible second, rather than reaching any point of development on their own.
Though one hopes the combined reputation of Judge and crew would result in something worth seeing, Extract falls far short of any expectation.