Monday, September 14, 2009


There have been a few points this year when my five hundred word goal on every review seems a bit too long. One would think it’s an easy goal, just five hundred words, anybody can do that, right? Well, go see Extract and tell me if you have that many words to say about it.

I very much wanted to enjoy this movie. Having followed Mike Judge’s career with a great amount of enthusiasm over the years, I was more than excited to see he was offering up another morsel of Americana. It’s hard not to love the spin he puts on every day life. We’ve all found ourselves quoting Office Space at one point or another. King of the Hill (may it rest in peace) is what good TV should be: Surprisingly familiar characters with humor being driven by their personalities, rather than laugh tracks and stupid jokes. And who of my generation can say that Beavis & Butthead wasn’t anything short of groundbreaking?

If you’ve never seen Idiocracy, his previous film, you’re missing out. It’s equally funny and terrifying. Try it out. Not a perfect movie, by any means, but I’ve never seen one quite like it.

So imagine my disappointment when Extract fell so flat. More than anything it’s just uneventful. One could make an argument that the movie is trying to capture the humdrum life that the main character is stuck in, but I’ve never been a big fan of arguments like that. You go to the movies to be entertained, not bored. No matter the justification.

Beyond that, it’s hard to come up with more to say about the movie. Jason Bateman is hard not to like. JK Simmons is another one of those actors who can’t not be funny. The various players of the factory floor, the film’s premiere stage, are expectedly familiar. But the show is pretty much entirely stolen by Ben Affleck. I don’t know if anyone saw that coming, but all of the most entertaining moments of the show feature him.

All in all, don’t bother seeing this in the theater. It won’t be there long anyway. Wait until it’s playing on Comedy Central some afternoon a couple years from now. Kill a couple hours, get a few chuckles, etc.

I met Mike Judge once. Back in Seattle, 2005 I think it was, at he and Don Hertzfeld’s touring Animation Show. I shook his hand and told him King of the Hill was a great show. He said, “I think we’ve got one season left.” That was four years ago, and I just watched the series finale last night. I’m gonna miss that show.

Every filmmaker is allowed one bad movie. Let’s just hope this is Mike Judge’s lowest point. The man’s just got too much to offer on the American experience to fall by the wayside yet.

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