Combustible Celluloid
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With: Jason Bateman, Mila Kunis, Kristen Wiig, Ben Affleck, J.K. Simmons, Clifton Collins Jr., Dustin Milligan, David Koechner, Beth Grant, T.J. Miller, Javier Gutierrez, Lidia Porto, Gene Simmons, Matt Schulze, Lamberto Gutierrez
Written by: Mike Judge
Directed by: Mike Judge
MPAA Rating: R for language, sexual references and some drug use
Running Time: 91
Date: 09/04/2009

Extract (2009)

2 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

Returning the Flavor

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Mike Judge packs a lot of jokes and very little movie into his new Extract. The movie has a kind of lazy, cruddy look -- which may or may not have been on purpose -- and the screenplay alternates between wanting a plot and wanting to just wallow in the latest laugh. An 11th hour character, a sleazy lawyer who advertises on park benches, could have livened up the party, but instead he falls flat. Jason Bateman stars Joel, a chemist who started his own food extract company and oversees production. Joel works too much and his sex life with his wife, Suzie (Kristen Wiig), is on the rocks.

A freak accident knocks the testicles off of "Step" (Clifton Collins Jr.) a good-hearted redneck worker who dreams of being floor manager, and who will receive a nice insurance payoff. Meanwhile, a super-hot new temp, Cindy (Mila Kunis), arrives at the factory and has begun flirting with Joel. He tells his troubles to a bartender pal, Dean (Ben Affleck), and a crazy plan is launched. They will hire a male hustler, the hyper-dumb Brad (Dustin Milligan) to pose as a pool boy and try to seduce Suzie. If he succeeds, then Joel is morally free to pursue an affair with Cindy.

It turns out that Cindy is really a hustler who is looking to get in good with "Step" before his insurance money comes through. Worse, she persuades him to hire Joe Adler (Gene Simmons), to sue the company for an even bigger chunk of change. (Simmons fails to do anything interesting with this potentially knockout role.) This all adds up to too much plot that must eventually be resolved at the expense of the laughs. But aside from lazy filmmaking, there are a good many chuckles here, many of them from J.K. Simmons as Joel's right-hand man at the factory; he can't remember any of the workers' names and calls them all "dingus."

Miramax's new DVD comes with a bunch of trailers and a pretty typical 10-minute making-of featurette.

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