Extract (US - BD RA)
Gabe learns the ins and outs of the flavor extract process with Mike Judge
Joel Reynolds (Jason Bateman) is the founder and owner of Reynold's Extract, a flavor-extract company, who is trapped in a frustratingly sexless marriage with his wife Suzie (Kristen Wiig). One unfortunate day a series of mishaps leads an employee named Step (Clifton Collins Jr.) losing one of his testicles, and the threat of a possibly lucrative lawsuit attracts the attention of a drifting con-artist named Cindy (Mila Kunis). Cindy takes a job at Reynold’s Extract, and convinces the otherwise mellow Step to pursue the lawsuit, and hire an aggressive attorney named Joe Adler (Gene Simmons). Meanwhile, Cindy’s con-artist ways insure that she flirts with Joel, who takes the interaction to heart, and goes to his bar tender best friend Dean (Ben Affleck) for advice. The advice is not good.
I’ve never been totally sold on the cult of Mike Judge. I don’t like Beavis and Butthead, I’m rather ambivalent towards King of the Hill, and I didn’t enjoy Idiocracy. I admit an affection for Office Space, but I’ve never adored it as so many others do, so my take on the guy is that of an educated outsider. I’m just setting stuff up here, not knocking the guy’s work. Extract is patented, Office Space era Judge, just without that film’s indelible structure, and the characters are a little less strictly defined than those of the guy’s usual work. The teaser trailer didn’t really do the film any justice, for better or worse (the internet exclusive trailer gets much more to the point, to the point that Mila Kunis only makes one appearance), and were mostly made up of moments from the first act, so fans should also be happy with the surprise. The quick and good news is that Extract is funny, but the full story is a little more forgettable.
The film is an obvious companion piece to Office Space, likely because Idiocracy was such a mess upon release (not Judge’s fault), and the director wanted to get back to his ‘roots’. The plot itself is different, but the themes are very similar, and the characters can mostly be seen as analogs to Office Space characters. Really digging into comparisons would spoil the otherwise unspoiled film (those trailers), but there is a continuation aspect to the whole thing, in that this follows the late twenty-something adventures into those of an early forty-something’s life experience. The film’s general structure is a little too episodic for its own good, as if Judge had a series of skits in mind and built the script around him, which is far less impressive than the Office Space script, which has more of a linear plot. There’s also a heart to Office Space that’s missing here. The cast is well put together, but the film’s utter malaise kind of takes them over, and turns them into a relatively unremarkable soup of faces.
Extract is about the norm for modern, mainstream comedy, including rich colours, even contrast levels, rather harsh, diffused light, and sort of softened details. There’s nothing inherently wrong with this transfer, but it’s not super exciting. I’m assuming most of the problems with the transfer (which are quite minor) come out of the choices made during filming. Mid level and close up details are sharp enough, but long shot images are a little bit out of focus, and the isn’t a whole lot of consistency. There aren’t any major artefacts or noticeable edge-enhancement, but there is some consistent grain, and some of the harder edges blend more than they probably should. The darker outdoor scenes are a little grainier than most of us would like, and during these sequences the blacks are a bit grayed, while the smoke hazed scenes are really grainy. Colours are impressive enough in their overall brightness, and the blacks of the better lit scenes are thick support. Everything is slightly yellowed (on purpose) which makes for some really poppy deep blues. An adequate transfer, from an adequate movie.
The disc’s DTS-HD 5.1 follows the video’s precedent, and is mostly just an average affair. The bulk of the track is centered dialogue, and basic on set effects, which are also centered. Judge uses sound to an almost cartoonish effect during some of the off kilter physical gags, and these moments (often slow motion) are pretty much the only moments that really find their way into the stereo or surround channels, besides the music. In-keeping with the sound design themes of Office Space the pop music choices are mixed a bit louder than most mainstream, non-action films. These bits are mostly defined as stereo, with a bit of added LFE. The rest of the music, not counting a brief stint of concert style death metal, is there for comedic effect, and not particularly aggressive.
Disney/Miramax didn’t exactly dump the film, but they didn’t give it a whole lot of ad support, and this Blu-ray’s extras are pretty darn thin. Things start with ‘Mike Judge’s Secret Recipe’ (10:50, HD), a general making-of featurette that covers things from a slightly eschewed view, but generally just sells the film to prospective viewers. Subject matter includes the sets, Judge’s work, and the actors. This is followed by five slightly extended scenes (all including Ben Affleck, 4:30, SD), a deleted scene (:30, SD), and some Miramax trailers.
I was hoping for a somewhat transcendental comedic experience, like Adventureland, but Extract is just an enjoyable little film. That really should be enough for most people to at least give it a rent, and I’m guessing Judge’s fans are going to live the film for it’s many similarities to Office Space. This Blu-ray release isn’t very impressive, but the film’s general image and aural quality doesn’t mandate ultra sharp image, or mega aggressive sound. The extras are the disc’s only real disappointment, though the EPK is better than most.
Review by Gabriel Powers
Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian
Release Date: 22nd December 2009
Disc Type: Blu-ray Disc
Audio: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 English, Dolby Digital 5.1 French
Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish
Extras: Mike Judge’s Secret Recipe, Extended Scenes, Deleted Scene, Trailers
Easter Egg: No
Director: Mike Judge
Cast: Ben Affleck, Jason Bateman, Mila Kunis, Beth Grant, Jenny O'Hara, Gene Simmons
Length: 92 minutes
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