Tuesday, September 8, 2009

(with Mike Judge Q&A)

In college, I got some friends to come with me to see Office Space. This was in Des Moines and of the 6 theaters in the city limits, it was only playing at the theater on the southside. I found that curious. Especially with a brand new 16 screening theater just open. When we got down there, I was again surprised that for a Friday night show, there were a lot of empty seats.

In hindsight, the creator of Beavis & Butthead crafted a wonderful little gem about office life. Quoted still, it seems Mike Judge is destined to be unappreciated in his own time. King of the Hill has been cancelled recently by Fox. His second film was given an even worse release. I believe it was 6 cities. Chicago was one of them, I was determined to spend my cash to get to see it in theatres too. And now he's back with a new film. How is it? We'll cover that later.

First, his Q&A. He was at the Chicago Ain't It Cool screening. A soft spoken man, you'd almost expect him to blend into the background. That's not a knock against him, but it just adds to the wonder when you realize he created two of the dumbest cartoon characters to be protested and picketed in our generation. Anyone expecting him to regale us with tales of mistreatment of his films and great yarns about the Hollywood machine would leave disappointed. As he said, he's happy to get to make films, whether they make money, that's up to the studio to market and release. (As I'm writing this, Extract has just come in 10th place on it's opening weekend). He doesn't have anything bad to say about anyone. The closest he comes, is talking about the real life inspiration for David Koechner's character in Extract based on a lady who lived in his gated community. I don't have any inside secrets or stories to tell you.

Now, the movie. It's very funny. Just like Office Space, some of the laughs are based on some low brow jokes and some of them are very sharp satire. I don't know of anyone else in film who makes movies that can meld both kinds of comedy so well. Jason Bateman does a good job playing the owner of an extract plant. Surrounded by characters, he's the one grounded in reality. His best friend (Ben Affleck) constantly gives him the worst advice. His Assistant Manager at the plant (JK Simmons) doesn't know any of the employees names. So when he talks about specific people, Bateman just has to assume who he's referring to. His wife (Kristin Wiig) works at home and resents him for it. She takes it out on him by setting an 8pm sweatpants deadline. Mila Kunis, we'll she's the wildcard. Her siren song catches the ears of a few men.

One of the best parts of this movie are David Koechner, who plays Bateman's neighbor. He's like the Milton / Lumburg baby. Soft spoken, but unable to buy a clue or take a hint. Unlike Koechner's usual shtick, he plays it subtly and really knocks it out of the park. The second best part of the movie is Brad. Stupid stupid Brad. He's like anyone of the people from the future in Idiocracy, only he's here today with us. He's a real life Beavis.

What doesn't work. Well, the movie has a hard time deciding if it is a farce or set in reality. You sit there and wonder how much you're willing to suspend belief. And because it has one foot in each world, you don't get quite as invested as you should. But the same can be said for Office Space. Which is the only real test you need to decide if you will enjoy this movie. Did you like Office Space? Then you'll enjoy Extract.

Did you enjoy it?

Would you see it in theaters again?

Would you rent it?

Would you buy it?
Probably. For sure from Blockbuster in the $5 bin.

Would you watch it if you saw it was on TV?


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