(US, 2009, d. Mike Judge)
Even when we discover that the extract of the title refers to extracts of, say, vanilla, for flavouring products, it still doesn't really tell us much about the plot at all. Or, whether it is a comedy or a serious film. Let's say a broad comedy which raises some moral issues which are more serious. Let's also say that it deals with ordinary enough people that many audiences could identify with, if not in behaviour, at least, in temptations and personal crises and decisions – and the need to repair and make amends for some of them.
Actually, that might make it sound a bit more grandiose than it is, although grandiose it really is not.
Put it this way: Joel is a middle aged small factory owner, lenient on his staff (many of whom are stupid, gossipy and accident-prone) who receives an offer for his factory, who finds his wife, Suzie, rather cool at home and who takes refuge in a bar where his old friend, Dean, is the bartender and is full of really bad advice (and drugs as well). There is also a young con woman, Cindy, who is an unscrupulous thief who teams up with an employee, Step, who is the victim of a severe accident and is good-natured about it (until he meets Cindy). What is Joel to do – and, what is worse, what does he do, egged on by Dean?
Jason Bateman is Joel. He has been in many recent films and has proven himself quite a character actor. Dean is played with nonchalence by an almost unrecognisable Ben Affleck. Mila Kunis is the recidivist Cindy. Kristen Wiig is Suzie.
Add to that there are quite a few supporting characters who are well played,which probably make Extract better than it might have been. David Koechner is the wearing good neighbour whose demise comes as something of a shock to him and to us all. J.K. Simmons, always worth seeing, is the factory assistant. Gene Simmons (yes, of Kiss) is a ranting lawyer. Dustin Milligan makes a convincing really, really slow-witted would-be gigolo and Clifton Collins Jr offers a good turn as Step.
Writer-director, Mike Judge, made the animated film Beavis and Butthead do America, so he is not against some satiric touches in portraying some average (at times, very average in their decisions) middle Americans.