Like icebergs, much of the humor in contemporary movie comedies lies below the surface. Too much of it remains positively buried in director/writer Mike Judge’s (OFFICE SPACE) newest paean to workplace frustration about a harried food flavoring plant owner (Jason Bateman) contending with clueless employees and a sexually unresponsive wife (Kristen Wiig). One storyline involving a worker (Clifton Collins Jr.) who literally gives up a left part of his anatomy on the job can’t ever decide whether it wants to play this situation for laughs or sympathize with a character who comes off as pathetically naďve and really stupid. The same can be said for the other staff who can’t grasp the correlation between the arrival of a sensuous “temp” (Mila Kunis) who’s a con artist and the disappearance of their belongings. Equally unbelievable is a plot in which Bateman (JUNO) utilizes a studly, young moron (Dominic Milligan) to have an affair with Wiig (ADVENTURELAND) who along with Gene Simmons of KISS is totally wasted in this movie. That’s unfortunate because there are some genuinely funny moments of subtle satirical merit that are readily identifiable to anyone who spends an eight-hour workday around people that you have absolutely nothing in common with. Newcomer Milligan is a comic find as is David Koechner (THANK YOU FOR SMOKING) whose overly friendly neighbor nearly redeems the film with a darkly hilarious concluding “twist” that I thought was its best part. Metaphorically speaking, though, EXTRACT is kind of like the large jigsaw puzzle that you spend a lot of time putting together only to realize at the end that a couple of pieces weren’t put in the box. It doesn’t make for a satisfactory experience, and this isn’t quite a satisfactory movie either.
CURRENT AND NEW DVDs THAT I RECOMMEND: ADVENTURELAND, CHOKE, THE CLASS, EARTH, I LOVE YOU, MAN, REVOLUTIONARY ROAD, RUDO Y CURSI, SIN NOMBRE, STATE OF PLAY, WENDY AND LUCY