“Extract” lacks in flavor

Coming from the highs of “Office Space” and “Idiocracy,” Mike Judge hoped to please audiences with his newest project, “Extract.” Despite some good performances and a handful of laugh lines, the film fails to live up to expectations. The film follows Joel (Jason Bateman), the owner of a flavor extract factory, as he experiences various disasters in his personal and professional lives. As his home life falls apart, an unfortunate workplace accident puts his business in jeopardy. In an effort to rectify the situation, Joel turns to Dean (Ben Affleck), his irresponsible best friend. Dean’s less-than-helpful guidance — a gigolo, a con artist and a single ketamine pill — lead Joel along a wacky path of destruction and mild hilarity. The script has its moments, but leaves the audience craving the neverending laughs of “Office Space.” “Extract” is entertaining enough in the theater, but wouldn’t hold one’s attention in a dorm or living room. In the style of “American Pie,” its slapstick humor clashes with a subtler variety in the vein of “Arrested Development.” While both types of jokes provide laughs, the combination is jumpy and inconsistent, as though Judge doesn’t know his audience. Some characters are recycled from Judge’s older works, while others are caricatures of working-class America. Bateman, Kristen Wiig and Mila Kunis are convincing, but audiences have seen these characters before. Bateman plays a carbon copy of “Arrested Development’s” Michael Bluth and Wiig seems like she is still playing a quirky suburban housewife on “SNL.”Affleck, conversely, takes a new turn as a slacker bartender and adds refreshing humor to the film. It’s a novel role for Affleck, and he consistently pleases. The lesser-known actors almost outshine the more famous leads. Clifton Collins, Jr., Dustin Milligan and Beth Grant all create laughs, while David Koechner plays Joel’s annoying neighbor perfectly.Despite good performances and a decent script, “Extract” falls into some typical dry-humor traps. Judge uses silence to heighten the awkward humor, but it occasionally slows the movie. Because of this, the numerous jokes feel few and far between.While “Extract” has a soundtrack, it is poorly used. A shot of Joel driving, for example, lacks backing music and desperately needs it. Tighter editing and better use of the soundtrack would serve to keep the audience entertained. If you’re flush for cash, go and see this movie. It could be a fun way to spend an afternoon or evening. Otherwise, it’s probably not worth your $8.75. Though it has drawbacks, most audiences can extract some entertainment from this flick.