Thursday, September 10, 2009

"Extract" - spoiler movie review

When I heard about "Extract" and that it was a movie about a company that makes vanilla extract, I wasn't interested. And then I saw the one-sheet and saw that the film was made by Mike Judge, whose name I recognize, but I don't watch the shows and films that he makes, so I had no feeling for him one way or the other.

So what made me want to see this film? OK, I'll admit it - it was because Mila Kunis was in it. I only know "Family Guy" because the husband watches it, so I'll sometimes hear parts of an episode from the other room, and I know that the daughter on the show is named Meg.

And then the husband and I saw "Forgetting Sarah Marshall", and I found out that the woman who plays the new romantic interest is the same person who voices Meg. Really? No way? She doesn't look like she should be voicing Meg. But, duh, she's a voice actress so her "voice" wouldn't necessarily be exactly the same as her real voice. I really liked her in that film, so when I saw that she was in this film, and this film had gotten some good word from some people I've gotten good info from about other films, I decided I wanted to see it.

This is definitely a quirky, art house film, and I absolutely loved it. The story was small and simple but interesting and engaging. And the performances all around were excellent.

Joel is the owner of a small company that makes a couple of different flavors of extract, and he's got a little assembly line shop that he oversees. His workers are varied (and sometimes petty), and he often has to mediate disputes. He also has a manager who isn't particularly good at people skills (he doesn't really know the names of the employees but just refers to them by a disparaging term), but a work-place accident which results in the injury of one of his employees sets in motion more than he bargained for. Joel is already dealing with a large conglomerate offering to buy him out, which he hopes for so that he can spend more time with his now-distant wife (the bit with the time and sweat pants was hilarious). However, the accident brings to town grifter Cindy (can you imagine why I giggled at that name?), who wants a piece of the settlement from the injured worker. She's also working Joel, who dreams about having an affair with his new hot temp and at the prodding of a questionable friend, he decides to try to arrange for his wife to have an affair so that he doesn't have to feel guilty about cheating. Plans made during a drunken, drugged state look much less pleasant in the cold, sober light of day, but his attempts to stop the plans are futile when he finds out that his wife very willingly let herself be seduced. Joel now has huge problems at home and at the company to solve, not to mention his insanely irritating neighbor, which was funny to watch, but everyone can relate to knowing someone as completely clueless as he was.

Jason Bateman was really terrific in this film as Joel, though I'll admit I still have some problem seeing him as an adult, even though I did love his work in "Juno". It's really his movie to carry, and he does an excellent job of that.

J.K. Simmons is hilarious as Joel's crass manager, and he's also in "Jennifer's Body", so I look forward to seeing him again.

Ben Affleck is quite good and quite convincing (looking very much *not* like his usual self) as Joel's questionable friend, and the cast that fills out the employees in the company are also very good. Dustin Milligan plays Brad, the two-tacos-short-of-a-combo-plate gigolo that Joel hires to seduce his wife, and he is absolutely hysterical in this film. I couldn't pinpoint why he looked familiar, but it was the husband who figured out that he plays Ethan on the new incarnation of "90210".

And yeah, Mila Kunis was good in this movie, but she really didn't have that big a part in the film.

And then we get to the person who played sleazy lawyer Joe Adler. I'd seen the person's credit during the opening sequence, but when he actually showed up, the husband and I laughed so hard during his scenes. Gene Simmons was funny as hell in this part, especially in his major scene about how they'd call it even if Joel was willing to let him slam his balls in the door. That's not usually my kind of humour, but this was just perfect. Whoever came up with the idea of getting Gene Simmons to do this part - BRAVO!

This was a wonderful little film - a definite recommend.

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