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It Brings out the Laughs

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars.

Mike Judge is one of those guys who everyone knows, but he’s still somewhat of a cult phenomenon. Perhaps best known for "Beavis and Butthead", grunge era’s greatest adolescent comedy duo, he’s also responsible for "King of the Hill" (which recently ended its thirteen-year run). While his TV record has been more consistent, his film career hasn’t quite taken off. Office Space only took off on DVD and Idiocracy was barely released. But with Extract it seems as if he may finally have a hit.

Once again set in the workplace, a factory this time, we’re introduced to Joel (Jason Bateman) who actually has a passion for what he does. He makes extract -- vanilla, cherry, root beer and a number of other flavors. Of course, no one shares his passion until Cindy (Mila Kunis), the hot new temp comes along. If only Joel knew that she’s actually a small time crook feigning interest in order to get closer to a recently injured worker and push him towards a lawsuit. Joel already feels as if he’s in a lost marriage, completely devoid of sex, and thinks Cindy could be his path to happiness.

With the help of his drug addled, bartender friend Dean (Ben Affleck) he manages to turn a fantasy into a disaster. In what turns out to be one of Affleck’s best onscreen performances in a long time, the constantly optimistic yet misleading Dean is the fuel for Joel’s downfall. Dean’s gigolo friend Brad (Dustin Milligan) also steals quite a few scenes when he’s hired by a drug-induced Joel to seduce his wife, Suzie (Kristen Wiig). The Dean-approved plan is supposed to leave Joel feeling guilt-free to pursue Cindy, but the plan unsurprisingly backfires. Heap on top of that the impending lawsuit and Joel’s life has gone from idyllic to catastrophic.

The charm of Mike Judge is that he’s not in your face like Todd Phillips (The Hangover) and yet he’s not as sentimental as Judd Apatow. Extract is a light hearted and funny movie. It doesn’t try to impress and it doesn’t exceed its reach. It’s just a solid, good-natured comedy.