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Despite a hilarious Affleck, ‘Extract’ belongs to Bateman



Published: Thu, September 3, 2009 @ 12:00 a.m.

By Roger Moore

Mike Judge finds humor in the lone, sane person swimming against a tide of idiots.

That formula worked for umpteen years on “King of the Hill,” and it still works well enough in his workplace comedy “Extract.” Judge fills the screen with rubes, klutzes and jerks. Then he hurls them at poor Jason Bateman.

“Extract” is a real tour de force for Bateman, who finally has a big-screen role that plays to his “Arrested Development” strength — a guy dismayed at how moronic those around him can be. He plays Joel, a self-made man, a successful bottler of vanilla, almond and assorted other flavoring “extracts,” a guy who knows his employees, who range from infantile and delusional all the way to incompetent. But there’s hope. General Mills might take the company off his hands.

There’s less hope at home. Each day Joel races there from work or the sports bar at the Marriott Courtyard, where Dean (Ben Affleck, hilarious), the stoner bartender, hears him whine about a wife (Kristen Wiig) who dons sweat pants each night at 8, taking sex off the evening’s itinerary.

If only he could cheat. If only she’d cheat first. A few drinks and an accidental horse tranquilizer later, Joel has let Dean hook him up with a dopey gigolo (Dustin Milligan, a hoot) who’ll tempt the missus to stray so Joel can cheat in peace. Until, that is, he sobers up and realizes what he has done.

Enter hot con-artist Cindy (Mila Kunis), who crosses Joel’s path when the inevitable workplace accident disables the redneck’s redneck, Step (Clifton Collins of “Capote”), whom Cindy figures she’ll sweet-talk into suing.

Judge filmed the workplace farce “Office Space” and created “Beavis and Butt-head,” worth keeping in mind as this semi-stoned romp wafts by. The story isn’t much, but the dolts in it are.

Affleck shines as Dean, who defends pot with, “It’s a not a drug, it’s a flower!” David Koechner’s maddeningly annoying neighbor scores laughs. But it is Bateman who carries this, suggesting the exhausted frustration of a man who can’t extract himself from the not-so-fine mess these fools have gotten him into.


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