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Trading Laugh Tracks for an R Rating

Extract (2009)

Sam Urdank/Miramax Films

“I am the Great Cornholio! I need T. P. for my bunghole!” What in the world ever happened to Mike Judge, who supplied such 1990s cultural milestones as MTV’s “Beavis and Butt-Head” and blazed the trail for the likes of Ricky Gervais with “Office Space” before dropping off the radar of popular culture? Perhaps only his most diehard fans were aware of the unceremonious release of 2006’s “Idiocracy,” which 20th Century Fox dumped onto about 100 screens without advertisements or trailers. No matter, Mr. Judge is back, and we have to settle for that sorry excuse for comedy known as bromance no longer.

While Mr. Judge’s new film, “Extract,” has the kind of juvenile humor one would naturally expect from the creator of “Beavis and Butt-Head,” it also evidences considerable maturity. The film serves up small-town Americana with observant deadpan humor, often recalling those hilariously absurd moments that mark Alexander Payne-Jim Taylor collaborations.

Jason Bateman plays Joel, owner of a food-flavoring manufacturing business who seems to have it all — except his wife (Kristen Wiig) rarely puts out. Ben Affleck steals scenes as a slacker barkeep straight out of Kevin Smith’s View Askew-niverse who first hooks the strait-laced Joel up with some serious drugs before convincing him to hire a himbo gigolo (Dustin Milligan) to seduce the missus so he can carry on his own affair guilt free.

Nothing about “Extract” is remotely predictable. The darn movie doesn’t try to pass itself off as something with a message. There is indeed a message if you look hard enough, but the film actually works so beautifully because Mr. Judge here retraces his TV roots. To be precise, “Extract” is the classic TV sitcom about restoring normalcy amid chaos. From “I Love Lucy” to “Married with Children” to “Everybody Loves Raymond,” nearly all TV sitcoms revolve around family members introducing changes that incite discord. Mr. Judge here does the same thing, except the changes are drastic and the discord devastating. There’s of course a wealth of material that would never make it past the F.C.C. Mr. Judge also offers some sharp social satire sorely lacking in the ubiquitous bromance genre. His triumphant return may be relatively minor, but it’s certainly well worth the wait.


Opens on Sept. 4 in the United States.

Written and directed by Mike Judge; director of photography, Tim Suhrstedt; edited by Julia Wong; music by George S. Clinton; production designer, Maher Ahmad; produced by Michael Rotenberg and John Altschuler; released by Miramax Films. Running time: 1 hour 29 minutes. This film is rated R.

WITH: Jason Bateman (Joel), Mila Kunis (Cindy), Kristen Wiig (Suzie), J. K. Simmons (Brian), David Koechner (Nathan), Clifton Collins Jr. (Step), Gene Simmons (Joe Adler), Dustin Milligan (Brad), Factory Worker (Javier Gutierrez) and Ben Affleck (Dean).


Whatever happened to him? Uh, he was working on King of the Hill, his prime-time show that ran for 13 seasons. He got a little busy!

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