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Featured Blu-ray review - Extract

December 17th, 2009

Extract - Buy from Amazon: DVD or Blu-ray

Mike Judge has not had an easy time at the box office. His only film that you could call a real hit was Beavis and Butt-head Do America, and that came out more than a decade ago. Office Space barely made a dent at the box office, but it became a major cult hit on the home market. Idiocracy barely made it to theaters at all, but it too found a more favorable reception on the home market. That brings us to Extract, which was released in just 1,600 theaters in September. Needless to say, it was not a major box office hit. But was this a result of poor marketing or weak studio support? Did it deserve better and will it find an audience on the home market? Or will this be a film that even fans of Mike Judge would rather forget?

Jason Bateman leads the ensemble cast as Joel Reynold, the head of Reynold's Extract. He's not exactly satisfied at work and he and his second in command, Brian, seem more interested in selling the company and retiring. He's also not satisfied with his marriage, as he and his wife, Suzie, haven't had sex in more than a month. He vents these frustrations at a local bar where he used to be a bartender and is friends with Dean, who bartends there now. He clearly is not happy with his life, but he doesn't have the personal fortitude to really change things. He finally gets that opportunity after an accident at work causes one of his employees to nearly become a eunuch, which sets of a chain of events, starting with the arrival of a con-woman, Cindy, but that includes an ambulance-chasing lawyer, a gigolo, and others.

The comedy has a very familiar feel, which is both a good thing and a bad thing. On the one hand, it deals with subjects that most people can easily associate with, including idiot co-workers, dysfunctional relationships, etc. It also definitely has a Mike Judge sensibility to it, and if you liked his previous work, you will likely laugh at a lot of this film as well. On the other hand, there's not a lot here that challenges. Its jabs are not as sharp as they were in Office Space, nor is the social message as important as it was in Idiocracy. It has more than enough jokes that land, very funny situations, and an excellent cast, and it is worth checking out. However, it doesn't have the replay value of his previous work. It is the kind of movie you can watch for 90-some minutes and enjoy, but won't be quoting the next day.

I only have the Blu-ray, but according to the back of the box, about half the extras are exclusive to this edition. Things start with an 11-minute making-of featurette that is comprised of talking heads, clips from the movie, and behind-the-scenes footage. There are also six deleted and extended scenes, but they run only five minutes combined. Additionally, the extended scenes are mostly what we see in the movie, so the combined running time of the extensions is one, maybe two minutes. These deleted / extended scenes are exclusive to the Blu-ray edition, which is strange, as they are presented in Standard Definition. Looking at the technical specs of the movie itself, they are passable, but little more. The film cost less than $10 million to make, so one should not be dismayed that the video is not as sharp as it would be with high budget blockbusters, while the dialogue-driven movie rarely makes use of surround sound. Again, it is on par with expectations. It does cost roughly 30% more than the DVD, which is a little higher than I would like for this type of release. After all, this is not a movie you need to see in High Definition to appreciate.

Extract never had high expectations at the box office and it continued the string of box office disappointments for Mike Judge. That said, the film is worth checking out, but I can't be too enthusiastic in my recommendation. Call it a solid rental, leaning toward a purchase. Neither the DVD nor the Blu-ray are significantly better in terms of purchasing value.

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