Sunday, September 20, 2009

Review of Extract

Extract is Mike Judge’s follow-up to the massively successful cult hit Office Space which came out 10 years ago. It’s told much in the same style so high praise should go to this guy for being able to establish himself as an auteur (in my book at least) within just two films. This is someone who has so many interesting connections between his two films that I’m happy to sit here exploring them and eagerly await his next project. The Office and Extract are sharp satires that holds no punches at the banality of working-class life even if it means painting the world as a pretty bleak place. Some really effective film comedies take you to places you’d love to live in: the free-wheeling madness of an academic’s life gone awry in Wonderboys, the small-town warm of Junebug, the music-filled self-discovery joyfests of Cameron Crowe’s films are good examples. Others like the TV show Weeds, Amrican Beauty, Good Girl, Napoleon Dynamite, Garden State, or Office Space (and this film) shine a light on the emptiness of suburban, corporate, or small-town life. The latter approach can be far more depressing than a comedy should be and can end up more like a Douglas Sirk melodrama than a comedy sometimes.

Office Space and Extract, however, avoids falling off the deep end, by making them stories of redemption for their main characters. In fact, Extract is a story that’s not necessarily notable for being funny. It has a little bit of humor and a few gags, but what drew me in was just that it had interesting characters. I’d be concerned that people would judge the film where it falls short. As a film, however, it’s terrific.

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