Wednesday, February 4, 2009


About: This edgy comedy - the third from Mike Judge - supposedly stars Ben Affleck. I must be the bearer of bad news however. Affleck is not the one who gets his balls chopped off.
Writer: Mike Judge

Poor little Mike Judge. The marketing campaign for possibly the funniest movie ever had exactly one laugh in it, and from a character who didn’t even have a minute of screentime (“My “oh” face”). About 12 people showed up to Office Space before it became a phenomenon on home video. Then a thousand years go by and we hear rumblings about a second Judge film set in the future! Cool! However when the film is released, it is done so without even a POSTER! I have seen many things in my life. But I have never seen a studio so dislike a film that they didn’t even spend money on a poster. Idiocracy was no Office Space but it was fun. The problem with the film was that we didn’t know what edit we were watching, the studio's or Mike's. All I remember thinking was, "Mike Judge is never going to make another movie again."

But the movie Gods have smiled down upon us. "Extract" or, as it should be called, “The Ball Chopping Off Movie", is about a man, JOEL, who’s on the verge of selling his Extract company for a cool mil, when a factory accident “extracts” one of his worker’s balls. Just when it seems like the worker is fine with the insurance settlement, in comes CINDY, a super hot con girl, to encourage him to sue the company. Joel goes from potentially having it all, to potentially losing everything.

It's in the first few pages that we see why Judge is such a master. His character despcriptions couldn't be better if he had drawn you a sketch. Here's one of STEP, the poor soul who gets one of his testicles severed. How bout this description?

“Talking to Hector is STEP, a short, beady-eyed Charles-Manson-looking guy with a beard and mustache. Step is in his forties. He makes everything he says sound as macho and important as possible.”

Here is a completely unique character, someone I’ve never seen before, and yet I know exactly who he is. Who does this better than Judge?

The irony is thick, as even though STEP's the one who's had his testical severed, it's Joel who doesn't have any balls. Back at home his wife won't have sex with him. And when Cindy (who's working all the angles) comes on to Joel, in order for him to not feel bad about cheating on his wife, he hires a local gigolo to seduce her. If she has sex with him, he won’t feel bad about cheating on her. The gigolo, an airhead named BRAD, falls in love with Joel's wife, and starts coming over to have sex every day. When a furious Joel finds out, he confronts Brad, who insists not to worry. He won’t charge him for the extra sex. Joel refuses to allow Brad to have sex with his wife for free, and so continues to pay him. haha.

It's all fucking hilarious. And Judge adds a dearth of memorable characters. Joel's annoying neighbor who never takes no for an answer. His best friend Dean who thinks every problem can be solved with a pill (and has access to all of them). The 40-something factory worker still holding onto his dream of being a rockstar. It's the kind of stuff that makes you jealous when you think about your own comedy scripts.

The problem with the movie is that it peaks too early. The height of the story is the moment when Joel realizes his wife is cheating on him, he might go bankrupt, and that he’s not going to have sex with Cindy. The tension is built up beautifully to that point. But from then on, everything deflates like a punctured balloon, of which you can actually hear the air escape.

It’s too bad because Extract was fast becoming my favorite script of the year. That’s not to say it still isn’t hilarious. And since Judge is the director, I’m sure he’ll be tweaking it right up to production. But nothing is ever as interesting as when those three things come to a head.

The only other knock I have is that Judge tends to make his leads huge pussies. And I understand that's a theme he's exploring here. But at a certain point you wanna grab Joel by the shoulders, shake him, and scream, "Stand up for yourself!"

The ultimate irony, of course, is that Judge has lost his balls somewhere along the way too. He's the one who keeps letting these producers and studios walk all over him, and as a result we get movies without posters. It could be that this script is a reflection of that, and if it is, well then I'm sorry, but we won't be seeing Judge stand up anytime soon. I hope he does though. And Extract could be the movie that gives him the clout to do so. Cause it could be a classic. Even with Ben Affleck in the lead.

[ ] trash
[ ] barely kept my interest
[ ] worth the read
[x] impressive
[ ] genius

What I learned from Extract: Don’t be afraid to tell us who your characters are, even if it takes a few extra lines. “Handsome and likable” doesn’t cut it for all your leads. Sorry.