Sunday, September 13, 2009


Let’s all take a moment and appreciate Jason Bateman.

He’s one child star that didn’t go all Todd Bridges on us. Instead, he kept fighting, hooked onto a hugely influential sitcom (Arrested Development), and now has carved out a burgeoning movie career in Juno etc. as a dependable wisecracker.

For being in the spotlight so long, it’s strange that he would have such a gift for onscreen Everymanhood. But it’s hard to argue the evidence. His vulnerable sarcasm is the only thing that keeps afloat Mike Judge;s otherwise soggy Extract. It’s not quite enough to save the movie, it at least sticks the finger in the dyke.

Bateman’s priceless reactions are refreshment in a film that is otherwise draining.. Joel, the owner of an extract manufacturer ready to sell to Big Food, runs thorugh his share of professional and domestic mayhem. Whethergetting punched out by a social reprobate or going on tor hiring pool boys to seduce his distant wife, the film has plenty of mayhem.

Judge fills out the rest of the time with the “quirky” characters that come and go from the factory. Mainly they seem like the people whose auditions were rejected from other Mike Judge projects – some blue-hairs from King of the Hill, a stoned, not-too-smart rocker for Beavis and Butthead, etc. Say this for Judge, he can write a funny line for anybody. But he forgets to make us care a whit about them.

For a film with such a cynical view of its characters (not one ever makes the right choice.), it completely wimps out and goes sweet at the end. It looks like he might hit the road with Milan Kunis’ gravelly thief on a multi-state criminal spree. Nooooo. Instead he goes back to the factory, makes amends, and starts lining up the inexplicable and undeserved soft landing.

No comments: