Close your eyes while watching Extract and you might mistake it for a cartoon. That's the beauty behind all of director Mike Judge's films: The creator of Beavis and Butt-Head deals mostly in archetypes, sometimes outrageous ones, giving his characters just enough humanity to keep us watching.
Take Joel (Jason Bateman), whose life resembles nothing so much as that of a grown-up Charlie Brown. His version of kicking the football is trying to sleep with his wife (Kristen Wiig), only for it to be snatched away from him at the last second each night when she puts on her sweatpants. Article continues below
Outside of his sexless marriage, Joel is the owner of a flavor-extract plant operated by a league of extraordinarily dysfunctional employees. Step (Clifton Collins Jr.), the team's most competent worker, lost his testicles during a freak accident. Mary (Beth Grant), a 50-something bottle inspector, refuses to lift a finger if any of her co-workers stop to take a breather. And Cindy (Mila Kunis), the new temp, is a smoky-eyed grifter who uses her looks to rob everyone blind.
True to form, Joel fails spectacularly each time he tries to deal with a situation at work. Heeding the advice of his drug-obsessed bartender friend Dean (Ben Affleck) may be part of his problem. Joel, like many other men, has fallen under Cindy's spell, and wishes to have an affair. Dean's suggestion? Hire a male prostitute to seduce and sleep with Joel's wife, which will make cheating fair game. Joel takes the bait, but only after downing an elephant tranquilizer provided by his friend.
Joel, Dean, and subsequently Brad (Dustin Milligan), the gigolo hired for the job, offer enough laughs to keep Extract moving. But Kunisís depthless performance is a real handicap, especially since her character is supposed to be so disruptive, wreaking havoc on anyone who stares at her for more than a few seconds. The movie's resolution requires ridding Cindy from the plant, and while Kunis' one-dimensional performance makes this strangely satisfying, her casting feels like a miscalculation in an otherwise effective comedy.