½*/**** Image B- Sound B Extras D+
starring Jason Bateman, Mila Kunis, Kristen Wiig, Ben Affleck
written and directed by Mike Judge
by Ian Pugh It's fitting that Mike Judge's latest film, a pale imitation of a past success that endeavours to capture its essence with a bare minimum of the same charm and profundity, should be titled Extract. Perhaps it's not entirely fair to say that Judge's Office Space achieved cult status for its portrayal of nine-to-five banality even though it's actually about a wayward asshole who used that banality as an excuse to become a lazy, belligerent thief. Nevertheless, with Extract, Judge essentially confirms he thinks you liked Office Space for its company setting--and now, ten years later, he responds in kind. Work is hell in Judge's world, and hell is other people. Although Judge is at his best when he's telling you what you don't want to hear--that teenagers are capable of some pretty vile things, that the presence of a work ethic might override your distaste for the work itself, that anti-intellectualism is going to be the death of American culture--at the precise moment you don't want to hear it, in Extract he says nothing provocative beyond the occasional attempt at sucker-punching the viewer with politically-incorrect comedy that stopped being subversive around a decade ago. (Coincidence?) It's impossible to say where the shock or amusement is supposed to come from at the sight of Ben Affleck (another remnant of the P.C. '90s and its reactionary counterculture), gussied up to look like Arlo Guthrie as he curses, deals drugs, and smokes out of ridiculous bongs.