The Vintage Revisits: Extract

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What made Office Space resonate so well with audiences was its ability to recreate a specific working class environment that many could relate to. My mother who dislikes most comedies, loves Office Space despite its crass humor and harsh language. Aspects she would usually despises were over looked because of the familiar world Mike Judge recreated focused on the minutiae of a cubical job. Extract attempts to do the same in a blue collar factory setting. This film excels when you’re on the factory floor of this extract plant with its colorful employees like the judgmental assembly liner Mary (Beth Grant) or oblivious metalhead Rory (TJ Miller). This atmosphere is realistic and entertaining but where it falters compared to Office Space it lacks a strong A-story line in that I can’t really even explain to you what that is or what this movie is saying.

The overall idea seems to be appreciate what you have. When Joel (Jason Bateman) the owner of this factory tries to extend his reach like selling the company or have an affair, things blow up in his face. It’s not as relatable to its blue collar audience as the perspective is coming from higher up management, a guy who lives in a nice house and can leave work whenever he wants. In Office Space’s Peter (Ron Livingston) is lowest on the totem pole and is constantly being pulled into working on a Saturday. What really throws this movie for a loop is Mila Kunis’ con artist hottie, Cindy. The film opens with a funny scene of her stealing a guitar from gawking music store employees played by Nick Thune and Hal Sparks. It seems like she is going to be our main character until we meet Joel and realize her perspective is not important and in general, she’s not around much. Cindy is more of a plot device pushing action forward like tempting men such as Joel to consider an affair or the recently injured in the work place simpleton Step (Clifton Collin Jr) than an actual person. She leaves the film quite abruptly, in the most unsatisfying and problematic way. I think Judge may to blame as the female characters in this film are not well written. Joel’s wife Suzie (Kristen Wiig) is a mostly nonentity which I was first fine with because the movie is Joel’s POV and because he’s sexually frustrated with his wife and spending his nights at a sports bar rather than with her it makes sense that she’d feel like an after thought. Then over halfway through the film when she has an affair of her own (somewhat orchestrated by Joel) she suddenly has agency and we have scenes just with her. The women only have importance when it comes to their sexuality and without it are quite useless or plain nagging if you’re an employee like Mary.

I didn’t want to think so critically about the film’s gender politics because it is a movie you can lean back and mindlessly enjoy. You get Ben Affleck as bar tender/drug dealer Dean or Dave Koechner’s nosey neighbor Nathan to have fun with. I wish the film just had clearer story lines. For a film where a major plot point is that Suzie sleeps with the gigolo (Dustin Milligan) for most of it, you aren’t really convinced she did. The way Judge shoots it, never seeing them together makes you assume it’s that movie trope where it’s all a mix up and the dumb gigolo slept with a different woman but when it is confirmed by us seeing Suzie break it off, it gives the film all new context. The film introduces too many characters and story lines to keep up with (I haven’t even mentioned Gene Simmons) and then ties it all up to neatly at the end. It doesn’t come close to the simplistic brilliance of Office Space but not much can. If you wanna kill some time watching Bateman and Affleck, there’s worse things you could do.

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