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by Laura G. Brown





[]  If you're a fan of Mike Judge (Beavis and Butthead, King of the Hill, Office Space), you'll probably like Extract for Judge's wry humor and astute social commentary, which spice up his goofball comedy like a dash of the vanilla and cherry flavorings his protagonist manufactures.

In a September 4, 2009 Pasadena Star-News interview, Judge says he took the boss's view in Extract, because when he first made Beavis and Butthead, he suddenly found himself with over 30 people working for him. He felt taken advantage of, and remembers feeling "God, these people don't appreciate anything."

Joel (Jason Bateman) is the sympathetic boss managing a motley crew of assembly line workers. Well, maybe Motley Crue isn't the best rock band comparison since KISS's Gene Simmons shows up later in a memorable cameo role.




Although these workers (in the SAT 10th percentile group) have trouble constructing a grammatical sentence, they still manage to accuse Joel of selling out to a big company, and they demand a piece of the pie. They arbitrarily halt the production line, resulting in a Rube Goldberg chain of events, which climaxes in a cringingly comedic worker injury, and snowballs into a liability lawsuit.

Actress Mila Kunis enters the picture as a ravishing, larcenous vamp who wants to milk the plaintiff and his fledgling lawsuit for all she can get. She's aided and abetted by Gene Simmons as an over-the-top poseur lawyer, replete with KISS hair.

The lawsuit and disgruntled workers weigh heavily on Joel, who comes home every night to a chatty neighbor straight out of Fargo, and a wife who refuses to sleep with him. In desperation, he gives an ear to Dean, Ben Affleck's hilarious pothead bartender. Dean's scheme to shake up Joel's marriage is juvenile and cartoonish, but it's funny to see straight, earnest Joel getting into late night scrapes in his cotton Dockers.





Extract delivers a few insights with its slapstick humor. For instance, that workers who hold out for everything they want, like Joel's extract bottlers, or GM workers who used to make Pontiac cars, may end up with no job at all.

Another well-made point, played out in convincing detail here, is how liability lawsuits, fueled by unethical attorneys, can grind a small business to a halt.

Finally, we get the message that a business extracts a lot from its owner. He creates it, shapes it, coddles it, learns from its mistakes, refines it, and keeps it going. He delivers something that people want, and provides a livelihood to the people who produce it. For this contribution, he deserves the respect of society and of his workers, rather than having his profits "extracted" from him.



Laura G. Brown is a teacher and writer living in San Gabriel, CA. She is a veteran candidate for State Assembly on the Libertarian Party of California.

Her email: lauragbrown at sbcglobal dot net.


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