In the grinding mundanity of the corporate workplace, people lose the will to challenge the beast they serve, strictly adhering to policies, politics, and propaganda’s of an uncaring business machine. Self preservation it seems, is a real bitch. Mike Judge’s Extract surprisingly explores this proverbial stripping of one’s balls, both literally and figuratively, within both the realm of management and the employee politic. Judge’s real coup is showing how one intrinsically needs the other in order to survive and grow, never an easy pitch to either side.
Judge is no stranger to the topic of workplace strife (Office Space has become the Citizen Kane of the sub-genre), but Extract expands its scope to include a number of interesting fringe characters circling the white collar world hoping to cash in on their malfeasance, both complicating and evolving the typical scenario of disgruntlement. Mila Kunis’ otherworldly con-woman Cindy and Gene Simmons’ abrasive civil lawyer Joe remain on the fringes of Judge’s story about an extract plant in transition, but they each represent this shift in Judge’s distinct iconography. Cindy maneuvers through the film like a tap dancing ghost, popping up in every character’s universe with a natural charm and graceful cunning. Simmons’ one extended scene stands out as a highlight of calculated debauchery, revealing how easy it can be to destroy collective moral for personal gain.
After the visionary absurdity of Idiocracy, it’s a bit sad to see Judge descend back to earth with such a simple narrative about everyday pitfalls. But Extract has plenty of joyous subversions at its core, relegating a very concise script around the devastating assumptions we make at the workplace and how they inevitably follow us home. Boredom and compromise are a part of daily life, but Judge sees a world where these subtle soul eaters can be warped into positives, stripped of their power by smart, confident, and ambitious people on both sides of the workplace trenches. When united under a common understanding of purpose, the workday seems to pass just a little bit faster.