©2009 Big Empire Industries and Randy Shandis Enterprises
Every right imaginable is reserved.


This week:

Filthy says:
"It's just not fucking funny, man."

Mike Judge, the creator of Beavis and Butthead and Office Space fancies himself a chronicler of the common man, or at least a guy who understands how fucking tedious and occasionally insipid life can be for people in the working class, a group also memorialized by literary lighthouses Huey Lewis , BTO and Upton Sinclair.

I was once working class. I'm pretty sure I'm bourgeois now, though. I learned that word from a French movie on IFC. It means you have a nice car and drink a lot of tea. Longtime readers remember when I worked at the Ralston Amoco, but got shitcanned when they said they were getting rid of the full service bay. Except they didn't get rid of full-service, they just hired this new dude and put up a bigass sign that said , "Now with Friendlier Service!!!" Yeah, three exclamation points. That was fucking bullshit. I could understand one. After all, I did piss in an Explorer's gas tank a few times. But three? It was like they were trying to personally insult me. Fuck them. I'm glad they had to close because their fuel tanks rusted out and seeped 10,000 gallons of unleaded into the water table. The taste makes me smile every time I have a glass from the faucet.

Then I had the job stocking shelves at the Family Dollar. That was pretty good, actually, because you got all the free ribbon candy you could eat, and with the employee discount flip-flops were only $1.60. I was working for Dipshit Suzanne and her grabby hands. She smelled like sweat and burnt meth. The Dollar is where I learned you can't sue your boss for sexual harassment if you get a hard-on when she shoves your hands down your pants. She told me so. It's also where I got wrongfully fired for stealing. Yeah, I was taking stuff, but they accused me of ripping off entirely different shit. That's wrong.

One fall, I worked briefly at a haunted maze, but they fired me at the end of October without even giving me a reason. When I think about it, that was a pretty shitty job. Chasing little kids with a bloody chainsaw is one of those things you should always do for love, never for money.

Currently, I don't work, because I'm bourgeois. Mine is a life of leisure, of daytime court TV shows, long baths, a few bottles of cough syrup and magazines scrounged out of the trash behind the tattoo shop. Mrs. Filthy pulls down serious coin as shift manager at Hancock Fabric. Enough to pay for the apartment, the dog, food and utilities most months. If I need to, I work with her twice a year making nine bucks an hour doing "inventory", which really means sleeping among the calico bolts while a bunch of ladies count buttons. Plus, I get like $15 a week from the Google Ads on the left hand side of this page. Seriously. Last week, it was like $20. That's enough for a student price matinee (I'm a student of life), and four Pabst Blue Ribbons on tap at Binker's Pub. And when I have time to drink a half-gallon of beer, I find time to skim a few sips off the other glasses at the bar while their owners are squeezing the spit out of their garden weasels.

What I'm saying is that since I now live a life of leisure I may no longer be the target audience for Mike Judge's movies. Maybe that's why I thought Extract mostly sucked. Of, course, it could also be that the movie just isn't any good.

Bateman is the successful owner of a small flavor-extract company. He dreams of selling out and retiring because, well, I don't know. Other times he talks about how much he loves extract science. His wife (Kristen Wiig) is a graphic designer who works at home and has frozen him out of sex through the use of sweatpants. Dude, Mrs. Filthy only wears sweatpants and they can be fucking hot. Especially the kind that bunch up around the waist. Oh, mama. At the beginning of the movie, this is Bateman's only complaint in life, that his wife shuts down if he isn't home by eight p.m.

His extract factory is populated by idiots. The forklift driver always crashes and plays in five separate death-metal bands. The line crew either complains too much or doesn't pay attention. J.K. Simmons plays Bateman's right-hand man, but I never got a sense of what his job was. He's supposed to be the other smart guy, but I never saw it. Hell, I never saw Bateman as smart. He makes bad decisions and he's easily influenced.

An accident at the factory leaves a worker (Clifton Collins ,Jr.) laid up and missing a ball. A lawsuit could break the company. Collins doesn't want to sue, though; he just wants to be floor manager. Once his nut heals, anyway. Into town comes a grifter played by Mila Kunis. She's a low-level criminal who sees the single-baller as her ticket to riches. Her plan is to sweet-talk him into suing, using a greasy bus-bench-ad lawyer to do it. Kunis also tries to seduce Bateman, for what reason beyond their first encounter I never understood. Because he's unhappy in his marriage and wants to bone her, Bateman wishes he could be free of his commitment to Wiig. Under the advice of his sleazy bartender (Ben Affleck) and the influence of a horse tranquilizer, he hires a dirt-dumb gigolo to fuck his wife so he won't feel guilty about thumping Kunis. That sets off a series of events that plays out in a sort of stunted slow-motion. It's part clumsy noir plotting and part missed-slapstick that Judge tries to elevate into something less-than funny.

The story doesn't make a lot of sense. It doesn't make sense that Kunis, as a con artist, would keep flirting with Bateman when she doesn't need to. The actions of almost every character happen without us ever understanding them well enough to believe they would do it. Kunis has a change of heart at movie's end that feels convenient to the plot, but insincere. Hell, most of it does, like a director is moving the pieces for whatever reason he wants.

Extract drags like a pegleg in a snowstorm. First, there are two stories that don't really fit together that well. First is the one of Bateman trying to justify his affair by getting a dude to shovel gorgonzola into his wife. Second is the one where a grifter tries to exploit an injured worker without regard to the workers at the company it would break. Probably the first one is better suited to how Judge tells stories. Even with the two storylines, though, the movie repeats itself and feels like there's not enough to fill 100 minutes. I can't count how many times the dumb gigolo repeats his "funny" line of asking for referrals to other chicks needing sex.

Bateman is a good character actor, but the sleepy nonchalance he brings to smaller roles doesn't help here. The guy just isn't that interesting or dynamic and the character is neither likeable or unlikeable. As he says a few times, he knows his life is boring. He's right, but acknowledging it doesn't change the fact. I also rarely feel sorry or moved by characters who choose their life path and then piss and moan that it's not what they wanted. If you're forced down a path, that's one thing. But Bateman's character is just a whiny bitch with a nice car and great house. He's having a fucking mid-life crisis and should buy a Harley, a bunch of leather and get a tattoo of some Chinese lettering on his arm.

Kunis is more cute than hot. She doesn't have the chops or the coldness to play a con artist. The role is written pretty thin anyway; she's given nothing to do but bat her eyes and steal stuff. This wouldn't be a good role for anyone since there's just not much there. But it would be better played by someone cold, calculating and with a fantastic rack. That Bateman is supposed to be a well-liked and intelligent guy and could fall so easily for her makes them both sort of icky.

I think what bummed me out most about Extract is that it just isn't funny. It's willfully unfunny. It's like it goes out of its way to make things sort-of-amusing-but-not-really. There's a few good gags, but jokes at the expense of a sleazy lawyer are nothing new. Hell, I think sleazy lawyers get bonked on the head with shit on Mexican sketch comedy. Maybe Judge thought he was making some important movie, or something more serious and so it couldn't have big, bold jokes. Whatever, a comedy without laughs is a slog.

Remember, though, I'm a bourgeois fuck. Its easy for me to say that Judge's idea of the boss man and his blue-collar workers is lame and undeveloped. That's what us assholes do. Two Fingers for Extract.

Want to tell Filthy Something?



Paul Fisher of Dark Horizons

Extract is "A wickedly funny film!"

In GI Joe: Rise of Cobra "Director Stephen Sommers has more than redeemed himself after Van Helsing with this fun-filled, adrenalin charged action film!"

Filthy's Reading
Philip Roth - Zuckerman Unbound

Listening to
Sonic Youth - Sonic Nurse


The Apple Dumpling Gang