The Review at a Glance: (max score: 5 )
Audio/Video total rating:
( Max score: 100 )
Studio and Year: Miramax - 2009
MPAA Rating: R
Feature running time: 92 minutes
Disc Format: BD-25
Encoding: AVC (MPEG-4)
Video Aspect: 1.85:1
Audio Format(s): English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1, French Dolby Digital 5.1
Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish
Starring: Jason Bateman, Ben Affleck, Kristin Wiig, Mila Kunis, J.K. Simmons, Clifton Collins Jr., David Koechner
Written & Directed by: Mike Judge
Music by: George S. Clinton
Region Code: A
Blu-ray Disc release Date: December 22, 2009
"An off the wall comedy about life in the not so fast lane"
Joel Reynolds (Jason Bateman) is sitting pretty. With a beautiful wife, a comfortable home and the almost finalized acquisition by General Mills of the culinary extracts business he has built with his loyal lieutenant Brian (J.K. Simmons), Joel seems to have it all. Except his wife is about as interested in him as she is in her career (supermarket coupon design), his employees want a piece of the pie and the sweet young thing with designs on him (Mila Kunis) is really a wily con-artist. On the advice of a drug-addled confidante (Ben Affleck), Joel cooks up a scheme to cheat with impunity by hiring a gigolo to seduce his wifeonly to discover the young object of his affection is behind a lawsuit by long-time employee Step (Clifton Collins,
Jr.) that will scotch the General Mills deal and leave Joel penniless. The best-laid plans unravel with hilarious results in this off-the wall comedy about life in the not-so-fast lane.
Joel (Bateman) is a successful businessman with a beautiful home and wife but the luster has gone from their relationship. He and his wife Suzie (Wiig) are in a predominantly sexless marriage which frustrates him. Joel rushes home after work every night but rarely makes it before she dons her rope tied, signal sending sweat pants which means don't bother making any sexual advances. Things at work aren't much better as there is dissention among his disgruntled employees. After one of them is accidentally injured at work his impeding lawsuit threatens a potential offer from General Mills to buy the company which would set Joel and his partner Brian (J.K. Simmons) for life. Other than that life around the extract plant is pretty dull until they hire an attractive temp named Cindy (Kunis) who immediately draws the attention of everyone, including Joel. After she shows an interest in him Joel considers becoming romantically involved with her. He confides this to his burnt out, bar tending buddy Dean (Affleck). He is hesitant because of his marriage but concedes that things haven't been good for a long time. Dean tells him he should go for it and that his wife would probably do the same if the opportunity presented itself. Dean concocts the idea of sending a gigolo pretending to be a pool boy to Joel's house to test his theory and Joel reluctantly agrees figuring his wife would never take the bait. Meanwhile unbeknownst to Joel, Brian or any of the employees at the plant, Cindy is concocting plans of her own and is an opportunist/con-artist that has set her sights on a big payday at their expense. Things unravel quickly when Joel figures out that Cindy has ulterior motives and that Suzie may be more of a player than he thinks.
After seeing the trailer for this film and the fact that it was written and directed by Mike Judge (Office space) I thought it looked promising. Unfortunately the trailer pretty much highlighted the best moments. The story is ineffectual and rarely engaging as I found the majority of the humor to feel forced. The script lacks depth and creativity but most of all the ability to elicit laughter. Character development is poor which makes it hard to appreciate the interplay between them. I think that more focus on the relationship between Joel and his life at home may have proven fruitful. The insipid thing between his wife and the gigolo didn't add anything of substance, nor did the brief interaction with the annoying neighbor although there was potential there. I liked the idea of the beautiful and seductive con-artist, played just fine by the always attractive Mila Kunis, but even that ventured off in too many directions and never really took hold. The most likeable character, Brian, played by the very capable J.K. Simmons had very little screen time which was a shame. Ben Affleck was completely wrong for this part which in my opinion served as a distraction more than anything else. His attempts at being convincing as a burnt out, pill popping, joint toking, long haired, beard wearing hippy type failed miserably. I like both Jason Bateman and Kristin Wiig and was glad to see her get a decent sized part, too bad this didn't give her something better to work with. The film isn't a total loss and offers its share of typical spoofs and standard fare humor that genre fans may appreciate. Personally I found it disappointing and lacking in comedic stature.
The rating is for language, sexual references, and some drug use.
AUDIO/VIDEO - By The Numbers:
REFERENCE = 92-100 / EXCELLENT = 83-91 / GOOD = 74-82 / AVERAGE = 65-73 / BELOW AVERAGE = under 65
**My audio/video ratings are based upon a comparative made against other high definition media/blu-ray disc.**
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)
- Low frequency extension:
- Surround Sound presentation:
- Dialogue Reproduction:
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)
- Black level/Shadow detail:
- Color reproduction:
Extract comes to Blu-ray Disc from Miramax/Disney featuring 1080p AVC encoded video that has an average bitrate of 22 mbps and lossless DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio sound that has an average bitrate of 3.5 mbps.
This video presentation offers little in the way of highly polished, razor sharp images that resemble the best that high definition has to offer on Blu-ray but it seems to represent the film's elements well. Primary colors are tonally satisfying with deep reds and an inviting palette that mates well with the film's subject matter. Complexions are texturally revealing with natural coloring that varies among the cast. Resolution is good but softer definition leaves the mid level and wide angle views appearing less resolvable in terms of fine detail. Close ups are more revealing of subtle refinement but lack defining clarity. Blacks are not especially deep but I thought that they stood out nicely when onscreen with mixed content. Contrast can be uneven but empowers colors and brighter elements without negatively impacting overall fidelity. Grain is evident and appears in even layers that are naturally rendered throughout. The DTS-HD MA sound quality is fair but a bit disappointing for a newer film like this. It delivers a one dimensional, front oriented and undistinguished audio presentation. Dialogue is centrally focused with lucid intonation and requisite clarity. Surround activity is limited to subtle ambience that occasionally offers some spatial dimension that broadens the sound field. Low frequency presence is intermittent and primarily supports the films music. I found this to be an adequate yet underwhelming surround mix.
- (HD) Mike Judge's secret recipe - 11 minute featurette
- 5 extended scenes
- 1 deleted scene
Extract is a bland comedy that falls below the pedigree of both its director and cast. While it does offer a few hollow laughs they aren't enough to elevate it to a conspicuously entertaining level. It comes from Buena Vista/Disney in a middling Blu-ray offering that features only fair audio/video quality and a sub par set of bonus supplements. If you're curious give it a rent otherwise I would say wait until it makes its way onto to cable TV.
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