MIKE JUDGE'S "Extract" didn't make much of a commercial splash, but it's getting some Top 10 list love and a few honorable mentions.
"Extract," which hits DVD this week, is a more mature version of Judge's legendary workplace comedy "Office Space" - the latter written when he was at the bottom of the workplace food chain.
"I don't watch my movies very often, but I saw 'Office Space' at a 10-year anniversary thing some time ago, and looking at it, I remember feeling it was a good deal angrier than I wanted it to be," said Judge, who of course is also the noted animator of "King of the Hill" and "Beavis and Butthead."
"I was just pointing out what was wrong, without having any idea what to do about it," he said.
When he set out to write another workplace comedy, he wanted something with a little more sympathy for the folks in management.
"At some point, I realized I'm way too old to be complaining about the man keeping me down," said Judge, whose success had also elevated him to ranks of management. As movie director or TV producer, he's running the show, and has learned to view the man in the cubicle in a whole new way.
"When 'Beavis and Butthead' became a hit show, I instantly had this baptism of fire, and went from never having anybody work for me - I mowed my own lawn - to suddenly having 30 or as many as 90 animators working for me."
Most were fine, but there were a few Buttheads in the mix. Perhaps it fed the dystopian side of Judge, who during that time wrote the script for "Idiocracy," a movie predicting that ignorance will overtake and consume U.S. culture.
"Extract," though, is a less accusing work. It's the self-critical story of a factory owner and manager (Jason Bateman) who has a nice business and marriage, but is nonetheless restless.
He romances a foxy new employee (Mila Kunis), and decides to sell his successful business, with an eye toward some ill-defined life of leisure. "Extract" is a different, more grown-up movie, because it focuses on Bateman's selfish, distracted flaws. If his business starts to fail, it's because he's ignoring it, and not merely because the workers revolt . . . or are revolting.
"For sure, one of things I wanted to get across is that this guy had a pretty good thing going, and that he got off course with this idea of going for the jackpot," Judge said.
The movie is foremost a goofy, ramshackle comedy (Ben Affleck has a funny role as an enabling bartender), but it's weirdly resonant, given the myopia and greed that has transformed and nearly destroyed our economy.
"Everybody seems to have a sense of entitlement that's out of whack," Judge said. "That's one reason why I wanted to do this, to tell a story about a guy who actually makes something. I've had all kinds of jobs, and the most satisfying are the jobs when I actually manufactured something tangible."