IN EXTRACT—the new film from Office Space director Mike Judge—Ben Affleck has a terrible beard. I mean, really terrible. It's the kind of beard one usually sees in a community theater production of Chekhov, or perhaps glued to the chin of a fourth grader pretending to be Abraham Lincoln. However, fans of Affleck will be pleased to know that—despite his terrible, awful beard (and it really is quite distressingly flawed)—he steals the show, which is a feat considering he plays opposite a stellar cast that includes Jason Bateman, Kristen Wiig, J.K. Simmons, and the heartbreakingly gorgeous (and boner-inducing) Mila Kunis. It's too bad he's a secondary character.
Bateman leads the cast as Joel, the owner of a small-town extract plant (which makes almond, vanilla, and root beer flavoring). Sexually unsatisfied with his wife (Wiig) and bored with his company, Joel becomes smitten (and boner-fied) by gorgeous grifter Cindy (Kunis) who concocts a scheme to rob the employees and collect a huge settlement from a one-testicled man. It's the sort of story you've heard or seen a billion times—except for maybe the "one-testicled man" part.
The ho-hum plot is repeatedly revived, however, thanks to the weirdly bearded Affleck, who pulls off a performance that is nothing short of Lebowski-esque. Affleck plays Dean, Joel's doped up/spaced-out best pal, who convinces the stuck-up Joel to (a) hire the dumbest gigolo in the world to sleep with his wife, (b) take a horse tranquilizer, and (c) smoke the world's largest bong with a borderline psychopath. The result is a huge laugh every time Affleck opens his mouth.
The rest of the cast and storyline doesn't fare as well. Bateman is, unsurprisingly, excellent (as long as you don't mind that he's playing his same character from Arrested Development) and Kunis is suitably boner-ific, if otherwise uninteresting. In fact, there's not a bad performance in the house, but one can only do so much with a lackluster story that practically dares the audience to care about its characters. Instead of a new and original work, Extract plays more like Mike Judge's "greatest hits," mashing King of the Hill (small town eccentrics and foibles!) and Office Space (the monotony of workplace politics!). All in all, Extract is mostly enjoyable, refreshingly brief, and if nothing else, it has the brilliant Affleck. And that terrible, terrible beard.