Extract: * 3/4 (out of 4)
Mike Judge has a talent for finding a premise and running with it. Sometimes that premise turns out to be brilliant - positing a future where stupidity reigns supreme, or examining the mind of that creepy office guy in the background. More often, the premise is fairly dull - two idiots sitting around a television commenting on music videos, or just observing the regular office politics of a small technology firm. What's interesting about his work is that the quality of the premise does not predict the quality of the finished product. Once the running starts, Judge is not willing to nudge the story off of its path in order to find additional humor. It's an interesting method; when it it works well, but when it doesn't work, the result can be boring and arduous.
Extract, sadly, turned out to be in the latter category.
Perhaps the problem is the premise itself. There are three main points:
Joel runs a successful but quirky small factory business with a number of idiot employees.
Cindy is a hot con artist looking for a big score.
Dean, Joel's best friend, thinks that drugs are the solution to all problems.
There are plenty of sub-points; but those are the main three. But what's interesting is that they really are separate points. Compare this to the single sentence fragments that I used to describe Judge's earlier work. There just plain isn't a "high concept" here, upon which the rest of the points could be hung; everything was truly separate. And that made the movie just too complicated - not in a "too difficult to follow" way, but in leaving too little time to just observe.
Sure, some of the details shine through. The racist squabbling between the factory workers; the factory manager that doesn't know his employees' names; the low-quality bar that Joel and Dean hang out in regularly; Cindy's simplistic con; the broad strokes of dealing with the neighbor; the attempted worker strike. These moments felt like Mike Judge. The rest felt like Judge was struggling to keep up with his story. And those moments just didn't seem real to me - the coincidences, the considered (rather than casual) cruelty, the straight-up idiocy.
I didn't wait through the whole credits; I almost left before they wrapped up a couple of the story lines. That tells me what I needed to know.
At least the viral Beavis and Butthead video promoting the movie was satisfying...