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Five or Six Things I Learned at the Extract Premiere

Five or Six Things I Learned at the Extract Premiere

1. Mike Judge is a terrific writer and not such a terrific movie director. Extract is one of those comedies that reads hilarious on the page and flattens on execution. Judge makes Kevin Smith and John Waters, who are also snappier writers than they are directors, look like geniuses. (And I love King of the Hill.)

2. Judge raised independent financing before Miramax picked up the movie. (Here’s an NPR interview.)

3. The Disney-owned specialty distributor is opening the movie on 1600 screens September 4. That means they’re selling it quick and hard and aren’t counting on it lasting in theaters for very long.

4. Moviegoers have never responded to a Mike Judge live-action comedy at the box office. (Beavis and Butthead Do America grossed $60 million domestically.) Office Space earned $10.8 million domestically in 1999, while 2006’s Idiocracy didn’t get to half a million.

5. Jason Bateman, who shined in supporting roles in Juno, The Kingdom and Hancock, comes out of Extract a movie star, even if it’s a b.o. dud. That’s because he’s solid, strong and watchable in every scene in this movie, no matter how ridiculous or unlikable his character. When an actor survives a blah movie, it signals a bright future. Tom Cruise became a star with Cocktail, Julia Roberts with Sleeping with the Enemy. We will see plenty more of Bateman going forward (he has six announced film projects, from Toronto Film Fest entry Up in the Air to Couples Retreat and Arrested Development).

6. Mila Kunis also comes out ahead. The Russian-born Comic-Con fave is both funny and sexy, always a strong combo. She stole Forgetting Sarah Marshall, delivered in the actioner Max Payne and has more fanboy fodder coming up, Book of Eli and possibly Darren Aronofsky’s Black Swan.

7. I already know that Ben Affleck is a better writer and director than an actor. He shouldn’t do a fun supporting role for a lark unless he knows he’s going to hit it out of the park.

8. I never learned why anyone thought Extract should be a Miramax movie.

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