Following a packed advance screening of Extract, the new comedy by Mike Judge, in Dallas, Texas last night, the writer / filmmaker / animator was asked about his previous effort, Idiocracy. He admitted his disappointment that the film was so little publicized for its limited theatrical release three years ago: "When it opened in, like eight cities, someone told me that you couldn't look it up on Moviefone under its title," he related. "[The studio] didn't even want to pay the eight bucks or whatever to get a listing, so you had to search for 'Untitled Mike Judge Film' to find out where it was playing." Our own Jette Kernion wrote about the lack of publicity at the time.
Fortunately, Judge noted that Idiocracy has sold well on DVD, and Extract should be much easier to find when it opens on Friday, September 4. If I describe it as Judge's best work so far, it's not because he's "grown up" or "become more mature"; the film features some of his darkest comedy yet. Extract is very much a part of the Mike Judge Universe, where decent men enjoy working for a living but dream of escaping some day (Jason Bateman), where good women sometimes go bad (Kristen Wiig, Mila Kunis), and where most everyone is good-hearted but dumber than a pet rock (Ben Affleck, J.K. Simmons, Clifton Collins, Jr.). In other words, Extract is another funny, unpredictable comedy featuring recognizable, everyday people, like the guy who's sleeping on your couch right now, drinking two-liter bottles of Pepsi and watching TV all day.
More tidbits from the Q&A after the jump.
Judge said he started writing the script years ago with no one particular in mind, but after he saw Arrested Development, he thought Bateman would fit the lead role, so he rewrote it a little with him in mind.
Affleck read the script and had good ideas for how to play his part as a stoner bartender, so Judge was only too happy to have him on board.
Judge didn't do any advance research on factories -- the film is set in an extract bottling plant -- so he was glad when he toured a facility and met real-life workers who resembled the characters he'd written.
And, no, neither Beavis nor Butt-Head are based on your school buddies. Judge had a classmate in mind when he began drawing, an over-achieving straight 'A' student, but the character eventually morphed into what we saw on television.
Judge was living in Dallas when he created Beavis and Butt-Head, and the city still loves him, as evidenced by the huge crowds lined up well in advance at the Angelika Film Center for the special screening. I'm hoping that Extract connects with a larger audience when it opens in a couple of weeks.