The following script review of Mike Judge’s Extract contains moderate spoilers.

Mike Judge remains one of the most important and original voices working in American Comedy today, and with Extract the writer-director may do for the bland absurdity of successful white guys in mid-life crisis, stagnant marriages, and bullshit factory jobs what he did for cubicle-drones in Office Space and untended ‘90s adolescence in Beavis and Butt-head.

Judge is fascinated by average dudes whose big pictures are realistically small pictures. But rather than spike his societal observations with pathologically self-aware condescension, college-y elitism, or rage like The Office or Tim and Eric Awesome Show (shows I love), Judge stews in it. The cool-guy alternative to a life that equates to “This sucks” sucks just as much. And as a result, there’s a half-empty glass of doom in Judge’s work that’s like enjoying a beer at a baseball game. His characters often pick up coffee mugs on the cusp of bleak realizations, and Judge reserves his laughter so you’ll laugh harder and savor the truths. I’m always surprised that Judge’s signature pregnant pauses translate as well on paper as they do in movies or animation.

When a character in Extract loses a testicle in an accident, this tragic ball directly and indirectly pushes the lives of other characters into existential free-fall. None more so than Joel Reynolds (to be played by Jason Bateman, nice choice), a married 40-something owner and operator of a food-flavoring extract plant. The randomness of his business is a McGuffin of sorts representing the majority of unglamorous American jobs we rarely read or think about, even if we have them ourselves. Joel’s stay-at-home-laptop wife, Suzie (to be played by Kristen Wiig), barely responds to his good-natured shares about a potential cookies-and-cream extract breakthrough. Their sex life is best summed up by her comfort-zone sweatpants and her love of the Idol, a jerk-off killer for Joel no less.

Joel’s his own boss, and with his McMarriage on the rocks, he doesn’t have many people to confide in. Most of the employees at his factory are uneducated, lazy idiots who ineptly handle boxes of extract like self-important lemmings, so he laments inside the sports bar of a Holiday Inn owned by his friend Dean. According to Dean, a borderline shadeball, the solution to Joel’s common problems are Xanax, Special K and a brilliant plan. If Suzie cheats on him, Joel can cheat on her with the hot piece of ass—too good to be true—that just arrived at his plant (to be played by Mila Kunis). (I’m pretty sure Dean’s drugdealer is played by Ben Affleck).

This plan backfires, of course, with his wife enjoying a prolonged Skinemax scenario at his expense. Joel’s journey of self marches through a funny storm consisting of an annoying fucking neighbor, minor drug use, gossipy employees, and a proto-American lawsuit involving that aforementioned character’s ball. If the guy had lost both his balls, he’d be a complete freak one lawyer surmises, but the loss of one could mean piles of sympathy moolah.

This is not a script bursting with commercial appeal, but it has the workings of a sleeper hit, a resulting film that should satisfy Office Space’s sizable following, including people who couldn’t tolerate or warm to Idiocracy’s blast-stupid-with-stupid M.O. on DVD. The script’s dry and dark ending is what sealed the deal for me. Rather than turn a new leaf, Joel endures the chaos, like in real life. And it made me realize how few comedies we see these days about actual adults, rather than teens, 20somethings or stunted 30somethings. Extract is about processing personal fuck-ups and limitations and other peoples’ into a schematic of 40something sanity and compromise. It’s also about the vulnerability of the nutsack. And the guy who refers to everyone at work as “dinkus.” I hope to never meet him.

8.5/10

Discuss: Are you anticipating Mike Judge’s Extract? Where do you think Judge ranks amongst today’s comedy directors and writers?

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And then there were two. With Quentin Tarantino‘s Inglorious Bastards now scheduled to begin filming in October in time for Cannes 2009 (!), the script is making the studio rounds this week and the first two reviews have just hit the Web. The consensus: Holy Shit. Our pal El Mayimbe at Latino Review describes the screenplay—-which is divided into five chapters—-as a masterpiece, adding, “Hands down, the script was the most enjoyable read of the year for me so far.” And this dude is privy to a lot of scripts people.

The sentiments at Vulture are equally \m/: “If anyone is crazy enough to fund it, this movie is gonna be awesome.” Moreover, the cover sheet to their copy was seemingly handwritten by Tarantino, with the title spelled Inglorious Basterds [sic]. It even looks like one of those trendy faux-Michael Bay scripts, but an inside source tells me their descriptions, which parallel LR’s, sound legit.

So, what’s it about? You mean, besides the graphic scalping of countless Nazis circa WWII? The lead character that Brad Pitt has reportedly been offered is named Lieutenant Aldo Raine (which reminds me of of the Alpa Chino character in Tropic Thunder, but let’s move on). Raine leads a blood thirsty squadron of soldiers (neither review specified about the rumored “war criminals” aspect) called the “Bastards” for a final mission that involves ruining Nazi party plans to premiere a propaganda film in Paris. The chapters are said to form a storyline double helix of sorts, switching from the Bastards to the other main character, which Vulture describes as “a French Jewish teenager named Shosanna who survives the massacre of her family.” She is curating the premiere and has something up her sleeve for the Third Reich as well.

QT seems to have crafted an epic bugged-out Jewsploitation film, one that takes history for a loose and wild ride to hell and back. Latino Review describes one the Bastards, nicknamed The Bear Jew, as a suspected golem who skull-crushes Germans using a trusty baseball bat. Right now I am picturing Larry David and Adam Goldberg kicking Hitler’s decapitated head around as they puff Red Apple cigarettes (but it’s just my imagination). The head villain goes by “The Jew Hunter.” He’s a Nazi colonel named Hans and not to be messed with; of course, the Bastards don’t listen.

So, Tarantino is definitely going the IYFF route as he previously boasted. But how does the dialogue measure up and how does the script compare to his other works? Thankfully, the comparisons lean toward Pulp Fiction and Kill Bill rather than the absorbed homage that was Death Proof. For example, similar to the classic anime segment in KB Vol. 1, one chapter in IB will be shot in “French New Wave Black and White.” Mayimbe says the entire script is masterfully written…

“If you took the bad guy swagger of RESOVOIR DOGS, the uber coolness and structure of PULP FICTION, throw in the revenge angle of KILL BILL, set it in World War II – you get INGLORIOUS BASTERDS.”

Also…

“…it combines his love of old movies (war movies, Westerns, and even prewar German cinema), his attraction to powerful female protagonists, his love of chatter, and his willingness to embrace the extreme — visually and in his storytelling.” – Vulture

Awesome. Though I haven’t been too stunned by various dialogue excerpts so far, these are veddy promising reactions. Once again, millions of geek eyes look on Tarantino, and this time he seems more fired up than ever. More on Inglorious Bastards as it develops…

Discuss: Are you ready? What do you make of the early reviews for Inglorious Bastards?

He-ManEl Mayimbe has a gotten his hands on a copy of Justin Marks’ He-Man screenplay, currently titled Grayskull: The Masters of the Universe. Okay, may-be the title needs a little work, but Mayimbe insists that the screenplay a “fanboy masterpiece!” Here are five things from the script that has gotten us excited to see this movie on the big screen.

1. This is not He-Man for kiddies! It’s written as a hard and edgy PG-13 film tinkering on the edge of an R-Rating. And remember, PG-13 is the new R. You can get away with so much more now-a-days, especially when set in a fantasy environment like Eternia.

2. The story is described as “Lord of the Rings meets The Matrix meets Batman Begins.” An epic battle for Eternia which begins with the origins of He-Man, Skeletor, and the Power Sword. Prince Adam has to “overcome his selfish need for revenge and realize his destiny for the greater good of his people” and “find the Sword of Light” in the hidden Castle Grayskull and “unify his kingdom.”

3. Included are Fan favorite characters Zodack, Mekanek, Man-at-armsS, Teela, Evil-Lyn, Trap-Jaw, Tri-Klops, Beast Man, Battlecat and Panthor. And best yet, Orko is no where in sight!

4. All the corniness of the animated series is completely GONE. There isn’t even a “single beat of comedic relief” in the entire script. Treat the property with realism, what a concept!

5. Grayskull is a geek’s wet dream, “the perfect marriage of Sorcery and Science fiction where in Eternia both Fantasy and Technology co-exist.” The script mixes “high tech, swords, and otherworldly creatures.” Imagine the possibilities!

I never thought I’d say this but I’m excited to see a live-action He-Man movie. It sounds like Justin Marks has done fanboys proud and has crafted a film with franchise possibilities. There is a lot A LOT more, I’ve only given you five little tidbits. Read the full script review over on LatinoReview

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Earlier this month, we reported on the possibility of a new HBO show based on 2006′s engrossing hit documentary, Cocaine Cowboys, from uber players Michael Bay and Jerry Bruckheimer. Today, Slashfilm gives you an exclusive review of the script for Cocaine Cowboys‘ pilot episode written by Billy Corben and David Cypkin of Rakontur, the Miami-based production company behind the doc and its sequel (set for release this July). For legal reasons, we’ve omitted specific plot details in the review.

Being familiar with Rakontur’s M.O. and work from my time on Miami Beach, I had previously tagged their HBO show pitch as “the antithesis of Miami Vice.” So, it was no surprise to see the opening credits in the script described as such. Verbatim. But while the show’s oddly subdued credits might fit this “antithesis” (old farts playing shuffleboard, an idyllic underdeveloped Miami Beach circa ’79) , the pilot is not as leery of Don Johnson’s white blazers and Michael Mann’s kooky multiculti derelicts and crabs as I surmised. Recall that the first season of Miami Vice didn’t drip with Art Deco camp under Mann’s watch: the action exuded unprecedented cinematic flash and all of Miami was game, not just Miami Beach beauty. New York City figured into Vice‘s early storyline, as it does here. Everything in Cocaine Cowboys is similarly bigger-than-life but far seedier.

Cowboys‘ opening scenes–a hasty drug deal at sea set aboard a 150-foot vessel that’s quietly sinking under the careless supervision of incredibly stoned, hard partying Rasta thugs–conjures the same crotch-grabbing gusto and hyper-imagery on display in Mr. Bay’s Bad Boys II. The similarity is blatant, even. We’re talking requisite Miami bimbos jumping off a nearby sailboat after its comically set ablaze by a flare fired by an addled rudeboy named Chicken. Think swooping Bay-mentored aerial views of hot-boobs-overboard. Will HBO execs desire this sort of acronym? After reading the script a few times, I’d bet that the sought-after demographics would get sucked in quickly…and cocaine use would probably get a nice boost nationwide. Note: nothing in the script came off like Billy Walsh’s Medellin– thankfully–but Billy Walsh would definitely set his DVR.

Continue reading the script review of the Cocaine Cowboys pilot for HBO after the jump…

Discuss: Would you like to see a new HBO show from Bay, Bruckheimer and Rakontur about the ’80s cocaine trade and culture in Miami, Florida?

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Get your most asinine soap joke ready in the comments, because it seems that Green Arrow will be joined behind bars by a vast and infamous stable of DC villains in David Goyer‘s Supermax. Latino Review took a look at the script by Goyer (Batman Begins, X-Men Origins: Magneto) and Justin Marks (that new Street Fighter) and reports that The Joker, Lex Luthor and The Riddler all make sweet cameos inside the script’s titular prison alongside a laundry list of other DC derelicts including: Blockbuster, Shock Trauma, Gemini, Cascade, Tattooed Man, Multiplex, Djinn, Merlyn, Pied Piper, Latarian Milton, Iron Cross & Heatmonger & Backlash (Aryan Nation), Calculator (yes!), Count Vertigo, Floronic Man, Split and Icicle. Okay, so Latarian Milton is not appearing, but give him a year.

Previously, Goyer stated that many of these villains will be revealed by human name only and sans costumes (obviously), which further exemplifies just how Geek City this project is. LR’s consensus is that the Supermax script is both ridiculously cool and highly accessible to the mainstream, comparative to Batman Begins even: “[Warner Bros.] would be on crack not to make this.” Goyer and Marks quickly touch upon the island cast-away/archery origins of Green Arrow né Oliver Queen, yet another billionaire playboy in our world’s comicverse, and by page 7 (approx. 10 years later), we see Queen in costume and encountering the arrow-laden set-up that lands him behind bars. And not just the bars you’d imagine in an old Elmore Leonard paperback…

“Want to know how cool SUPERMAX is? The prison changes shape, cells rearrange, and reconfigures every night to disorient the prisoners from breaking out. A transforming super prison!”

Applying extra heat to the situation, Queen becomes a, uh, marked man inside due to corporate backstabbing (shades of Iron Man). I’ve always thought that Green Arrow was a hard sell to a big summer audience, but some of my doubts are fading and I can’t wait to check this script out. Of course, as we reported last year, Matt Damon was once rumored for Green Arrow, and if the script’s this strong, I’m sure other A-listers will bite as well. Let’s hope it happens.

A thanks to Slashfilm canuck Jonny for the reminder. Moreover, Canada is still Canada.

Discuss: Do you think The Joker will still show up post-Ledger when (a smaller if) Supermax goes into production? For you, where does Supermax rank in terms of upcoming comic book flicks? I dig the title but who else thinks it won’t stick to the marquee?

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All of us wily fans of highly unlikely action premises can let out a logical sigh, as MovieHole has received the official casting breakdown for Clint Eastwood‘s Gran Torino: a dirty, septuagenarian Harry Callahan is no where to be found. Dirty Harry 6 is back to being a daydream, but I’m sure Eastwood had a good laugh and perhaps gave a hmmmm into his lemonade. So, what is Gran Torino?

As previously rumored, it’s a “coming of age buddy comedy” between an old fart (Eastwood, no offense) who cherishes his titular muscle car and a young, troubled Asian kid who tries to steal said car to impress a gang. MovieHole draws careful comparisons to the tone and age juxtaposition of Eastwood’s soporific, underrated A Perfect World. It being my favorite film directed by Eastwood, that’s cool to hear, but I’m also getting Dannon Activia vibes off this. We’ve pasted the lengthy character rundown/synopsis after the jump because it contains spoilers. This November brings Eastwood’s latest directorial effort, Changeling, with Angelina Jolie and it’s riding particularly nice buzz.

Discuss: Would you rather see DH6 or Gran Torino based on the info here? And speaking of minors committing grand theft auto did you see this?

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For those who thought my asinine TWBB rant was insanely lowbrow, here’s a bit of high brow genre fare to level out the horror. Toasted author Michael Chabon‘s unused screenplay for Spider-Man 2 is now online over at McSweeney’s as a PDF. Grab it here, and do so quick because the site says it will only be up for a short duration. You may recall that Chabon received a writing credit on the second and top Spider-Man film, but his screenplay has never been made public until now. Good deal.

Discuss: Peter and I haven’t had a chance to read it, but if you’re playing hookie, don’t feel like working or simply don’t “get” the job thing, write a mini-review of the script in the comments! Appreciated.

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Note: This is a not an April Fool’s Day joke. Screenwriter Stuart Beattie, whose script is behind the $170 million G.I. Joe that’s currently filming, has written a full spec-script for a potential Halo movie according to Latino Review. Moreover, his script is based on Eric Nylund‘s first book tie-in, the prequel Halo: The Fall of Reach, and carries the same name.

For those not in the know, a “spec script” means a script that’s written without the screenwriter being paid or contracted to do so. Apparently Beattie (Spy Hunter, Pirates of the Caribbean 1) is a fan of Bungie‘s ginormous video game franchise and wishes to get the first film off life support, where it’s been since last summer when producer Peter Jackson and hotshot director Neil Blomkampf once again threw in the towel after an eruption of distribution differences.

Not only does Beattie’s Halo: The Fall of Reach deliver a worthy action film according to LR’s inside source but it sets up a trilogy of films to coincide with the three Xbox installments. Here’s what the source said…

“The script is, first and foremost, a character-driven story about a soldier named John who was kidnapped or “conscripted” by the UNSC when he was just six years old, and then brutally trained to become an elite Spartan warrior known as Master Chief 117.

The script then takes us through the horrific first contact with the Covenant hordes on the doomed colony world of Harvest, and then climaxes with the spectacular fall of the UNSC forward base on Reach, during which every other Spartan is slaughtered.”

The source goes on to compare the script to Jaws, in that the Covenant (the series’ cunning alliance of aliens) isn’t seen until the half-way point, thereby making the first film financially attractive. In 2005, a script by Alex Garland (28 Days Later) that went through several rewrites was set to be used for Blomkampf’s film. Of note, Beattie also wrote the Gears of War video game adaptation that is now reportedly scheduled for 2010.

Discuss: Will Halo: The Movie ever happen? Furthermore, will the infamously uptight dudes at Microsoft give Beattie’s script the time of day?

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