I am a huge fan of Office Space, the 1999 film about how it sucks to work for "The Man." Now, 10 years later Mike Judge is back with another film about how it sucks to be "The Man." Mike Judge, known also for bringing us Beavis and Butthead, King of the Hill, Idiocracy and a whole slew of other morons for us to laugh at, does not disappoint with his new batch. No one in this film has very much common sense, at points frustratingly so. This, however, is the joke and it seems that Mike Judge likes to make fun of his progeny of fools, looking down his nose at them in a Coen Brothers kind of way.
Jason Bateman, well cast and reviving his role from Arrested Development, plays Joel, president and founder of Reynold's Extract. His warehouse is filled with a surly lot of malcontents, back biters and generally unproductive workers. He also has a wife, Suzie (Kristen Wiig), who designs coupons, watches Dancing with the Stars (a misplaced joke that will, unfortunately, date this film) and has not slept with Joel in over a month. One day, there is a mishap in the warehouse and one of Joel's workers, Step (Clifton Collins, Jr.) ends up losing a testicle. Into this messed up story steps transient grifter Cindy (Mila Kunis) looking to mess it up even more.
Almost all of the men in the film are well-written, well-rounded characters. The females, however, are sorely underused and end up just being plot points for the males, which is really a shame since we've seen what Mila Kunis can do in That 70's Show and most recently in Forgetting Sarah Marshall. Plus Kristen Wiig has loads of talent and needs to be given a role to shine and not just be background funny. The one person who was not underused is Ben Afflek as Dean, Joel's drug addled, bartender best friend. His surfer dude curls and keen comic timing make him a delight to see on screen, something I haven't been able to say in quite a long time. A scene where Dean and Joel are smoking pot is especially funny due to Dean's buff sociopathic friend Willie (Matt Schulze) and music cues that are too "on-the-nose" to not be on purpose. Listen for those music cues throughout the film, they are well placed and they are funny.
There are many talented people who make little more then cameos here. J.K. Simmons (Spiderman, Juno) is Joel's right hand man at Reynold's Extract. David Koechner (Anchorman, Thank You for Smoking), still attempting to take over Christopher Walken's title of "actor who won't say no to a role," is Joel's gregarious and meddling next-door neighbor. Beth Grant (Donnie Darko, No Country for Old Men) is a worker at the warehouse who gossips and points fingers at all the other workers while her own responsibilities go awry. Gene Simmons (well….from KISS) plays a lawyer that Step hires to sue the company and I believe that editing did a great job making him look good.
Overall, this would make a good double feature with Office Space. But one must ask, if Mike Judge thinks that life is horrible as a worker and now that he has climbed the corporate Hollywood ladder he tells us that life isn't much better as a boss, then where in the name of Bill Lumbergh will we find our happiness?!?! Huh, Mike?