A film about an extract plant (yes, the stuff you use for flavouring cakes) doesn't exactly sound like thrilling fare, but this movie might just catch you off guard.

Joel (Bateman) owns and runs an extract plant (that somehow manages to spell his own name wrong on the labelling, but that's not really important). By day he checks up on the factory floor employees, who seem determined to run his business into the ground. By night, he drinks at his mate Dean's (Affleck) bar, because the spark has fizzled out of his marriage to Suzie (Wiig).

When temptation, in the form of "criminal drifter" Cindy (Kunis), comes his way, Joel begins to find it hard to say 'no'. In fact, Joel isn't keen on saying 'no' at all, a problem that leads him to get into a few awkward situations with both the chilled Dean and his wound-up neighbour-from-hell Nathan (Koechner).

So now Joel's tempted to have an affair but his feelings of guilt tell him that it's "morally wrong". But what if his wife had an affair first? Then he wouldn't have to feel any guilt at all, right? So says Dean anyway, as he convinces him to hire male gigolo Brad (Milligan) to seduce his wife.

It turns out that Brad doesn't have much of a challenge on his hands at all, which is a good thing, seeing as he's not the brightest 'pool-cleaner' in the world. And with the coast clear for Joel's affair, he now finds himself weighed down with other problems - employee Step (Collins Jr) is suing the company for an accident which cost him body parts, the beautiful and mysterious Cindy might not be as sweet as she lets on and Dean's drug-pushing is getting out of control.

'Extract' is cleverly written (by director Mike Judge) and well-cast. Jason Bateman is worthy as the leading man, playing it slightly straight to allow for comic overload from his able sidekicks in JK Simmons (doing what he does best), Dustin Milligan (one to watch), David Koechner (laugh-out-loud funny) and particularly Ben Affleck (like you've never seen him before). There's not a whole lot to the story. In fact, it's mostly made up of the mundane occurrences in one, not-very-interesting, man's life. But the movie works in this subtlety, finding humour in the annoying neighbour that everyone knows, the friend that talks you into things that you don't really want to do and the eventual acceptance that sometimes the devil you know is what's best for you after all.

'Extract' is one of those rare little gems. With minimal fuss or build-up, it dodges the hype bullet and manages to deliver a witty, charming and surprising movie.

Linda McGee

Listen to the 'Framerate' review of 'Extract' from RTÉ Choice.