Who’s the Boss?

Photo: Miramax Films

Mike Judge—the guy behind Beavis and Butt-Head, King of the Hill, and the film Office Space—is either a very patient man or a masochist. Consider 2006’s dystopic satire Idiocracy, which was essentially dumped by 20th Century Fox. “You couldn’t even find it on Moviefone,” says Judge. “It was listed as Untitled Mike Judge Comedy—and that’s kind of unheard of. It’s one thing not to put up posters, but it’s another thing to not even bother to give Moviefone the title. I guess they didn’t want to spend the money on the phone call.”

Office Space, his first live-action film about office drones (and the movie that gave us such classic tropes as chain-restaurant “flair” and “Yyyyyyyeah”), was its own headache. “I remember Fox sent me, like, thirteen versions of trailers, and I remember going, ‘Oh, these are great! The only ones I don’t like are No. 3 and No. 9.’ And Fox says, ‘Yeah, we’re really excited! We like No. 3 and No. 9.’ It was just always like that. I don’t have anything against Fox,” he adds calmly. “I just don’t like the battles.”

Maybe that’s why he prefers to live in Austin, Texas—far enough from Hollywood that his bafflement can fester rather than boil into despair. Or maybe he just channels it all into his work, like his latest film, Extract, which, unlike Office Space, dares to sympathize with the boss. Given the working-class rage sweeping the country, some might argue bad timing. “A friend brought that up,” says Judge, noting that he wrote the script ten years ago, when he was struggling with being a boss himself. “With Beavis and Butt-Head, I suddenly had 30 to 90 people working for me. So I had the thought of doing something from the point of view of the guy who owns the place. But it’s not like screw the workers or anything.”

Extract (which will not be released by Fox) stars Jason Bateman as the unhappily married owner of a small food-flavoring manufacturer who flips out and, with a pal (a bizarrely haired Ben Affleck), comes up with a scheme to hire a gigolo to sleep with his wife (Kristen Wiig). At work, the boss grapples with a litigious employee who has suffered an accidental testicle piercing (inspired by Judge’s odd nightmare of “getting in a car wreck and the stick shift goes through my testicles”) and his own crush on a new employee (Mila Kunis)—“a sociopath,” says Judge, “but really good-looking. It’s just amazing to me what really superhot girls are able to get away with in life. Especially if they don’t have a conscience.” Substitute studio big shots for superhot girls, and you have the story of Mike Judge’s life.

Directed by Mike Judge.
Miramax Films Sept. 4.

Who’s the Boss?