on November 27, 2007
Idiocracy, meaning rule of the stupid, is a dystopian film from Director Mike Judge (Office Space) that cost about $30 million to make but only made about half a million dollars because the film's distributor wanted nothing to do with promoting the film. There were no advertisements, no trailers, and the film was eventually released on just 130 screens in a limited amount of American cities. The film is written by successful veterans, stars some solid talent, and the CGI effects and art direction were likely not inexpensive. Unlike most films that a distributor ignores, Idiocracy was well-received by critics and I will echo here that it is indeed a very good satire. The distributor was of course Fox and they were likely embarrassed to release a film that does what any good dystopian tale does, and that is strongly denounce the self-destructive culture we currently live in and continue to facilitate.
Joe Bauers (Luke Wilson) is the military's most average soldier. He is literally tested to be of average intelligence, health, etc. Rita (Maya Rudolph) is a prostitute who is seemingly always fearful of her pimp Upgraydd. They are both selected as guinea pigs for a classified program that aims to place them in hibernation for one year. They are put into coffin-like chambers and forgotten about after the program dissolves. They are left there for 500 years until they awaken after their chambers are forced open by the great garbage avalanche of 2505. The setting they exist in is a low-intelligence society influenced by dysgenics, cultural and moral devolution, and powerful corporate influence and consumerism. Starbucks and Costco have basically become brothels. Crops are fed with Gatorade because of, you know, the electrolytes. Doctors diagnose people as "tarded". The president is an alpha-male nationalist and former professional wrestler/porn star. A museum shows that Charlie Chaplin was leader of the Nazi party who fought using dinosaurs in their army but was eventually "Un-Nazied" by the "Un" (the United Nations). There are some more vulgar and hilarious ways in which corporations evolve to satisfy the ever decreasing intelligence of our society that I'd like to mention but can't. Finally, average soldier Joe Bauer is tested to be the most intelligent human being on Earth in 2505 and the rest of the story centers on his development in this environment. There are also some really interesting supporting roles from Thomas Haden Church and Justin Long, among others.
There are a few production flaws and at times some clunky dialogue, but really those are just nitpickings. Idiocracy is at times absolutely hilarious and it manages to make its point throughout. I think with many dystopian films people get offended by the societal criticism. However, I was encouraged by the truth within the satire here and enjoyed the film tremendously. If you find yourself angry just reading the movie summary in this review then I wouldn't necessarily recommend watching Idiocracy.
on December 23, 2007
As a high school teacher, I saw this movie and was convinced that Mike Judge had secretly studied my students. He is DEAD ON about where the up-and-coming generation is headed, and it's so funny it hurts. This film is way ahead of its time in its cultural commentary, which is why it still hasn't received the promotion or praise that it rightly deserves. Then again, that's the problem with satire as a genre--the message is lost on the people who need to hear it most.
If you appreciate Office Space or King of the Hill, you'll love what Judge is up to here. It's refreshing to know that someone in Hollywood is ballsy enough to blast corporate America for its hand in creating a culture that is too stuid to recognize its own bleak future. It's also a little sad to realize that if you "get" this movie, you're already part of a dying breed.
on March 12, 2007
If you hated this movie you either didn't get it or were one of the people that the opening narration talks about. This film is a scathing satire about the culture that is breeding things like Paris Hilton, Jerry Springer, and Girls Gone Wild and taking a look at where the United States could be if that culture continues to grow unchecked. The Result is a movie that while not as funny as Office Space, offers a humorous although somewhat frightening look at our society and pop culture. I think this movie is one of those films that will eventually become a cult favorite and generate an even larger following that Office Space has. If you are troubled by your little niece's obsession with being like Paris Hilton or are dismayed by what passes for entertainment these days then you need to see this movie.
on March 20, 2007
Okay, I admit it. I enjoy a good fart joke now and then. But when that fart joke is 90 minutes long and wins 8 Academy Awards, including one for Best Screenplay, then I'd say we are in trouble. Many of this film's reviewers think that Idiocracy itself is a 90 minute long fart joke, but then, they probably missed the point of director Mike Judge's classic Beavis and Butthead too. In other words, while much of the humor is indeed base, it is the audience itself that is the butt (pun intended) of the joke.
All the reviews I've seen of this film take its premise of a moronic future literally. What they miss is that this movie is less about our pathetically inept descendants and more a brutally funny look at our media-saturated, corporately-controlled, anti-intellectual, out-of-shape present. The lawyer of the future sits in his recliner cum toilet, stuffing his face with artificial food-goop whilst ogling the Violence Channel, and it doesn't take a great leap of the imagination for me to see in this Joe Sixpack's vision of utopia. Advertising drops any hint of cerebration and subtlety, giving way to raw emotional appeals---"If you don't smoke Tarryltons, f*ck you!" and "Welcome to Costco, I love you." Politics and entertainment are inseparable, with a pro-wrestler/porn star President and a thug-filled House of Representin', and being able to speak articulately makes you a "fag." Like I said, it isn't that far a leap into the future.
Of course there were jokes that fell flat, probably because they were targeted toward the trailer-trash and hip-hop demographics that the movie has in its sights, and much of the humor is painfully obvious, but the film more than compensates with its emphasis on details. The jokes embedded in the TV screens, magazine covers, and billboards of the future had me pausing the DVD in order to get a closer look, belly-laugh, catch my breath, and wipe the tears out of my eyes. Luke Wilson plays his character as straight as he can, which only makes the situations funnier.
This movie is far from perfect, but it will definitely appeal to those who suspect that we're living in an idiocracy right now.
The way Fox handled this film is destined to become the stuff of legends, and itself should be sufficient reason to see it. Its release was delayed for years, the effects budget was cut drastically, it was never screened for critics and when it WAS released, it opened in a grand total of 130 theaters nationwide, and yanked very quickly after that.
There's enough discussion of the plot here, so I'll skip that. It owes an obvious debt to Kornbluth's "The Marching Morons", and that, too, is enough reason to see it. It is definitely one of the most bitter, cynical, and bleak movies I can recall viewing, and it has far more depth than a superficial look would convey. (I found myself hitting the "pause" button frequently - there's a LOT of details to check out.) The anti-corporate slams are fast and furious, and the scene of people playing the slots hoping for medical care is priceless. Those who complain that "it's dumb" obviously just don't get the point. (Maybe it's too much Fox News?)
Unfortunately, it loses energy in the second half with the contrived "romance". And in spite of what the case says, it is full-screen only. (The case claims it's widescreen, and double-sided.) It could have used some better effects and post-production work, but the studio wouldn't have it. A commentary would have really been welcome, too. What we have, then, is a flawed masterpiece, certainly a future cult film, and maybe, just maybe, one day Mike Judge will get to "finish" it *his* way. I know I'll be hoping.
on March 8, 2009
Never before have I seen a satirical film so accurately satire it's subject. In this case, the subject is the dumbing-down of civilization. Especially Western civilization. Whether you find it funny, disturbing, or moronic... I believe all 3 of those reactions are what Mike Judge intended with this film. The irony is reflected in so many of the negative reviews posted here.
Bottom line: If this film bores you, there's a good chance your A.D.D. has reached a nice comfy level where you have perfectly fit the description of the de-evolved human Mike Judge predicts in the film. Go watch an action-thriller or romantic comedy instead of this. It won't take long before your descendents will be hooked on reruns of "Ow my balls". If you find this movie disturbing then congratulations! It is a glimpse into a very likely future and you SHOULD be disturbed. If you find it funny, then you have a sense of humor AND a brain, which makes you part of a dying breed.
I would go so far as to put this movie in the same league of comedy as "Dr. Strangelove". It is a film that allows us to laugh at our own demise.
on January 19, 2007
Idiocracy is the story of Joe... an average Joe. Average in every possible way. He is chosen (along with a prostitute named Rita (played by Maya Rudolph)), to be part of a hibernation project that is supposed to last a year, but is bungled and forgotten before the year is up. 500 years later, Joe wakes up from the hibernation and finds himself in a world that is thoroughly dumbed down. Joe doesn't sound like a genius by our standards, but in this world he appears condescending for saying things like "let me explain". This movie basically serves as an indictment of the current state of our world. It's a movie that says, "what if the world was made up only of pop culture zombies, everyone you see on 'Elimidate', people who think fart jokes and kicks in the crotch are the funniest jokes ever, and people who couldn't pronounce a word with more than 2 syllables?" Well, sometimes it seems like we aren't so far from that when more people (at least in the US) know the names of Britney Spears's babies than the mayor of their city or what the term "homosapien" means. The movie is hilarious in showing how ridiculous and stupid people become, but you can't watch it without thinking of people you have encountered who actually act in these ways. So, in other words, the plot and the jokes are up to par, as is the acting (which includes the rapper Scarface, and David Herman - otherwise known as "Michael Bolton" in Office Space"). The movie doesn't drag on either, lasting just under 90 minutes. If you liked movies like "Office Space" or even "Fight Club", then you should be able to appreciate the satire of this movie.
on January 3, 2007
I managed to get an advanced copy of this DVD. While jarring at first, just like Office Space it has great replay value on video. I find myself watching it again and again, and I find different things to laugh at every time.
No-one picks out the everyday frustrations of dealing with life better than Mike Judge. Office Space was a movie about dealing with stupid people while trapped at work, Idiocracy is about dealing with stupid people everywhere else, at the hospital, Costco, fast-food stores...it's not really a science fiction movie, the "500 hundred years from now" angle is just a way to showcase stupidity on steroids, at its funniest extremes. This is what life would be like if everybody was stupid, not just 50-80% of the world.
Finally, don't listen to people that say it's mediocre, unstructured, runs out of jokes, etc. Those types of people and critics said the EXACT SAME THINGS about Office Space when it first came out (Which also did poorly in theaters, got poor reviews from critics, didn't test well with focus groups, etc), it only became a classic gradually years later.
Mike Judge's movies might not be for everyone, but if they're up your alley you'll love this.
Mike Judge hit comic gold with "Office Space," a satire of dilberty office workers. It became a deserving cult hit.
Now he tries for a broader kind of satire -- the dumbing down of America, which nobody can deny if they've looked at test scores. "Idiocracy" is weird, crude, and a lot smarter than virtually any other movie released in the past year...
The Pentagon is preparing a special hibernation project, so it can "save" its best soldiers for wartime. As a test subject, they select Joe (as in "average") Bowers (Luke Wilson), who is the absolute average of average. Along with a prostitute named Rita (Maya Rudolph) he is put into hibernation for one year.... except then the program gets shut down, and they are forgotten.
Joe wakes up five hundred years in the future, only to find that mankind has changed radically. Well, maybe not so much. Turns out that welfare caused the trash hordes to reproduce a lot faster than the intellectuals. The path of evolution was thrown off. Now Rita and Joe find that they, the average, are the smartest people on the whole planet. God help them.
First off, don't expect a retread of "Office Space." This is not "Office Space." It never tries to be "Office Space."
This is Judge being cruder, ruder and more cynical, with jibes at welfare, blockbuster movies, dumbed-down speech, corporate logos, government, hillbillies, and corporate megastores. It's even got a TV show called "Ow, My Balls," which involves.... well, you can guess what it involves.
What isn't immediately obvious is that this humor exists to satirize itself. We do have shows like "Jackass" (which would be high art in "Uh-merica"), after all. Judge is winking and double-winking all the time, as he slathers "Idiocracy" in his over-the-top, cynical art. And you know what? It's hysterically funny, and gets more so once you've seen it more than once.
And it's got a pretty scary theme. "Survival of the fittest" has been overturned by the forces of stupidity? Well, I've encountered people on the same intellectual level as the Uhmericans of the future, and I find the idea terrifying. But that terror also makes you think about the dumbing-down of society... and not many satires can do that.
The plot tends to meander somewhat, as Joe and Rita get acquainted with the people of the future. Fortunately the movie does stay afloat, and Rudolph and Wilson are quite funny as the "straight men" to a planet that is one big joke.
The idea of a world populated by the descendents of Britney Spears is enough to make most people break out in cold sweats. And that's what "Idiocracy" does... right before it makes you laugh yourself sick.
on January 9, 2008
Ok let me go on record and say that years from now many people will realize this is both the funniest and scariest movie ever made. Funniest in the sense that nearly every scene is painfully hilarious and scariest in that this country is on a runaway train headed straight towards the environment portrayed. Its premise is ingenious and the irony behind why Fox squashed its theatrical release will only add to its popularity later.
Luke Wilson was made for this role and I predict it will be the one that defines his career. His numerous WTF faces throughout the film are absolutely priceless. The subtle comedic reactions of the cabinet members further add to the absurdity particularly in the "Brawndo vs. water" meeting at the White House. Maya Rudolph, Dax Shepard and Terry Crews are in peak condition as well precisely capturing the essence of their characters.
Sadly this movie wouldn't exist if there wasn't already a large populace of morons and opportunistic corporations already in the world (and of course it gets worse by the day) so I don't think it will ever reach the iconic status of some blockbuster films. It is however one that will be cherished as way ahead of its time and a masterpiece that not only amused viewers but educated them as well.