Film Reviews

Idiocracy Mike Judge

Rating - 7/10

Office Space was a grower. The first time I saw it I dismissed it almost immediately. I had no reason to expect anything from it and I wasn't disappointed. Put simply, I just didn't get it. It wasn't until friends started raving about it that I decided to give it another chance. Now that it's in nearly constant rotation on Comedy Central I've probably watched it as many times as any comedy in history (Holy Grail included) and I love it every time. The trick, I learned, was to enter Mike Judge's skewed world without reservation. This world combines the ridiculous with the everyday, like a heightened version of our own reality, and places a regular guy right in the middle of it.

Which brings us to Idiocracy. The premise is simple: Luke Wilson plays an average guy in the US Army, literally the most average guy in the armed forces, called on to be part of an experiment whereby he is put in hibernation, to be awoken in one year. Of course, something goes horribly wrong and he and his fellow guinea pig, a prostitute played by Maya Rudolph, awaken 500 years in the future. It doesn't take long for Wilson to realize that everyone around him is a moron and he is now the smartest person on the planet. Judge explains how this happened in a funny montage showing how stupid hicks reproduce at every possible opportunity, while educated yuppies can't get off their asses to commit to anything other than themselves. Darwinian natural selection takes over, aided by a vacuous consumer culture that satisfies every base whim and desire before it even has time to form. Sound familiar?

Judge's future is a shiny, colorful wasteland of marketing and garbage. People now speak in a patois of hillbilly, hiphop, vulgarity and grunts. When Wilson speaks in a normal voice everyone thinks he sounds "faggy", an extension of our current anti-intellectualism. The most popular TV show is a Jackass derivative called "Ow, My Balls!", which is simply a guy getting slammed in the balls over and over again in various settings. I could go on, but Idiocracy is so dense with jokes that you will need multiple viewings and a keen eye to catch them all. The one weakness of the film is that the plot stands simply as a device with which to satirize American consumer culture into submission. Fortunately, Judge hits so many targets so hard that the whole thing works, similar to the old Airplane, Naked Gun films.

It's obvious why Warner Bros. is not promoting the film - at all. Major corporations, including Costco, Starbucks and others are subject to mockery at every turn, and I'm sure the executives, stockholders themselves, aren't comfortable with a movie that derides that very culture that will so generously give them their next boat or beach house. If it ain't broke, why fix it, is how the thinking goes.

As frightening as it was to watch our dumb-ass culture so ruthlessly and relentlessly mocked, the real hair-raising moment came when I popped the DVD out and switched back to cable, only to see an episode of "Deal or No Deal" already in progress. The movie wasn't over, I realized - we are living it.