Director: Mike Judge
Cast: Luke Wilson, Maya Ruldolph, Justin Long, Terry Crews, and Dax Shepard
Runtime: 84 min.
by Brian Eggert
Original Release Date:
Idiocracy has a somewhat notorious history. It was supposed to be released into theaters fall of 2006, except Fox thought the film was so bad, they decided not to release it all. Now it's on DVD. After watching the disc I can’t agree with Fox’s decision; I thought it was funny and was almost a relevant social commentary on American stupidity and consumerism. It's certainly no worse than something from the Scary Movie series.
The movie drags on in the end, which is sad considering its length. At 1 hour and 24 minutes, it’s barely a feature-length film. It’s not a smart piece of comedy—Mike Judge didn’t achieve the same level of great observational humor as he did with his own Office Space. By the end, the jokes get old and you won’t laugh anymore. Nevertheless, it was entertaining, if only in the it’s-so-stupid-it’s-funny way. I suppose that’s the point of a film called Idiocracy.
Military librarian Private Joe Bowers (Luke Wilson) is your average lazy American: none-too-bright and vastly uneducated. Because of this the U.S. military volunteers him for an experiment in which he’ll be frozen for a year in a cryogenic pod. Due to a mistake, he and the other volunteer Rita (Maya Rudolph), a prostitute, are forgotten for over 500 years. When an accident forces their cryogenic pods open, they awake to find they're the smartest people on Earth. The economy of the future is falling apart; there’re no crops to feed people (Crops are watered with the future equivalent of Gatorade; whenever Joe mentions water, he gets a dumb look. “What, like in toilets?”) and mountains of garbage are everywhere. Joe, as the smartest person on Earth, is given the task of saving the world.
The idea is that because contemporary society uses technology to make our lives easier, we have no reason to struggle, therefore our lives become one of luxury. We have no reason to think; the population gets dumber and dumber. The main concerns of future citizens are food, sex, and violence (doesn’t sound too far off from today, does it?). The smartest people in this future speak in broken English, watch TV shows like the hilariously-named Ow, My Balls, and the top movie of the year is called Ass (it’s 90 minutes of watching a person’s bare ass—the movie won Best Picture and Best Screenplay at the Oscars in the future). None of these comparisons are too far from the humor of Larry the Cable Guy or Mike Judge’s own Beavis and Butthead. In fact, I’m pretty sure most of our own rednecks already behave like the stupids in the movie.
There's plenty of other hilarious changes in the future world portrayed in Idiocracy. For example, we see the gradual "development" of a Fuddruckers over 500 years; the new society names it Buttfuckers—it’s a family restaurant. Starbucks is an adult “service” stop, with something called a “Creamy Latte” costing around $1,000 (you’ll have to use your imagination). There’s one bit of progress however, there’s finally a black president—except he’s a machine-gun-toting pro-wrestler...
With plenty of fart, sex, and “fag” jokes to go around (Joe is consistently criticized for talking “like a fag,” which confirms my argument that these future peoples sound like they’re rednecks), Idiocracy intentionally embraces politically-incorrect humor as satire. None of the humor veers too far from, or satirizes beyond some of today’s lowest rungs of society. Idiocracy is as clever as a kick in the balls can be—which is disappointingly unintelligent. The film isn’t a great cautionary tale. I’d hoped it would warn us of the impending stupidity that's sure to occur if we keep television and fart jokes higher priorities than education; there's but a tittle of responsibility placed on today's society. Furthermore, the movie does little to suggest that we can prevent being overrun by stupidity.
Sad, but true. If you consider Idiocracy the most casual viewing you can get next to TV's Beavis and Butthead, you'll be entertained enough (it's a few notches up from hitting frogs with a baseball bat and starting things on fire). After all, it's making fun of uneducated people. By the end of the movie, you’ll be dying to talk about something scholarly.