MovieHype00698 - IDIOCRACY
To some Mike Judge will forever be known for his landmark Cartoon creations, and that alone is a career and a half. Judge is the mastermind behind the phenomena that was BEAVIS AND BUTTHEAD. There was about a three year period there where, if you were in high school or college, there simply WAS no more important show. (Think the importance of The Daily Show/Colbert Report combined with South Park of a few years ago and you have some idea.)
Mike Judge also created KING OF THE HILL, a show that might have been considered the greatest cartoon of all time if it did not have the bad fortune to premiere after the actual greatest cartoon ever, and a show that just gets better with repeat viewings, since they rely on character over flash and topicality.
In some ways these shows are similar, in some ways vastly different. All in all, that makes Judge a giant in the field. But his movie career might one day net him as much more glory.
Besides the movie version of B&BH (surprisingly watchable for what basically amounts to a one-joke show), Judge made the cult classic OFFICE SPACE. One of the greatest premises of all time for a job movie, and if it hadn’t lost its spine toward the end might have made the list of top ten satires ever. (EVER!) Even with the limp ending OFFICE SPACE remains a movie you can easily watch every six months, and helped cement legendary status for Gary Cole and Stephen Root. (To this day I can’t see a red stapler without muttering, “I could set the building on fire.”)
I have been eagerly awaiting Judge’s next comedy, only to discover it somehow didn’t get released in theatres, or somehow didn’t get marketed, or I don’t know.
The point it, Mike Judge’s latest work, IDIOCRACY, is now on video.
Here’s the plot: incredibly average Joe Bauers (played by Luke Wilson) is put into cryogenic freeze for one year (along with a prostitute named Rita, played by SNL’s Maya Rudolph), and accidentally wakes up 500 years later. The world they find themselves in has transformed, and not for the better.
Two main factors have led to the almost total disintegration of culture in 2505. One, massive over-stimulation from the Media, and two, it’s the stupid people having all the babies, and thus carrying on the genes.
(Right now you’re thinking to yourself: is this a satire or a documentary?)
The end result is that whereas in 2005 Joe was incredibly average in 2505 he is now the smartest person on the planet.
By a long shot.
For one thing, language has devolved to, “…a combination of Hillbilly, Valley Girl, Gangsta Slang and a series of grunts.” Someone like Joe, who at least speaks in complete sentences, is viewed as “retarded” or “faggy.”
Again, you’re thinking, “Are you SURE this isn’t a documentary?”
IDIOCRACY doesn’t have the same level of excellence (or plot thread) of OFFICE SPACE. Then again, at 75 minutes, it never gets to a dragging point. Mostly the movie is an excuse to satirize today’s “Idiot” culture, some of which works better than others. What does work is pretty hilarious.
For instance, in the future people are named after products, which gives us people like Tylenol Jones, Beef Toppings, and the president is Mountain Dew Camacho. Starbucks now not only serves coffee but hand jobs. (“Will that be one shot, or two?“) The number one show (on the Violence Channel) is “OW! My Balls!” A magazine in the waiting room of a Doctor’s office (itself a hilarious set piece) is “Hot Naked Chicks & World Report” and the cover story is “Shit Sucks!” You get the point
It gets so bad that at one point Joe addresses Congress to give the following inspiring speech: “There was a time when reading wasn't just for fags. And neither was writing. People wrote books and movies. Movies with stories, that made you care about who's ass it was and why it was farting. And I believe that time can come again!”
Not quite “Ask not what your country can do for you…” is it?
IDIOCRACY is essentially one of those movies that exists just for the throwaway jokes they are throwing in. This isn’t such a bad thing as long as you know what you’re getting. If you are a fan of BEAVIS or KING OF THE HILL or OFFICE SPACE, it’s probably worth your time.
And now, due to popular demand (well, one person), we bring back the Hyperion Institute Rating Guide!
Suspension of Disbelief Index (out of 10): 10 This movie is pure satire, and as such is completely unbelievable. On the other hand, we may well have a culture like that one day, which is just scary.
Genre Grade: For pure comedy IDIOCRACY wouldn’t rank too high. (Maybe a C at best), but for Quick Hit Satire (a genre I just made up), I give it a B-.
Sex/Drugs/Rock&Roll: IDIOCRACY is filled with bad language, including the use of the word “fag” quite a bit, which might offend some people, until you understand they are making fun of people who say it, but there you go.
Other important factors: The Menu Page of the DVD is beyond confusing, which initially pissed me off until it dawned on me was supposed to be reflecting the over-saturation of Media. Anyway, be on your guard.
Extras: Decent extra features: a few interesting deleted scenes, but nothing special. Would have liked to have seen an interview with Judge talking about what he was satirizing with the main points.
Pantheon Percentile: This category ranks IDIOCRACY based as a percentage of how much better it is than all other movies ever made. And while it’s a decent way to spent 90 minutes, this movie is not one for the ages. I say IDIOCRACY is better than 52% of all movies ever made, and that’s generous, probably owing to the fact I laughed out loud at least 25 times.