mike judge’s idiocracy

monday after work i went and saw idiocracy with natalie. (i hadn’t noticed its existence, so thanks to natalie for noticing it and mentioning it!) it’s a film by mike judge (office space, “beavis and butthead”, “king of the hill”). it stars luke wilson and maya rudolph, and there are appearances by andrew wilson (futureman in bottle rocket and luke’s older brother), robert musgrave (bob maplethorpe in bottle rocket), david herman (michael bolton in office space), stephen root (milton in office space), etc. the film evidently sat in the can for a couple of years, then fox quietly released it in about 6 markets recently without any fanfare or advertising. you can’t even find a trailer for it (at least not when i looked around monday evening).
judge is known for his spot-on satire, and this film is no exception. this is way more over-the-top than office space, and i don’t think as good. but office space sort of flopped at the box office (i actually did see it in the theaters when it was released), then picked up a cult following on dvd (which allowed me to appreciate it more). i think this has a good chance of doing the same. similar to how every cubicle worker can identify with office space, but it’s those who see the absurdness and futility of modern corporate culture that really “get” it — every person who is aware of american pop culture can identify with the jokes being made in this film, but it’s those who think that the dumbing trend is seriously frightening that will revel in the true point behind the movie.
the premise is that evolution has shifted and without natural predators humanity is being overrun by those who procreate the most…and that’s not the intelligent. over several hundred years the human race has reached a point of dullness that can be imagined by the logical extension of the trends toward stupidity found in american popular culture today. luke wilson is the average man of today, frozen as part of a military human hibernation experiment that’s supposed to go one year. the experiment gets forgotten through government blunders, and 500+ years later when he actually ends up being revived (accidentally) he is the smartest man on earth. i don’t really want to delve into the plotline, because i think the jokes are better in the context of the film, and i’d rather you go out and watch it and support it.
because of the devolution of mankind, there is a lot of low-brow humor in the film — everything has turned into sex, violence, vacuous showmanship, and corporate commercialism. but while some will laugh merely at the crassness or scatological nature of the funnies, there is a point being made. (you may recognize this tactic from “beavis and butthead”.) i think idiocracy is more of an intellectual salvo of satire over the starboard bow of the idiot ship. the question is how many will think it’s a fireworks display and how many will, after a moment of clarity say “heeeey…”.
still, i don’t think it’s as strong as it could have been, when compared to his other work. but i doubt that’s what made 20th century fox hold off on releasing it. i’m interested to see how it fares, given the cult status judge has and the fact that it’s his first film since office space.

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