Wednesday, October 04, 2006



I first read about this film about a month ago -- fittingly for the movie, I've forgotten where, but it was in some blog somewhere. Long story short: It's by Mike Judge of BEAVIS & BUTTHEAD fame, his first feature since the modern classic OFFICE SPACE . The studio has buried IDIOCRACY, releasing it in only a few cities -- not even in New York. So when my wife & I had reason to spend a few days in Austin, we decided we had to see it. As she said: "Dude made OFFICE SPACE." Case closed!

IDIOCRACY is a weird piece of work. The plot: Five hundred years from now, people have all gotten incredibly stupid because all the stupid people had lots of kids, while the smart people didn't. (SF fans will recognize this as, er, heavily inspired by C.M. Kornbluth's novella "The Marching Morons." ) Luke Wilson plays an ordinary guy who's put in suspended animation and wakes up to find that, by default, he's the smartest guy in the world.

Considering how farcical the movie is -- the most popular TV show of the time is called "Ow My Balls," for instance, and nearly every scene is a gag -- it's remarkably involving. A lot of the jokes are, uh, pretty stupid, but that's kind of the point. Luke Wilson's experiences with the idiots of the future is excruciating -- I really felt like I'd endured something by the end. It's also the kind of movie that will get funnier and funnier the more times you saw it, just like OFFICE SPACE. Even now, I'm laughing as I remember scenes that seemed kind of stupid in the theatre. And there's a closing "inspirational" speech that really works, in the way, say, TEAM AMERICA's fell flat.

So why is Fox burying this thing? I don't buy that it's too close a satire of our current administration -- IDIOCRACY is far too out-there for that. This article includes speculation that there's too much bathroom humor in it, but really it's pretty tame in that area. My guess is that Fox is afraid of the satirical "product placement" all through IDIOCRACY. In this future, Fuddrucker's restaurant has gone through several evolutions to become Buttfucker's, and Starbucks is a place where you get hand jobs. And not in a cute We-All-Love-Starbucks-Don't-We? way. It's just a nasty place where you get dirty hand jobs with your latte.

Of course, it's also the kind of movie you could see and walk out bewildered, thinking "That's not funny." But really, it is. If you get a chance, switch off "Ow My Balls" and give it a shot.


Jon the Intergalactic Gladiator said...

My friend over at Efilmcritic really liked it. I haven't seen it yet myself.

Dave said...

I saw it in LA about a month ago, and while I didn't think it was hilarious, it certainly opened my eyes.

The next morning in my hotel, I was flipping through the channels and saw two incredibly vacuous programs (one on MTV, one on Disney) that were straight out of the movie.

I can understand why Fox is burying it (it strikes too close to home), but hope it gets some kind of exposure on DVD -- with a extra added bonus of the director's cut of "Ass."

Marie said...

wait... this is not just a sci-fi concept. I heard about this concept before from (coincidentally) a friend who had lived in Austin. Bertrand Russell was reputed to have stated or written up a theory about suceeding generations becoming stupider. The idea being that humanity would eventually become, for example, smart enough only to use a photocopier, not to fix one or invent a better one.

Stuart Moore said...

Dave: That was one weird thing about seeing the movie...I walked out and did a double-take at a big pile of lap-trays stacked up in the movie theatre, designed to hold giant piles of nachos and sodas. Normal things looked really disturbing afterward.

Marie: I didn't know it came from Russell, though I'm not surprised. Did he use the specific breeding theory? (Stupid people have more kids, therefore...)

jim treacher said...

You can read a draft of the script here. It's funny.

Marie said...

My friend who now lives in the Gulf told me about the Bertrand Russell theory sometime in the late 80s. So I don't have firsthand knowledge, but he did specify that it was about "stupid" people breeding more than intellectuals. (If you carry this to a disturbing level, you could go to the "maybe they don't read the instructions in the birth control packet as closely" or "maybe economics dictate less access to choice.")

But it isn't only stupid people--apparently in France they have made incentives for all people to breed. Because in Europe, not enough people--stupid or smart--are breeding. It was on a WNYC program yesterday.

Anonymous said...

i saw it last month when i spent some time in LA. it's a good film. the "ow, my balls!" show still cracks me up.

and of course, the Costco sequences pretty good.

"you went to law school at costco?!"

"i know! but my dad was alumni and he managed to get me in."