Monday, January 15, 2007
Idiocracy (Mike Judge, 2006) 
This film is most known for being unceremoniously dumped by 20th Century Fox into a handful theatres and not being screened for critics. That would usually mean that it's a piece of crap but it's by Mike Judge and the idea seems brilliant: a man frozen for 300 years wakes up and finds a crass, stupid culture that has made him the smartest man in the world. The result is a bit of a mixed bag but with enough biting, funny satire to make me feel that this film didn't deserve the fate it received.
Luke Wilson is great as an average guy (naturally his name is Joe) that takes part in an experiment that causes him to wake up in a future where crass commercialism has take over everything, people speak in a redneck/ebonics/profanity laced slang, and any form of intelligence gets a person labeled as a "fag." The satire Judge lays down here is clever and often hilarious. The future is a world where Starbucks offers handjobs, the Secretary of State is a pitchman for Carls, Jr., and the President is a former Ultimate Fighting Champion. It's a world where stupidity is celebrated and preferred, evidenced by two of the best scenes in the film, an exchange where the Luke Wilson character is trying to explain that water is best for growing crops but can't get the idea across because the others only can think in stupid catchphrases. The scenes with the Wilson character on trial as well as the Ow, My Balls! scenes are hilarious, mostly because they're not that far removed from the world we live in now.
My main problem with the film deals with the tone. Even though this is a satire, it just seems too mean-spirited at times. In dealing with his material, Judge finds a middle ground that can offend everybody just a little bit. Most troubling is the portrayal of the people of the future, whose language seems as veiled racism (both black and white) making fun of ebonics as well as redneck slang. The film works when it takes on commercialism and the corporate culture that is overtaking America, but when Judge lays into society as a whole, he may go t