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Category:    Home > Reviews > Comedy > Satire > Science Fiction > Politics > Idiocracy (2005/Mike Judge)

Idiocracy (2005/Mike Judge)


Picture: C+†††† Sound: B-†††† Extras: C-†††† Film: B-



Mike Judge is best known for his hit TV shows Beavis & Butt-head and King Of The Hill, which we have covered here on the site, but he has tried out feature films a few times and we do not mean theatrical versions of his TV shows.Office Space (also on this site) was not a big hit initially, but became a huge cult favorite and a big seller on DVD.When it was announced Judge would do a futuristic comedy about a world so dumbed down that a smart man from the past (ala Buck Rogers, except that the world has declined) would wake up in the future and be the smartest person alive, it sounded like it would be great and a big hit.Then, despite theaters even putting up posters, the big release never happened.


What happened?It is hard to say.The film at one point was originally titled 3001 as a sort of in-joke in reference to Stanley Kubrickís 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968), but the film is as much of another bold Judge satire as it is a darkly comic Science Fiction film, though no one has decided to see it as such despite the fact that it is.Idiocracy became the final title settled on and after a long wait to see it arrive in theaters, it barely opened and is now on DVD.


Luke Wilson stars as Pvt. Joe Bowers, the early 21st Century soldier who takes place in a sleeping experiment.When it is abandoned, so is he, forgotten like his friend Rita (Maya Rudolph) who both suddenly awake in 2525!Joe at first thinks only a little time has passed, but when he sees the gutted-out culture, new vulgar slang-English, crude commercialism with more crudeness than ever, trash all over and the few documents that actually have the date correct, he must get to the federal level immediately.


Unfortunately, the decline has reached all the way to The White House and Joe becomes Secretary Of The Interior to help the extremely mess-up country.Rita also wakes up and cannot believe what a mess things have become.


The film is very disturbing, in part because it is as much about now as the future and reminds us of how ugly things have become and how much worse they still might become.Everyone has become part of an underclass that combines Hip Hop, homophobia and the worst possible conclusion of the professional wrestling movement reaching all the way to what little power outside of mob rule that is left.The way in which dumbing down is too easy and infantilization & apathy (especially though technology) too easily follows rings all too true, but that has been a constant theme from Judge and one he fortunately has not abandoned examining.


The one film it reminded me of in particular is Neil Israelís bizarrely dystopian 1979 dark comedy Americathon, where the U.S. Government runs a telethon to dig itself out of its national debt released in one of the last years the country was the greatest creditor nation in the world.It did not always work either, but was often darkly honest and at times brutally prophetic about what was to come.This film, co-written by Judge and longtime collaborator Etan Cohen, seems to have hit the same discord with the few who have seen it.With DVD, Idiocracy will hopefully see a better fate and it might even cause Americathon to hit DVD.


The anamorphically enhanced 1.85 X 1 image is a little soft, but is nicely shot by Tim Suhrstedt, responsible for indie favorite Little Miss Sunshine (reviewed elsewhere on this site) creating a slightly dark look for the future from all the trash that has piled up in the story.Between the look and sets, this almost looks like Mars from Total Recall (see the Blu-ray elsewhere on this site) to the extent that the film spoofs consumerism though the visual language of that Paul Verhoeven hit.There is digital and this is soft at times, but the look works.


The Dolby Digital 5.1 mix is not bad, with humorous surrounds and a music score by Theodore Shapiro (The Devil Wears Prada) that further enhances the humor, sadness and absurdity of the story.Shapiro might just be getting on a roll here.Unfortunately, the only extra are 5 deleted scenes that are amusing and its too bad because the film could have said more if it had more screen time.Hopefully, Idiocracy will get the audience it deserves and proves once again that Judge is one of the most brutally honest satirists of our time.



-†† Nicholas Sheffo


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