04 September 2006

Idiocracy Movie Review

Mr. Stapler and I went to see Mike Judge's new movie "Idiocracy" last night.

Haven't heard of it? Don't feel bad. No one else has either. Fox has apparently spent zero dollars on advertising and promotion. The weird part is that it seems like it is being almost anti-advertised. What do I mean? I went to look it up on Moviefone and it was not listed.

To find it, you had to look under "Untitled Mike Judge Comedy." Yeah. THAT's a grabby title that should have 'em running for the box office.

Mr. Stapler only heard about it because he went to a Santa Monica art-house midnight movie on Friday night and they were imploring people to go see the thing in the few theaters where it was showing.

The premise of the movie is that cute, cute Luke Wilson plays Joe, a man of average intelligence, who is frozen for 500 years. When he wakes up, the stupid people have been breeding like hamsters while the smart people have been busy going to college and forgetting to have children, so that the whole world is a disgusting and filthy and very, very stupid. Which makes Joe The Smartest Man in the World.

He stumbles through a planet piled high with trash where nothing works and where every employee has a menu-board with symbols like at Taco Bell. In a hospital waiting room, injured people play slot machines to try to win free health care as a roomba-bot cleans the same spot over and over while the floor around it remains covered in filth.

People are almost pre-verbal. They are crude and cruel, slovenly and supremely self-satisfied.

It is an unnervingly familiar place. Even though it is a silly movie, it is easy to walk out afterward, take a look around, and think "Yeah, he is onto something."

There are plenty of jokes at the expense of real-life brands. The Fox News anchorman is a shirtless bodybuilder. Costco takes days to travel through and offers law school in addition to everything else. Almost every modern franchise now offers "gentlemen's services" in addition to say, a latte (Joe: "Can we stop at a Starbucks?" Frito: "Man, we don't have time for a hand job!")

It's a great movie concept and an ok movie. It is hard to hang a movie on one character whose claim to fame is that he is completely average, one stereotypical woman character (the sassy prostitute) and a supporting cast of complete and utter idiots.

It has some good laughs, mostly rueful. It has a silly, typical "Hero's Journey) plot structure (man leaves home, gets in over his head, uses wits and the help of allies to overcome evil, save the day and learn something about himself) - no big surprises there.

Here's another review from Cinematical that goes into more detail.

I don't know if Mike Judge made someone at Fox mad or what. This Esquire article talks a little about his problems getting the movie made, but doesn't go into the real-behind-the-scenes stuff. Wikipedia posits that it might be because of threatened civil suits by some of the companies satirized by Judge.

This movie isn't going to win any Oscars, it's better than a lot of other movies out there. It certainly deserves as much publicity as, say "Failure to Launch."

Pick it up on DVD.


Suzanne said...

I recently heard about "Idiocracy," but only because it was in the fall movie preview issue of Entertainment Weekly. Sounds more worthwhile than MI:3.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the heads-up. I'd like to see it but it isn't playing anywhere in my area. I may very well have to resort to DVD...

J.R. Kinnard said...

Thanks, Sue. I've read a few reviews, and they all reference the uneven flow of the movie. I wonder how much of this results from the reshoots FOX demanded?

I'd love to see what Judge could do with a supportive studio behind him.

J.R. Kinnard said...

One question; how many people were in the theater where you saw the movie?

SUEB0B said...

JR - there were about 15 people there at the 8 pm show (Sunday of a 3 day weekend in the San Fernando Valley). Had it been well -publicized, I think they could have packed the place.

meno said...

Adding it to my netflix list.

Reminds me of a line in "Judge Dredd" (a perfectly awful sci-fi movie w/Sylvester Stalone) when the main character wakes up after many years "In the future, all restaurants are Taco Bell."

Now that's scary.

super des said...

I love Mike Judge (and Luke Wilson), and something tells me it will be playing in NYC. Stupid fox. Even when I don't watch tv I know movies exist!

Anonymous said...

Now I'm intrigued, I'll have to go see it.

Anonymous said...

there were 5 people in the theater when we went last thursday. that included me and my husband.
i liked it. i think i am pushed to tell people about it because other people are trying to squish it. it deserves a fair shot.

Anonymous said...

I've seen it twice in Austin and as for theater capacity, the Friday night showing was sold out this past weekend at the Alamo Drafthouse. While it's not a great movie, there's something really irresistable about idiots run amock. Oh and if you go see it, try to read any background signs you notice, there's a lot of detail in there.

Anonymous said...

Where can I find Brawndo and does it come in Pints?

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