Private Joe Bauers, the definition of "average American", is selected by the Pentagon to be the guinea pig for a top-secret hibernation program. Forgotten, he awakes 500 years in the future. He discovers a society so incredibly dumbed-down that he's easily the most intelligent person alive.
Directed by: Mike Judge
. Starring: Luke Wilson
, Maya Rudolph
, Dax Shepard
, Terry Crews
, Anthony 'Citric' Campos
, David Herman
, Sonny Castillo
, Kevin McAfee
, Robert Musgrave
, Michael McCafferty
, Christopher Ryan
, Justin Long
, Heath Jones
. Music by: Theodore Shapiro
This past week has been a telling week for American journalism and reporting. For one, a picture has surfaced online of Kim Kardashian's backside in an effort to "break the internet," so she claims; it's a picture that has been circulated, parodied, criticized, praised, and been widely talked about for the last few days everywhere from late night talk show banter to primetime Television news. Just yesterday, November 20th, 2014, President Barack Obama addressed the United States on his plan to respond to long-stagnant actions on immigration. It was a statement that was not shown by CBS, NBC, ABC, or Fox, some of the biggest news networks in the country. We have established this week that the media feels a moronic hashtag campaign from Kim Kardashian is more important to cover than sweeping legislation on immigration. If the alleged "idiocracy" in America hasn't started, I think this was the kickoff.
But I digress before I even technically began. The satirical brilliance and social commentary of Mike Judge's film Idiocracy was, at first, mentioned second to the inordinate amount of problems this particular film had getting a release and publicity. Judge was in the middle of a back-and-forth, neverending amount of negotiations for the film's advertising and release of theatrical trailers, often resulting in either stagnant developments or delayed release dates for the film. It became abundantly clear that 20th Century Fox, the film's distribution studio, had a film on their hands they had no idea how to market and no idea how to manage, resulting in a very quiet release and the high possibility of the film falling into obscurity.
Thankfully, Mike Judge has made a name for himself over the years, with the hilarious workplace satire Office Space, the MTV animated show Beavis and Butthead, and the true-to-Texas program King of the Hill, which was strong enough to give Idiocracy something of a cult following, despite all the trouble the film underwent to get a basic release. Some speculate the only release it even made it to theaters - albeit no more than one-hundred and thirty - was to fulfill Fox's contractual obligation to give films a theatrical release, regardless of how small, before releasing it to DVD. At the end of the day, despite earning the stamp of a cult following, Judge deserved far better treatment and more confidence from a studio he made a lot of money.
Focusing on the film itself, Idiocracy is a satire, portraying America in the year of 2505 where everyone has the IQ and the cognitive thought process of Beavis and Butthead. It all starts in present day, when Corporal Joe Bauers (Luke Wilson), a librarian for the U.S. Army, and a prostitute named Rita (Maya Rudolph), are selected to partake in an experiment that has Joe and Rita frozen in time by Joe's commanding officer (Michael McCafferty). When the officer is arrested one day, the experiment is abandoned and Joe and Rita are frozen in time for the next five-hundred years, finally awaking in the year 2505. Joe awakens after the chamber he was frozen in crashes through the apartment of Frito Pendejo (Dax Shepard). Joe awakens to find a society that is completely inept and moronic, void of any intellectual curiosity or intelligence whatsoever.
Joe is eventually caught for not having a mandatory arm-tattooed, which is applied by a machine, which also grants him the name "Not Sure" by a technical error. He finds Rita, who is paranoid about finding her old pimp "Upgrayedd" (Brad Jordan) and paying him back, despite the fact that he has been dead for hundreds of years, and tries to find a way to a rumored time machine that will take him back to when he was put to rest. In order to do that, however, he must cooperate with an unrealistically stupid society, run by the incompetent President Chambers (Terry Crews), who discovers that Joe is the smartest person in the country and advises him to fix all the problems with the new America.
For a film ripe with commentary and featuring various observations about American culture now and where it could be headed, Idiocracy is a surprisingly breezy watch, never hitting you over the head with an abundance of morals and being remarkably fun while equally sad and frustrating. The film shows a culture that is anti-science, anti-reason, anti-logic, and without any kind of a direction, simply being a haven of mouthbreathers to spew nonsense. It's a sad film to witness, and all I can hope is that it doesn't eventually become a documentary.
Judge knows how to tackle material like this, though, in order to make this a fun ordeal rather than plaguing us with frustration and neurosis about the future. He turns Idiocracy into a briskly-paced riot, filled with action, science-fiction, and comedy that is too funny to be called juvenile yet not high-brow enough to be dry-wit. He finds the middle ground of humor, and employing people like Wilson, Rudolph, and Shepard to play headlining roles allows for unconventional cinematic heroes to prosper. With that and more, Idiocracy is a great deal of fun, albeit frightening in the potential for it to become even marginally prophetic.
Starring: Luke Wilson, Maya Rudolph, Dax Shepard, Terry Crews, Michael McCafferty, and Brad Jordan.
Review by Steve Pulaski from the Internet Movie Database.