Synopsis: From Mike Judge, one of the creative minds behind Beavis and Butt-Head, King Of The Hill and Office Space, comes an outrageous sci-fi comedy that’ll make you think twice about the future of mankind.
Meet Joe Bowers (Luke Wilson). He’s not the sharpest tool in the shed. But when a government hibernation experiment goes awry, Bowers awakens in the year 2505 to find a society so dumbed-down by mass commercialism and mindless TV programming that he’s become the smartest guy on the planet. Now it’s up to an average Joe to get human evolution back on track!
Filled with razor-sharp sarcasm and outrageous sight gags, Idiocracy will make you laugh out loud whether you’re an absolute genius or a complete idiot!
eyelights: its hilarious satire of modern society. its prescience.
eyesores: its limited scope. its low budget.
“I know things are bad when they’re coming to me for answers.”
Whether Donald Trump is elected or not, the United States have likely crossed a point of no return. it’s one thing to have a former actor as a President, but it’s an altogether other beast to have a megalomaniacal sociopathic reality TV show host as President. This is the leadership of the free world, after all; not a bloody television show.
That he was even able to get as far as he did is indicative not just of the febrility of his opponents but of the lack of maturity of a large slice of the voting public. Would you let a petulant, spoiled child be in charge of your family’s finances? No, you wouldn’t. But, in the United States, a man-child can be given the keys to the kingdom.
When you think about it, it’s pretty troubling.
Mike Judge, creator of ‘Beavis and Butthead’, ‘King of the Hill’ and ‘Office Space‘ had somehow predicted it. In his 2005 satirical science fiction comedy, ‘Idiocracy’, Judge postulated that high-IQ couples bred far less than low-IQ couples did and, on that basis alone, it meant that someday the world would be largely populated by utter idiots.
Fast forward to the 26th century: Corporal Bauers wakes up from a military hibernation experiment to discover that the United States are overrun by morons. Once the most average candidate the Army could find, he’s now considered the most intelligent man in the world – and is seen as the United States’ only hope for escaping societal decay.
The fate of the free world now depends on Joe Average.
‘Idiocracy’ is a motion picture that didn’t find its audience at the time. For reasons that aren’t entirely clear, 20th Century Fox put the brakes on the picture after production, only releasing it in a little over a hundred cinemas – and also forgoing all traditional promotion of the picture. ‘Idiocracy’ had essentially been buried by Fox.
But it got a second life on home video, becoming a cult favourite. Personally, I’d ignored it just because it’s a Mike Judge film (I’m no great fan of ‘Beavis and Butthead’), but I kept hearing great things about it over the years – notably in a local Blockbuster video store. This was tapered by friends who felt it was merely okay, not at all brilliant.
This election cycle, though, people constantly referenced it (Hmmm… I wonder why…).
So I just had to check it out.
Well, it turns out that I enjoyed it a lot more than I thought I would. Blame it on lowered expectations, blame it on the election, which highlighted the very problems discussed here, but I got a lot of laughs out of it. In fact, I watched it with some friends, and the ones who had warned me against it found it far more enjoyable this time around.
The set-up alone is enough elicit giggles if not guffaws: narrated by what appears to be the same guy who narrated the opening to ‘Baseketball‘, it explains how the future became so damned dumbed down, showing moderate IQ-ed couples justifying their limited propagation whereas low IQ-ed spread their seed and legs like out-of-control bunnies.
The picture then shows us how society gradually devolved, to the point that Fuddruckers’ name eventually becomes Buttfuckers, and is a kid-friendly restaurant. On a similar note, everything seems to be sexualized, with even Starbucks offering happy endings with their coffee. And Costco is so huge, that people need shuttles to get around.
Naturally, corporations have completely taken over. Brawndo, the Thirst Mutilator, has bought out the FDA and forced its product on a moronic public – so Brawndo is now found in water fountains everywhere instead of water. And they even began to water their crops with the stuff – which is why the country’s agriculture is in crisis.
Um… not that anyone has a clue that this is the problem.
It takes Bauers (a.k.a. Not Sure) to make the connections, once he’s arrested, barcoded and tested – after visiting St. God’s Memorial Hospital for help and refusing to pay the insane medical bills. And after escaping prison by outsmarting everyone there, in a scene that is reminiscent of the crucifixion bit at the end of ‘Life of Brian‘.
When Bauers is discovered to be the smartest person alive, President Camacho, a former wrestler, insists on making him the Secretary of the Interior. This leads to a series of complications, as Bauers goes head-to-head with Brawndo, crashes the economy and puts tons of people on the street – even though he’s doing the “smart” thing.
While I find many of the concepts in ‘Idiocracy’ very funny, sadly the movie suffers from a limited scope and a relatively small budget. One gets the feeling that Judge could have made a much better film if he’d been permitted to spend more money, showing us international idiocracy and taking Bauers through a few more hilarious scenarios.
But, given that it was made on give or take three million dollars, it’s pretty decent. After all, the picture’s not just about the gags, which are sometimes side-splitting, it has to show us the future, which includes garbage wastelands, crumbling infrastructure, and technology of the like we had better never see. They really stretched their budget.
And the laughs do come ample enough, indicating that Judge served a decent enough script – though most of the humour is at the expense of total numbskulls. It’s a world fashioned in the image of today’s white trash and surfdudes, people with no conception of the world outside their limited mindset – and that can offer endless derision.
But this may not be enough for all audiences. Though it makes some fine observations along the way, ‘Idiocracy’ ironically taps into the lowbrow side of its audience by reaching for such superficial humour. So it essentially perpetuates that which it decries – though not to the same degree as, say, a television show like ‘Ow, My Balls!’ does.
Still, it’s worth seeing, even if it can be very dumb; when one considers that, in 2016, the electorate has been so dumbed down that it could actually consider Conman Cheetos as their President, it’s almost a must. Mike Judge may not have had designs on divining the future, but it appears that he’s come close – closer than he’d ever anticipated.
Or ever would have wanted.
As fiction, ‘Idiocracy’ is a hilarious satire of modern North American society.
As reality, however, it’s f-ing terrifying.
Date of viewing: October 9, 2016