2006Director: Mike Judge
Cast: Luke Wilson, Maya Rudolph
diocracy is the best movie you won’t see this year. Granted, it’s not your fault, as Fox has seemingly made it their goal to drive the film’s director and co-writer Mike Judge to the brink of insanity, by releasing it in only six cities. Neither of which include New York or San Francisco. Of course, this is the same logic that led to Office Space being seen in theaters by about 12 people, before becoming one of the most quoted movies of all time. (If one more person mentions their “O-Face,” I might have an aneurysm.)
Sadly, Judge’s Office Space follow-up has been met with the same unenthusiastic response from many critics, while most moviegoers will inevitably be singing its praises when it comes out on DVD, which I imagine will be quite soon, considering the movie has grossed less than $1 million thus far. All this, in spite of the fact that Idiocracy might be the sharpest satire yet released this decade. In fact, it’s nothing short of genius.
With a plot seemingly ripped from the pages of a Phillip K. Dick or Kurt Vonnegut novel, Idiocracy tells the story of Joe Bowers (Luke Wilson, who miraculously manages to redeem himself for My Super Ex-Girlfriend), the most average man in America. Thanks to his profile (no wife or close relatives), Bowers is cryogenically frozen by the government. The experiment is only supposed to last for a year, but when the Army Base that conducted the research is shut down and replaced by a Fuddrucker's, Wilson is forgotten about. When he finally awakens, the year is 2505 and mankind has devolved to such a level that Wilson is now the smartest man on earth.
From this premise, Judge spins a dystopian fantasy of an America gone to seed. The president is a five-time "Smackdown" champion and former porn star. Everyone is dressed in corporate-sponsored apparel and Zubaz pants. Meanwhile, corporations have taken over. The phone company has merged with several media companies, the U.S. government and, of course, Carl's Jr.. Costco is home to the one of the nation's finest law schools and doubles as the central hub of civilization.
Due to mankind's lack of intellect, the streets are covered in mounds of trash and the nation's crops are fallow since water is something only used in toilets. (People only quench their thirst with energy drinks.) Judge's bleak vision of the future is alternately chilling and hysterical; one doesn't know whether the appropriate reaction is to laugh or cry. Judge also manages to not only knock the rampant, unchecked state of American consumerism, but also the deterioration of our health care system, American militarism, and political correctness. In short, the man touches all the bases.
Earlier, I compared Judge’s film to the work of Vonnegut and Dick. I meant it. This film’s satire is that vicious, brilliant, and unsparing. With Idiocracy, Judge has submitted his magnum opus. If at any point over the past six years, you’ve been discouraged by the state of the nation, I advise you to see this film. And even if you haven’t (is that possible?), see it anyway.
Idiocracy is currently playing in limited release.