16 October 2006

Idiocracy

Idiocracy is Mike Judge’s new live action movie. Well, I say “new”; I gather it was pretty much finished in 2004, and since then he has been battling with 20th Century Fox to get it released. Right now, it’s showing in a handful of cities, probably a contractual obligation release before it gets shuffled off to DVD or buried outright. One of the cities is Austin, so we went to see it last night.

The premise of the story is the observation that smart people pretty much aren’t having children, while mouth-breathing idiots can’t seem to stop doing so. A supremely average guy from the army is chosen to be the subject of a suspended animation experiment in 2005. Unfortunately, after he is put into the suspension chamber the military end up forgetting about it, and our hero wakes up in the year 2505—and discovers that the world has gotten so dumb that he’s now the smartest person on the planet.

So we get to see a future where the cities are like giant trailer parks, the only clothing that exists is sports gear festooned with dozens of corporate logos, and nobody can even comprehend the idea of drinking water without coloring, sugar and flavoring added. Language has devolved into strings of rap clichés, disconnected phrases, and grunts, and the President is a pro wrestler.

I laughed more than I have in months. The pace starts to flag after about two thirds of the movie, but it’s still pretty damn entertaining if you like satire. On the other hand, if you’re the kind of person who thinks monster truck rallies are legitimate entertainment, then you’re probably not going to appreciate having so many barbs fired in your direction.

Celebrity-obsessed entertainment publications like JAM! Showbiz and Entertainment Weekly have panned the movie, all too aware that it sets out to mock their readers. It rips into Hollywood too, and has made a few corporations unhappy. Starbucks seem to have taken the jokes in their stride, like they did with Austin Powers, but Pepsico have clearly forbidden any of their trademarked logos from being shown in the movie. As such, the Negativland Dispepsi approach is followed, with significantly disguised parody logos being used and the real product name referred to only verbally. I daresay a good few jokes were removed or muted by the corporate censors too.

Still, probably worth going to see, and definitely worth renting on DVD.

© mathew 2017