Forget the fact that you've never heard of this movie. It's one of the funniest movies of 2006.
Never heard of this film, you say? Well, you are not alone, and that’s the way Fox wants it. Released in total secrecy to barely over 100 screens nationwide last Fall, Mike Judge’s (Beavis and Butthead, Office Space) second feature was deemed too smart for the mainstream by the execs at Fox. At least, that’s the way it seemed. Shot in 2004, it was shelved for two years before last year’s dumping. Fox did a similar thing with Judge’s prior cult smash, Office Space, a movie that few had heard of before DVD. Whether Idiocracy eventually catches on in a similar way remains to be seen.
Idiocracy is a biting social satire that is poignant, comical and downright frightening. Luke Wilson stars as the ultimate “average” guy, a military flunky chosen for a sleep deprivation experiment. Maya Rudolph is a working girl chosen as the perfect “average” girl. When it goes awry, the two wake up 500 years in the future. Society has been dumbed-down to a staggering level, where corporate sponsorship rules all. The number one movie is called, simply, A** - and that’s all it is for two hours; fountains now dispense a Gatorade-like drink instead of water; Carl’s Jr. has ATM-type machines to dispense their “Big-A** fries;” the President is akin to “Macho Man” Savage; and the world’s garbage problem has grown out of control, resulting in the great Garbage-alanche.
Idiocracy is not necessarily a classic comedy quite on par with Office Space, but it is full of laughs, if only a tad bit uneven. On that note, it’s been reported that the final cut was taken out of Judge’s hands and “dumbed down,” which is pretty ironic in and of itself. Exactly what parts were changed is not totally clear, and since this DVD fails to offer any real extras to shed light on the making of the movie, the mystery remains.
Without question, Idiocracy is funnier than many of the terrible comedies given wide theatrical release (RV, anyone?), so the relatively bizarre promotional campaign by Fox, which was pretty much akin to pretending the movie didn’t really exist, is baffling. All I can imagine is that Judge and the powers that be butted heads at some stage of the production, and Fox set out to prove that they could easily bury a movie without their shareholders knowing the difference. Unconfirmed reports state that Fox may have gone as far as re-editing or re-shooting portions of the film. I’d love to see Judge’s original vision in-tact, but that’s extremely unlikely at best.
Fans of Judge’s past work will find a lot to like here. The tone is very similar to his other work and, frighteningly enough, many of his comments on a futuristically dumbed-down society aren’t all that far-fetched. Admittedly, I’m not a huge fan of Luke Wilson, but this part – as Mr. Average – suits him perfectly. Maya Rudolph is also very funny, as are bit players Dax Shepard and Justin Long.
Idiocracy is a very amusing comedy with some great comments on the not-so-great parts of modern society. After seeing the movie the first time and walking through the local mall, I couldn’t help noticing the striking similarities as I passed by assorted groups of baggy-panted hip-hoppers and text messaging valley girls. Scary stuff.
What’s on the Disc
Well, there isn’t a whole heck of a lot here. Just a short collection of deleted scenes. They are funny, but not terribly important.
Like the theatrical release, Fox put forth minimal effort. Unless this movie catches on like Office Space did, this is likely the last we’ll hear of this film. It’s a shame, because Fox had a much better movie on their hands than they seemed to realize. Instead, they inexplicably put their efforts into dreadful comedies such as Deck the Halls and the upcoming Epic Movie. Hmm, maybe they thought Judge’s social comments on dumbing down hit too close to home for Fox.