Thursday, March 06, 2014
Originally Written and Posted at Epinions.com on 9/26/07 w/ Additional Edits & Revisions.
Directed by Mike Judge and written by Judge and Etan Cohen, Idiocracy tells the story of an Army serviceman and a prostitute who both take part in an army experiment where more than 500 years later, they arrive to see that their world has become dumber as the man finds himself to be the smartest person alive. A satire about culture and the de-evolution of the world, Judge's sophomore feature film shows his knack for humor as well as the wittiness of his debut feature. Starring Luke Wilson, Maya Rudolph, Dax Shepard, Terry Crews, Justin Long, and featuring appearances from Judge associates Stephen Root and David Herman. Idiocracy is a witty satire on the world that is ravaged by stupidity.
The film is a satirical comedy set 500 years from the present time where the world has gone completely stupid where an Army serviceman named Joe (Luke Wilson) and a hooker named Rita (Maya Rudolph) are both awaken from a top-secret Army experiment where they supposed to be frozen for a year inside two pods. Instead, a series of unfortunate circumstances has Joe and Rita be the smartest people on Earth as the English language has deteriorated into a mixture of hillbilly, slang, valley girl, and grunts while the world drinks a drink known as Brawndo that claims to have electrolytes. For Joe, he must use his average knowledge to save the world from further stupidity where he would encounter things such as TV shows like Ow! My Balls!, a film called Ass, all brought to you by Carl Jr.'s, Buttfuckers with its big-ass fries, and all sorts of dumb shit.
Mike Judge's concept of the world gone stupid is definitely an ambitious one in comparison to his debut film Office Space. Yet, the story about an average man finding himself in a world where he's the smartest man alive is definitely one that is both downright hilarious and shocking at the same time. The comedy that includes some extremely funny, lowbrow dialogue where people would say "I like money", "Shut up! I'm 'batin", 'You talk like a fag", and "I like money" in a drawl that can be described in a hybrid of Hillbilly, Valley Girl, inner-city slang, and grunts. Another factor that is funny is how corporations are handled where a Costco would end up taking an entire city or Starbucks offering hand-jobs along with other places. Plus, Carl's Jr. would have a slogan that says "Fuck you, I'm eating" and Fuddruckers' had its named changed to Buttfuckers.
The result is a highly original yet funny vision of the future. What's more shocking is that it's also true in some ways. The script that Judge and Etan Cohen creates is filled with hilarious scenes and such yet underneath it is some social commentary on pop culture and people's obsession with it. Now, there's nothing necessarily wrong with watching a guy getting kicked in the nuts or watching a bare-naked ass farting. The problem is that it gets old after a few minutes. Not to the people in this film where the #1 grossing movie for the past few years that also one several Oscars is a movie called Ass. 90 minutes of a bare-naked butt farting maybe funny to some but for someone that has intelligence might find it funny for a while but not for the rest of the film.
Judge's direction of dystopian with CGI-imagery of a town gone horribly bad. Architecture looking very messed up, mountains of trash, and the Washington monument looking very slanted. His vision of the future is actually horrifying to watch because it might actually come true. What happen to the scientists in that film? Well, they end up looking for the cure of hair loss and such. The idea of de-evolution through Judge's camera is very haunting as is the narration by Earl Mann is to remind the audience of how dumb the world has become. Even mentioning that Brawndo has ended up replacing all the food groups and such.
Despite the film's high concept and commentary, it is flawed due to a few pacing issues when things aren't being funny. Plus, some of the humor isn't as good as Office Space but what Judge does is truly original. Especially since his dystopian vision is starting to come true unfortunately. Even with pop culture. Today, people have no idea who Ingmar Bergman, Marcel Marceau, Robert Altman, Andy Warhol, or even Afrikka Bambatta (he's still alive as of 2014) are or what have they done. Hell, it's amazing that ten years ago, some movies have gotten dumber by the minute.
Instead of people going to see a movie like Grindhouse or maybe something intellectual as Talk to Me, they go see something as dumb as Wild Hogs or Are We Done Yet? Plus, how have we gone from Smells Like Teen Spirit to My Humps? There's a line that Rita says about Albert Einstein, "Do you think Einstein thought the whole world was full of dumb shits?" Joe replies, "Maybe that's why he build the atomic bomb". This is what Judge seems to say about intellectuals and their stance on the world and sadly, it's starting to come true.
Cinematographer Tim Suhrstedt brings a grainy yet saturated look to the film's cinematography to convey the bleakness of the film with its dark, shady colors and sepia imagery. Production designer Darren Gilford and art director William Ladd Skinner do amazing work in some of the film's set designs with dirty-looking buildings and places covered in trash. Costume designer Debra McGuire's futuristic clothing is inspiring and also cheesy with everyone wearing shiny-like t-shirts and baggy pants where the future has also lost it sense of fashion. Editor David Rennie brings a nice, intense look to the film including some of the dramatic reactions to the film's dystopian tone. Sound editor Michael J. Benavente also plays to the atmosphere in bringing noise of explosions and grunts that work very well. Visual effects supervisor Kent Johnson's look of the future is amazing, even a shot of a bridge that's already broken and such. Composer Theodore Shapiro brings a score that's dominated by country-like acoustic guitar to play up the film's humor as well as a mix of music featuring metal and reggae.
The film's cast is unique in playing up to the film's comedy. Small appearances from director Mike Judge as the Army officer Collins, Bottle Rocket's Robert Musgrave as an Army sergeant, rapper Scarface as Rita's pimp Upgrayed, Sara Rue as a bimbo attorney general, Danny Cochran as the idiotic Secretary of Education, and in the roles of the unfortunate yuppie couple in the film's intro, Darlene Hunt and Patrick Fischler are funny. Cameo appearances from Stephen Root, David Herman, Thomas Haden Church, and Justin Long are very funny along with Luke's older brother Andrew in a great cameo as the flame-throwing gladiator Beef Supreme. In the role of the U.S. president, Terry Crews gives a hilarious, energetic performance as President Camacho with his long, heavy-metal wig and exuberance that makes him one of the most overlooked comedy actors.
Dax Shepard is extremely funny as the dim-witted lawyer Frito Pendejo. His last name in Spanish means stupid, which is even funnier. With his hillbilly accent, Shepard makes every moment worth laughing about in how he responds to situations, talk, and all sorts of hijinks. He along with Crews are some of the film's best supporting performances. Maya Rudolph is also funny in her role as Rita, a hooker who finds her old job becoming too easy while becoming aware that she too, is smarter than everyone except Joe. Rudolph does great supporting work as she becomes the only person that Joe can really talk to. Luke Wilson is great in his role as Joe, an average guy who is thrust into a situation as he ends up being the smartest man alive. Wilson's mix of subtle humor and drama proved to be the right tone as his remains one of the most overlooked performances of 2006.
While not as strong or as funny as Mike Judge's debut film Office Space, Idiocracy is still one of the funniest and smartest comedies of 2006 thanks to some great performances from Luke Wilson, Maya Rudolph, Dax Shepard, and Terry Crews along with Judge's high-concept. Fans of Judge's work will no doubt enjoy the film's humor and satire but for a general audience. It might seem too much or rather from their point of view, "very pompous & faggy". Intellectuals might think the film isn't serious enough or rather way too serious yet it's a film that is a mirror in the ways of how people have been dumbed down lately by pop culture such. In the end, Idiocracy is a must-see for anyone who wants smart satire that is also downright hilarious.
Mike Judge Films: (Beavis & Butt-Head Do America) - (Office Space) - (Extract)
© thevoid99 2014