Released with almost no notice in late 2006, Mike Judge’s (director of Office Space, King of the Hill, Beavis and Butthead) Idiocracy is a lowbrow satire about one possible American future. Judge’s plot is a little rough, feeling like it was constructed with Duplos when Legos were truly needed. Nonetheless, the movie is a sometimes-fun journey into a true pessimist’s version of America’s future.
Idiocracy tells the story of Joe Bauers, an average American played by Luke Wilson, who is frozen in time by the military and wakes up in the year 2503. In the future, he finds an America full of what are best described as dumb people. This has occurred because, according to Judge, dumb people multiply like rabbits, while the educated never do. Thus, the “logical” outcome is that America becomes full of people who’s favorite television show involves nothing more than seeing a man hit in the crotch over and over and over.
With this simple idea, Judge paints an interesting, if incredibly simplistic, moral tale. His basic message is “Think.” Judge encourages his audience to aspire to more than the most mundane trivialities of life, though he uses a sledge hammer to drive the point home.
Judge doesn’t let all the blame fall to non-thinkers however, he also decries corporations (not the least of which is Fox) and the lies they tell to sell merchandise. Allegedly, it is this insult to the film’s producers at Fox, that led to the film’s small-scale release. And Judge pulls no punches, even when the result is exceptionally banal, like the morphing of the Fuddrucker’s hamburger chain into the most obvious double-expletive.
Judge plea that even average people think more, is inspired by Bauer’s role in the future. It’s surely no accident that Judge chose for America of 2503 to be saved by an “average” man, and not a modern genius.
What Idiocracy lacks in clarity and tenderness, it tries to cover for with a few jokes. Though the jokes are never side-splittingly hilarious, they are worth a chuckle or two.
Overall, though Idiocracy is coarse, it’s not terrible. It’s slightly simplistic, in both its humor and its message, but it does manage to entertain. And for a movie that was essentially neglected by its studio and given the most limited release they could muster, that’s not so bad.