Idiocracy

Idiocracy

2006, R, 84 min. Directed by Mike Judge. Starring Luke Wilson, Maya Rudolph, Dax Shepard, Terry Alan Crews, Sara Rue, David Herman, Brad "Scarface" Jordan.

REVIEWED By Marjorie Baumgarten, Fri., Sept. 8, 2006

Ironically, Judge's latest film, which has been shelved since its completion two years ago and now dumped by Twentieth Century Fox at the very end of the summer, with no advance word, is the recipient of the kind of asinine treatment that is commonplace in the dystopic future imagined in Idiocracy. Judge's future exists 500 years from now and postulates a dumbed-down world of mediocrity in which stupidity and sloth are the dominant human traits and anyone who uses sentences instead of monosyllabic grunts to communicate is considered "faggy." It's as if Beavis and Butt-head have come to rule America. But no, in Idiocracy the president of the United States is a former smackdown champ (Crews), who rules over a country that has grown so stupid as to know nothing about growing crops or dealing with garbage. Judge has always had an impeccable ear for satirizing modern American stupidity, be it with the Beavis and Butt-head cartoons, Office Space, or King of the Hill. The problem with Idiocracy, more than with Office Space (which only achieved cult popularity in video release), is that the gags are often better than the scenes that contain them. The humor is delicious from the get-go as an offscreen narrator (Earl Mann) relates the tale of how humanity bred itself into stupidity and how an Army hibernation experiment is forgotten when the base is decommissioned, leaving Joe (Wilson) and Rita (Rudolph) to wake up 500 years in the future to discover they are now the smartest people on Earth. Along the way, the film takes shots at a slew of products and brands, among them Fuddruckers, Starbucks, Carl's Jr., Costco, and Fox News (with a bold bite-the-hand-that-feeds-'em swagger). Perhaps some of this helps explain the reasons for the film's denigrating release. It is certainly no less competent than any number of artless works we've seen in theatres of late. And it is certainly more conceptually inspired than most. It has a moral too: Stay in school and read books, return to the kind of stories in which you at least knew who was farting, and moreover cared. The delivery in Idiocracy is frequently flat, but its vision is dead-on.

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for almost 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

READ MORE
More Mike Judge
The World Is Flat
The World Is Flat
How 'King of the Hill' helped make Texas three-dimensional again

Cindy Widner, Sept. 11, 2009

Will Work for Laughs
Will Work for Laughs
Mike Judge clocks in with 'Extract'

Marc Savlov, Aug. 28, 2009

More Mike Judge
Who Trolls the Trolls?
Who Trolls the Trolls?
Austin filmmaker claims HBO's Silicon Valley ripped off his film

Richard Whittaker, June 8, 2017

Small Screen, Big News
Small Screen, Big News
Time Warner threatened, plus Mike Judge and more

Monica Riese, May 23, 2013

More Mike Judge Films
Extract
Mike Judge, the writer/director of Office Space, mines the workplace for more satiric comedy.

Marjorie Baumgarten, Sept. 4, 2009

Office Space
White-collar prisoners of the corporate office will recognize themselves in this very funny, Austin-lensed movie.

Marjorie Baumgarten, Feb. 19, 1999

More by Marjorie Baumgarten
Ash Is Purest White
The emotional cost of a life of crime across two decades in Northern China

March 22, 2019

The Wedding Guest
A simmering thriller of international abduction and pursuit

March 22, 2019

KEYWORDS FOR THIS FILM

Idiocracy, Mike Judge, Luke Wilson, Maya Rudolph, Dax Shepard, Terry Alan Crews, Sara Rue, David Herman, Brad "Scarface" Jordan

MORE IN THE ARCHIVES
NEWSLETTERS
One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Can't keep up with happenings around town? We can help.

Austin's queerest news and events

Updates for SXSW 2019

All questions answered (satisfaction not guaranteed)

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle