Review: “Idiocracy” (2006)

“Welcome to Costco. I love you.”
~~ Costco greeter

Films about the future have a tendency to push certain rather optimistic ideas: technological advancement; heightened intelligence; evolution. Even those with less-than-positive views of time forthcoming, like “A Clockwork Orange,” depict humans as creatures still capable of higher-order thinking skills. They are capable of affecting technological change. In so many futuristic movies, progress is assumed.

You know what Mike Judge thinks about directors and moviegoers who make assumptions? Rearrange the order of “ass” and “u” in and you’ll have a clearer picture. Or just watch “Idiocracy,” Judge’s hilarious, barbed satire masquerading as a crude, rude, doorknob-dumb comedy. Judge, see, he does not pity the fool who harbors bright dreams and aspirations for the future of mankind. His future contains no advancement or progress. His future contains a movie called “Ass,” an Oscar darling (it won Best Screenplay) that spends 90 minutes with the camera trained on naked buttocks. And let’s not forget The Violence Channel’s most popular show, “Ow My Balls!”

Don’t be misled by gags like this, or the hoards of idiots and the idiotic things they say (example: “Why come you got no tattoo?”); satires don’t come much sharper than “Idiocracy.” Judge’s true genius lies in the fact that he can make movies that look dumb and inconsequential but carry the unmistakable sting of truth. (Think back to Johnny Knoxville’s “Jackass.” Did you watch it? Did you laugh? Are you getting that sick feeling in the pit of your stomach yet?) The “Office Space” creator is blithely unafraid to show the future as he sees it: a tragic dumbing-down of mankind. Joe (Luke Wilson), a military man, becomes his mouthpiece. Average in every way, Joe volunteers, along with prostitute Rita (Maya Rudolph), for a secret government hibernation project. I’m sure you know it goes wrong. Joe and Rita wake up 500 years in the future, in 2505, and discover something is missing from the world, something called “all the smart people.” How did this happen? The narrator (Earl Mann, cheeky little devil) anticipated this question and has an answer ready: “Evolution does not necessarily reward intelligence. With no natural predators to thin the herd, it began to simply reward those who reproduced the most, and left the intelligent to become an endangered species.”

The wall-to-wall hilarity in “Idiocracy” develops as Joe and Rita discover that they are part not of an endangered species but an extinct species. Only Mike Judge could dream up a world like this one, where the U.S. president (Terry Crews) begins his presidential addresses with one word (“shiiiiiiiiiit”); holds a contest to elect the Secretary of Energy and thinks the 12-year-old winner (Brendan Hill) is a safe bet; has a Secretary of Treasury (Sara Rue) everyone calls “Fun Bags”; and sees no problem watering crops nationwide with an energy drink — Brawndo, which actually exists — because “it’s got what plants crave: electrolytes.” Joe and Rita, two Einsteins in a world of Forrest Gumps, find a totally inept guide in Frito (Dax Shepard), who went to law school at Costco (only because his father, an alum, pulled strings). Joe’s brain catches the eye of the president, and soon he’s embroiled in a race to save himself from certain death in a prison smackdown by solving the whole country’s problems.

“Idiocracy” is such a comic gem that it’s difficult to know where the fun starts and ends. The endless parade of moronical characters is a joy to behold, with Shepard proving again his ability to play dumb is second only to Lisa Kudrow’s. Crews and his “cabinet” (including David “Michael Bolton” Herman) have a ball waxing dumb, and their spirit is catching. Running gags like the one about Brawndo — it’s got what (fill in the blank) crave — don’t get old because they’re so blatantly on point. Most crucial to the looniness is Luke Wilson as Joe, the quintessential no-frills Everyman. His shock and disgust at this world of Starbucks handjobs and Brawndo drinking fountains is muted enough to draw big laughs. And dread. For when the laughing stops, “Idiocracy” leaves us with a sense that not only is this future inevitable, it might be here already. Brought to you by Carl’s Jr., no doubt.

Grade: A

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21 Responses

  1. […] Review: “Idiocracy” (2006) « M. Carter @ the Movies […]

  2. It’s nice to see you standing up for your surprising DVD island pick! I thought the film was maybe too over the top in terms of showing how idiotic people had turned. I wish it had been more subtle. The casting was also a downer with Luke Wilson who never really did anything for me and Maya Rudolph was an unappealing “co-star”. Put a decent couple leads and it probably would have been much better for most people. Anyways, good review, you have now lost all your credibility muahahahah! (kidding of course)

  3. I ran for a seat in the House Of Representin’ once.

    Oddly enough, this movie is way, way better than Extract, which actually received a legitimate cinematic release. Idiocracy was in theaters for about five minutes.

    I like money.

    • @ Castor — Awwww, that’s the nicest thing you ever said to me. I didn’t know I HAD credibility to lose! I think Luke Wilson is kind of a boring leading man but that worked for me here.

      @ Cinematically Correct — If you’ll recall, you hear a heckler yell “South Carolina, what’s up?” A proud moment for my home state. And I can’t believe you like money too. We should hang out.

  4. RE: Luke Wilson. Exactly. He was perfectly cast here, as a generic, average, boring dude. Who better (that’s also a “star” could have fit those qualities?

    The more words that are written about this movie and the more people that see it as a result, the better we’re off as a society, even if it sometimes turns me idiotic, running around giggling like Beavis while saying “I like money.” Hell, I think that’s my “words about me” on my FB profile. 😀

    This movie is pure brilliance, and I’ll defend it till the end. Such a shame about Extract.

    • Fitz, you and me should form a club. We will convert all these haters (see McG, below) into flag-waving fans of “Idiocracy.” I wish I could make more people like “Extract,” though, which I thought was low-key and not Judge’s best but still sporadically funny (Ben Affleck’s the man).

      I have to believe that “The Un” would approve of it as well.

  5. very generous grade M Carter. its okay but badly executed. just stick King of the Hill on instead
    House A Representin’
    haha… that is funny though

  6. CostCo?

    Yeah I got my law degree here.

  7. It’s okay…smart, in a way, but I wasn’t in the mood for satire when I last watched it.

  8. Welcome to Costco. I love you
    hehe, thats funny too. i love this movie

  9. […] Review: “Idiocracy” (2006) « M. Carter @ the Movies […]

  10. A movie like this has no room for subtlety as idiocy is not subtle at all. It hits you on the head with a frying pan, berates you non stop with a loud and vicious voice (all the while spewing droplets of moron juice) all over your face, and leaves you feeling broken and impotent. If idiocy had subtlety then it would be called something else, like cleverness or slyness, but by definition it cannot be subtle, and that is just one of the things that makes this movie work so well.

  11. Here’s a flick I let pass by, sounds funny though. Now all I’ve got to do is dig around and find it so I can check it out. I think I’d enjoy a movie about idiots!

    • @ Unruly — Right-o. I hope that anyone who rents or buys a movie called “Idiocracy” would go in expecting a deluge of nuance. Not gonna happen. Sometimes you don’t want nuance. Sometimes you want the obvious, and lots of it.

      @ Film Reel — Definitely worth a watch. It’s on Comedy Central (if you have cable) fairly often, but of course they cut out all the language that makes the movie so funny. Go for Netflix or even buy it. If you enjoy lines the ones in the review and the ones we keep quoting above, you’ll like “Idiocracy.”

  12. […] Posts Review: "Idiocracy" (2006)My thought on todayNo. 32: "Happiness" (1998)Desert Island DVDs: The Big […]

  13. Such an underrated movie — except it seemed to lose a little steam at the end. And it has the evil Dax-from-Punk’d.

    “Right, kick ass. Well, don’t want to sound like a dick or nothin’, but, ah… it says on your chart that you’re fucked up. Ah, you talk like a fag, and your shit’s all retarded. What I’d do, is just like… like… you know, like, you know what I mean, like… ”

    –The Doctor

  14. Funny, brilliant, well written, and well acted.

    What more can one ask for? Your review hit the nail on the head, and it was no surprise you’d be smooth enough to add this to your island pics (possibly to remind yourself that being solo on the island may not actually be so bad-ha). Excellent film.

    • This movie is nothing but a bundle of wonderful lines to work into everyday conversation. The only problem is not many people have seen it, so when I say things about “The Un” or “I like money,” they just think I’m simple.

      • I kind of enjoy saying things people don’t understand. If they happen to be quotes from movies, all the better. Then I at least have an excuse for my random explosions of expressiveness. 😉

  15. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Jackass Fanboy. Jackass Fanboy said: Review: “Idiocracy” (2006) « M. Carter @ the Movies: (Think back to Johnny Knoxville's “Jackass.” Did you watch it… http://bit.ly/8YfP7Y […]

  16. […] I is for “Idiocracy” […]

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