Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Movie: Idiocracy (2006)

Mike Judge’s satire met a bizarre fate last year. Numerous delays in its release date, followed by a truncated theatrical run in a half-dozen markets with no promotion of any kind. Yesterday’s home video debut – slated for right after the holidays, when nobody’s paying much attention – was my first chance to see the movie. I jumped on it at once. If Idiocracy turns out to be another cult smash like Judge’s last movie, the justly-revered Office Space, I want in on the ground floor.

Judge had me at the premise. A soldier scientifically proven to be the most average man in the U.S. Army (Luke Wilson) is drafted to be the guinea pig in a short-term hibernation experiment. He awakens in 2505 to discover that society has become so dumbed-down that he is the smartest person on Earth. By, like, a lot. In Judge’s future, justice is meted out by monster trucks, the President is an ultimate fighting champ/porn star, and a doctor renders his diagnosis of Wilson’s character thusly: “Your shit’s all retarded.”

At least one critic has called Idiocracy “easily the most potent political film of the year, and the most stirring defense of traditional values since Edmund Burke’s Reflections on the Revolution in France.” I wouldn’t go that far. Considering that Burke’s scathing indictment of the abstract foundations of the Revolution was later used to condemn any form of socialist government, I think it’s fair to suggest that Burke’s shit was all retarded, too.

Idiocracy’s skimpy plot makes Office Space look like Chinatown. But its vision of tomorrow – this dystopia brought to you by NASCAR – is every bit as meticulously conceived and terrifying as the one in Children of Men; if anything it’s more plausible. I laughed myself stupid, which only makes me part of the problem.