For the film Idiocracy, Mike Judge takes the audience five hundred years into the future and pushes to the extremes when it comes to the phrase “the dumbing down of America.” In 2505 there are trash avalanches, nothing but fast food and sport drinks, a decline in the English language, and most of the often overweight or over-clevagaed extras are played with IQ’s barely above 70. Basically the path it seems we’re already heading down has come to fruition.
Originally titled The United States of Uhh-merica, Judge is sending a strong message about our potential quality of life if we continue this way. Unfortunately, the format Judge has chosen to discuss his views is film. Unfortunately again, he forgot to include a continuously leading plot line.
While the movie Idiocracy is pretty sharp around the edges, the tale that goes with it is dull, doesn’t push the story along, and lacks in continuity. I know you can’t always get what you want but there are so many odd twists and turns and repeats of events in this film that is seems some of the “adventures” that happen to the main character are merely the means in which to get to the other societal jab Judge wants to make. Now, it’s his film, so I don’t fault him for wanting to make the jabs, I just wish the presentation was a little more subtle in transition and useful. The main character, Joe, played by Luke Wilson ends up in jail about three times, Maya Rudolph’s character floats conveniently in and out of the story, and towards the end the most obvious and predictable events do take place.
If we look back, most ‘man trapped in another time’ stories we’ve seen in the movies involve the story of a man on a mission. This movie has that: Joe wants to go home. The problem is that Joe really wants to go home and then gets distracted, over and over again. Joe has an ADD ability to concentrate and yet the audience is expected to follow the film through the whole duration. There are great, funny moments in the film; Justin Long plays a hilarious doctor, David Herman is the Secretary of State, and Luke Wilson paired with Maya Rudolph have great comedic timing. It’s clear the characterization is there, but the story is weak in comparison to the strength of Judge’s intention.
In spite of all this, the movie isn’t entirely bad, it does have its good points. Anytime Joe talks about water, either to drink or to use on plants, someone inevitably states, “you mean like out of the toilet?” These are great bits of wit and stings the beverage industry at the same time. All fast food service has become the job of a machine that while taking your order ridicules you for not having enough money. The best show on television is “Ow, My Balls” where one man continually falls into situations that, guess what, nail him in his junk. There are tons of subtle slams littered throughout Idiocracy and they’re great, and fitting, and perfectly placed, but the plot takes away from all of these and makes the movie tough to get through.
Idiocracy has a lot to offer as far as social commentary goes and Mike Judge keeps up his opinion without pausing to worry about what others will think. That’s what makes him so good. But, unlike his other film and the lasting effect of Office Space and its cast of characters, Idiocracy won’t be so loved and memorable. It’s a good film for the time that it is running, but after the movie is over, it is not so endearing. Idiocracy is definitely a film to watch, but not necessarily a DVD to buy.
The real issue with Idiocracy on DVD is the fact that any notion of special features seems to have been ignored. The only extra materials on the disc are five deleted scenes that aren’t that great anyway. It just seems to be more disappointing than anything else to not have anything additional to watch after seeing the movie. If ever there was a film that needs an audio commentary by the director/writer/producer it’s this one. Why would someone create a film this far out there and not provide a commentary to explain themself or at least take responsibility?
Aside from the commentary issue, or lack thereof, there are plenty of “name” actors in the film that all could have done interviews on the side for the camera. Luke Wilson, Maya Rudolph, Justin Long, David Herman, Dax Shepard, Terry Crews, Thomas Haden Church, Stephen Root, the list goes on. Any of them would do. Just have them talk, talk about anything, talk about something, talk about the movie, the other actors, their dentists for all I care. The point to the DVD and what makes it superior to tape (in my opinion) is the extras and the ability to see those behind-the-scenes clips. The How-To’s of filmmaking, the,…well,…extras.
With Idiocracy it’s certainly not the case that there would have been nothing to show on the disc. So far, it seems Idiocracy has received the same early treatment as did Office Space with a narrow release in theaters and a little to no publicity for the DVD. Later, after it caught on and viewers realized what they missed out on earlier, suddenly we have collector’s editions with staplers selling like hot cakes. Now, while I can’t imagine what would be in a collector’s edition of Idiocracy I would not be surprised if in a year or so we get a new edition of this film loaded with extras and a round sticker on the cellophane to prove it.