Jan 202007

Take an underachieving private, an overachieving prostitute, and a top secret Army experiment. They’re supposed to hibernate for a year. Instead they do so for 500 years, and awaken to find the country supersaturated in base pop culture, its denizens so slack-jawed stupid they can’t complete a thought or a sentence.

No, it’s not set in the present.

Our protagonist is given an intelligence test in prison, which reveals he is the smartest person in the world. He is then summoned to the White House for service. Hilarities ensue.

The top-rated television show is Ow, My Balls! The President of the United States is a five-time Ultimate Smackdown champion. Costco has a law school. Carl’s Jr. offers “extra big-ass fries.” You get it. There are hundreds of these gags. Some require a sharp eye. Laugh long and loud; reflect later, perhaps with a tear through the laughter, on how excruciatingly spot-on it all is.

As the narrator explains, all of this has come to pass because “evolution does not necessarily reward intelligence.” So smart people didn’t have enough babies, and dumb people had way too many.

I happened upon a mention of Idiocracy in The Corner this week, before which I had never heard of it. Reading the premise and already having much affection for Office Space, it was a slam-dunk I’d buy it.

Apparently Mike Judge had this film in the can for more than a year before Fox released it, and then they did so in a whopping six cities. It’s a bit of a mystery why Fox treated this film (and by extension, Judge) so poorly. Some guess he hit a little too close to home, savaging the very concepts with which Fox makes a lot of money (and he didn’t bite the hand that feeds him; he chewed that thing clean off and gnawed on it on the back porch for a couple of weeks).

Others suggest it was all deliberate, and Fox is trying to create a cult hit, counting on viral word-of-mouth like this to send DVD sales and rentals through the roof. That seems as silly to me as the theory that the new Coke fiasco was all an elaborate stratagem. I tend toward the first guess, thinking it likely that Judge pissed someone off, and then that someone tried to kill his film as a result. Megacorps are just too damned clumsy to pull off the fake grassroots thing.

Whatever happened, if this sounds at all appealing to you, please rent (or better, buy) this movie. Mike Judge should receive positive reinforcement so that we might continue to enjoy his brilliant satire.

Be warned: it’s pervasively silly. It’s a bit uneven in a couple of places. It’ll romp all over any “politically correct” sensibilities you possess.

And if you see it and think it’s really, um, kind of lame, and stuff because they don’t ever show enough of the good parts, please have yourself sterilized immediately. If you don’t know what that means, ask someone in charge.

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