IDIOCRACY: NEXT STOP, AMERICA
Mike Judge of Beavis and Butthead and Officer Space fame has brought us a film that has a message within all of its idiotic notions. His story of a man who wakes up after being frozen for 500 years and is the smartest man in society is a scary concept. There are a few dumb steps along the way but once you realize what his message is, you realize how smart the film is.
Private Joe Bowers (Luke Wilson) is in the military but is pretty useless, content to simply sit around at his desk job until his retirement in eight years. He just wants to be left alone and explains to his boss that every time someone tells him to “Lead, Follow, or get out of the way”, as he always gets out of the way. His boss explains to him that the expression is supposed to embarrass you into getting off your butt and leading. He is asked to take part in an experiment where he will be frozen for a year. Rita (Maya Rudolph) is a civilian (translation: hooker) who also takes part in the experiment. They wake up 500 years later to find that Joe is the smartest man in society and that the world looks like a dump. The president is a wrestler and Starbucks are now massage parlors that give “happy endings”. All of this and everybody talks like a stereotypical gangster.
The movie did annoy me at first. Everybody is named after some brand of food, such as Frito (Dax Shepherd), television star Hormel Chavez (Kevin Klee), and even wrestling star Beef Supreme. The clock tower in town flashes 12:00. And when Joe is deemed the smartest guy in the world, he sits down with the president’s cabinet in by far the most infuriating scene of the film. But even though the film takes stupidity to the extreme, you come to realize that this is the only way we can get the message. We are a nation that brands everything, including news reports. A wrestler or a rapper is looked up to more than a politician (In defense of wrestlers and rappers, this is more the fault of today’s politicians). With a Starbucks on every corner, is it a surprise what they offer in the future? Judge is trying to tell us that if we don’t make a change, Idiocracy is what our future looks like. Judge shows us through not only the Wrestler Presidents, corporate branding, or massage parlors but through visuals. The country looks third world with its garbage and shoddy buildings.
The movie could have been better if there had been a bigger budget. I believe that the sets were meant to look trashy but they could have benefited from some funds. Luke Wilson is a great match for Joe Bowers but I could have done without Dax Shepherd. His character was borderline retarded and was meant to be that way. But why do I get the feeling that it wasn’t a big stretch for him? He keeps getting cast in movies and I keep scratching my head trying to understand it.
Idiocracy is an intentionally silly film with a message. It shows the viewer what today’s society thinks is important and how that will affect us in the future. Mike Judge is not one of the most esteemed directors in Hollywood. But with messages like this, he should be.