The last time I caught a movie that was shelved for months for being "just too darn bad" in the opinion of the studio that backed it and actually liked the results was Alex Winter's 1993 film FREAKED (previous to that it was another Alex Winter film, BILL & TED'S EXCELLENT ADVENTURE). Otherwise it's been downhill. Still, I was willing to try Mike Judge's IDIOCRACY which was snuck in and quickly ushered out of a handful of theaters last fall. I tried to catch this in one of those theaters while in Toronto without any luck. But I didn't have to wait too long until this hit DVD.
When one can see shit like THREE STRIKES, DRAGONFLY, or SLIVER in theaters, I figured that IDIOCRACY had to be worse than that. With expectations appropriately low, I was pleasently surprised by IDIOCRACY.
Starring the lesser-annoying Wilson brother, Luke, is "Average" Joe Bauers, an soldier flying under the radar who's happiest when sitting on his ass watching TV all day (shades of OFFICE SPACE's Peter Gibbons). Volunteered for a top secret experiment, Joe and civilian Rita (Maya Rudolph) are put into stasis under the assumption that they'll be in a human hybernation for a year. Of course, things go terribly wrong and the pair awake five hundred years in the future.
Due to medical advances that usurp Darwinism, least common denominator entertainment, and rampant breeding by the dregs of humanity, director Mike Judge paints the future as an evolutionary nightmare where the population has been dumbed down to sub-moronic levels. Communication consists of grunts, "huh?"s and a lot of "shut up!"s. The environment is a disaster, the economy is in the shitter, the President of the United States (Terry Alan Crews) is a former wrestler, and the highest rated television program is appropriately titled "Ow! My Balls!" Joe and Rita are trapped in a Kafkaesque nightmare where they're misunderstood, ostracized, and persued by the "shoot first never ask questions" police.
Overall, CdC writer Rich Osmond summed up IDIOCRACY best for me when he said, "It felt like a skit that goes on too long." I heartily agree. There are enough ideas here for a ten minute skit or, at most, a half hour short but at 84-minutes there are a lot of dead areas to the film. Luckily, these aren't filled with excruciatingly bad jokes; just a few chuckle-worthy moments where Joe and Rita easily outsmart their stupid contemporaries.
If anything, I would think that our future five hundred years from now could be far more worse than Judge portrays in IDIOCRACY. I can imagine that the English language, if it still exists, will be unrecognizable. Likewise, "Ow! My Balls!" seems fairly sophisticated compared to some of the things I've seen on Fox lately. In short, IDIOCRACY is good for a few smirks but it's not any kind of subversive gem that 20th Century Fox kept from public view.