Mike Judge's Idiocracy Reviewed: Too Stupid To Be Funny
by Alex Billington
October 26, 2006
Mike Judge, the creative mind behind Office Space, "Beavis and Butthead," and "King of the Hill," has a new comedy called Idiocracy in theaters. Almost no one has heard of this film because 20th Century Fox, the production and distribution company behind it, decided not to give it a wide release. Instead it got a very quiet release into some 200 theaters about a month ago in just six cities around North America. After finally catching Idiocracy in Pasadena, California, I can unfortunately agree with Fox's decision to keep it under wraps. Idiocracy was just too stupid of a comedy, ironically with a plot about the world becoming stupid, to measure up to the year's best comedies. Although Mike Judge is incredibly creative, Idiocracy doesn't seem to have the cult appeal that made Office Space a sleeper hit on DVD.
The premise behind Idiocracy is stupidly simple: two people, an "average joe" from the military named Joe Bauers (Luke Wilson), and a prostitute named Rita (Saturday Night Live's Maya Rudolph), are frozen in a military project. When the project's director gets arrested, the entire thing is scrapped, and the pods, which were supposed to only be frozen for one year, are left in rubble for 500 years. As time passes the human race becomes progressively dumber: all water is replaced by an energy drink called Brawndo, "Ow My Balls" is the most popular show on television, and the President is a wrestling champion who slams down beers while driving his three-wheel motorcycle. After Joe's and Rita's pods thaw, these 2000s-era protagonists realize that they are the smartest people on the planet - and must deal with the ridiculously dumb population to escape being thrown in jail.
Idiocracy has a few scenes and concepts that are quite funny in retrospect (such as "Brawndo, The Thirst Mutilator"), but the film is so ridiculously stupid that it can never achieve any lasting comedic moments. One of the standout concepts is the largest Costco ever, about the size of an entire state, that's so huge it has its own subway-like transportation system and greets shoppers with "Welcome to Costco, I love you." Besides Joe and Rita, every single person is a big, dumb idiot that's barely able to speak comprehensible English. Beyond just a few of those genuine Mike Judge moments, there are only few laughs in Idiocracy.
Dax Shepard put in one of the worst performances of his career as Frito, the first 26th-century man that Joe meets and befriends. I don't know how hard it is to play a completely idiotic person, or in Luke Wilson's case an average idiotic person, but neither man played his role well. The only redeeming part of Idiocracy is Maya Rudolph's attractive short-skirt-clad Rita, even without a single comedic line. Idiocracy is so cheesy that narration accompanies many of its scenes just to explain where the story is going.
As happened with Office Space, I think that Idiocracy may find a niche audience when it's released on DVD. That said, I still find Idiocracy to be an overly stupid comedy that definitely does not compare favorably to Office Space, the forthcoming Borat film, or any of the other great comedies out there. I applaud Mike Judge for making something unique and original, but this one won't go far even when it does get a wide DVD release.
When absolutely everyone in the world is stupid, there's no opportunity to make great comedy. Idiocracy is an unfortunate failure both in Fox's decision to keep it quiet and in Mike Judge's rather lackluster follow-up to his typical greats. There are a number of other much greater full-release comedies out there, including the hilarious Borat movie, that would be a better choice even on DVD. Idiocracy's comedy does have a unique Mike Judge touch, and may get its cult following eventually, but it still doesn't earn a place in the collection of greatest comedies of all time.
Reader Feedback - 16 Comments
"The only redeeming part of Idiocracy is Maya Rudolph's attractive short-skirt-clad Rita..." I think this kind of comment reinforces Judge's thesis. Congratulations, you are ahead of your time and your descendents will be well prepared for their future idiot careers.
Chris H on Jan 20, 2007
I think you are a fool for not understanding how funny and insightful Idiocracy really is. This movie will start to gain steam as the DVD gets around to people. I've already started to see it happen. Word of mouth will turn this film into a cult classic. It's as scary as it is humorous, because this country is headed in that direction as we speak. The social commentary put forth through this film is on a level almost unparalleled in cinema history. I guess it makes sense that a pinhead like yourself just wouldn't understand the intellectual, deep rooted humor behind this "stupid comedy".
Flann McMichael O'Malley on Apr 13, 2007
I have to agree. THis movie strikes you as being overly stupid and unrealistic. But its actually a horror film because this is exactly where our culture is taking us. Not only that but it pokes so much fun of actual groups of people in america that i was shocked at how brazen it was. I really enjoyed this film.
Jason on May 8, 2007
I have absolutely no idea where you're coming from in saying this movie is "too stupid" to be funny. Then you back that up by stating that Idiocracy isn't as funny as "Borat". Are you kidding me? If you want to talk about a stupid, unintelligent waste of time -- you could easily start and spend 2 hours of that conversation discussing Borat. Idiocracy is a great movie, because not only does it strike a nerve with the establishment, but it points a finger at the slippery slope we as a society are tracking down and says "this is what will become of you!". Is it any suprise that Costco is the size of South Carolina in this movie? Look at Wal-Mart today. You could easily walk into your local Wally-World tomorrow night and hear "Welcome to Wal-Mart. I Love You" and then expect electronics to be 1 hour away. This movie has the silly overtones that other great comedies, such as "Pootie Tang" or "Freddy Got Fingered" but this movie offers one thing that those do not... a satirical commentary on society as a whole. Basically, Idiocracy has taken elements of "Demolition Man" (cryogenics, a future of dumber people in a more technological world) and "History of the World, Part 1" and combined them to give you a very entertaining, side splitting comedy that I personally... will rank up there as one of the greatest comedies of our generation. "Mad Ups" to Mike Judge again... another instant classic!
Gary on May 17, 2007
Dude, Frito is smarter than you. Mike Judge's movie was basely dismissed as being "too stupid to be funny", but it's actually well-written, well thought out and quite witty. The only thing "stupid" in the film is the characters from 2505. Mike Judge has written a cult classic. If you don't think 20th Century FOX was holding back distribution of the film because of the negative, satirical (not-so-satirical) representation of FOX NEWS (the body builder and chesty anchors in exchange for journalistic integrity) and the idea that corporate monopolies are retarded (watering crops with a sports drink and Costco School of Law), you're part of the Idiocracy. This movie is so insightful and nuanced to those of us who DO pay attention. Stop watching "Ow, My Balls!" and read books about current events, so that you know whose country it is, and why it's going down like water from the toilet.
Chops McGee on Oct 8, 2007
Whatever you pretentious douche. This movie was funny.
ben on Nov 1, 2007
Open letter to the author of this article, Mr. Alex Billington: You have managed to write a movie review with a complete lack of insight about the theme. Your review of this movie is proof that you should not waste the web-surfing public's time with any, future off-the-mark reviews. I'm sure you've convinced yourself that you have "something special" with regards to your movie preferences, as evidenced by the length of the review. Let me assure you that you do not. How could you possibly hold your opinion as halfway legitimate, when you failed to merely identify the theme? I sure hope fistshowing.net does not pay for reviews like this. I would guess this site belongs to Alex's uncle or his Dungeons and Dragons partner. This singular review de-legitimizes the entire site. Seriously.
BKStylz on Nov 17, 2007
Word to the other comments. Just wanted to add, and it's possible someone else mentioned it, that I thought Frito was very well-played, and indeed had a key role as the first future dweller that Joe meets who we actually hear speak. I also wanted to reinforce the opinion that someone else expressed that this was a horror movie. I was chilled watching it the first time. I will agree with you that it wasn't hysterically funny, but there were some pretty hilarious concepts and insights into our present culture there that you can laugh about and think about for a long time after watching the film, once the horror of witnessing stupidity overtaking the world wears off. This movie is also, like Office Space, extremely quotable. Perhaps you need to grab yourself a full-release latte, and lighten up on this one. I mean, come on, President Kamacho?
Larry on Dec 14, 2007
Mr. Billington, while i understand why you were so hard on Idiocracy, i do agree that this movie will find its own audience; of which i am a member. Yes, this movie could have been better but it's my thought that those areas that suffered, such as the narration, were results of Fox's meddling and not due to Mr. Judge's direction. As proof i submit the glaring fact that on the DVD, the only special features were cut scenes; there was no director "banter track" which is a given on every modern DVD. I think this speaks volumes for the contempt that Mr. Judge has for the way Idiocracy was treated. For my measure, i thought Idiocracy was funny, insightful, worth watching with friends and like fellow (but late) Texan, Bill Hicks, i found the points he made to be prophetic.
shelly on Mar 13, 2008
Welcome to Costco, We Love You!
Sabotosh on Apr 28, 2008
Well this movie was extremely funny, but mostly sad as most of what is depicted IS exactly what is happening. I guess you need a minimal IQ to understand it..
Stéphane on Aug 5, 2008
Alex, your "Last Word" is the most ridiculous thing I have ever read. You obviously missed the point that American culture and society are heading in a dangerous and unfortunate direction. Or maybe you were just scared and insulted by the fact that Mike Judge had the BALLS to actually protray certain elements of TODAY's society for what they really are and what we all may become. If you were reviewing the movie "Ass" that was IN the movie Idiocracy, I would agree with your review, but you may have missed that too. Reading your review was almost as much of a waste of time as me writing this comment.
President Alezandro Mountain-Dew Herbert Kamacho on Sep 24, 2008
Sorry, but Idiocracy is a great movie. It hits the nail on the head on a lot of levels. Watch it and then go into a Wal-Mart, you will have a new outlook on your surroundings. I think the movie is very funny. And smart.
Joe B on Oct 2, 2008
Someone who thinks this movie was "too stupid" to be funny was probably expecting more of the "Ow My Balls" stuff. This movie was BRILLIANTLY stupid, and STUPIDLY funny. The "Brawndo's got electroytes" scene is pure genius. I thought that the choice of a president (Komacho) was poorly cast, and the over-the-top machine gun scene was not worthy of the rest of the film... but I can live with it. This certainly may well serve as a pre-cumentary on our society... right down to the court scene. This one goes in your butt.
Ben Waitin on Nov 10, 2008
This is easily one of the funniest satire films ever created... However, I think it was doomed from the beginning to go over most people's heads. Why? Because this film is making fun of all the lowest common denominator entertainment and culture we are increasingly fed as a society; also the kind of rampant anti-intellectualism that allows a Jessie Ventura or Sara Palin to become governor of a state. The film is making fun of the masses, essentially... so it would be nearly impossible for it to appeal to the masses and be a box office success.
Patrick Marckesano on Nov 10, 2008
Have to agree with the other commenters here - this movie was not only funny but thought provoking on so many levels. The only criticism I have is that it felt a little sharp edged in places, as in, it wasn't polished enough, especially in terms of narrative continuity. But somehow I suspect that this may be because Fox didn't back it all the way. A really good watch.
BCS on Sep 22, 2010
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