Written by: DAREL JEVENS (Staff Reporter for the Chicago Sun Times)
Hurry. You might only have a couple of days. Go see “Idiocracy,” the new, practically censored movie from the guy behind “Office Space,” “King of the Hill” and “Beavis and Butt-Head.”
You’ll have a lot of laughs, and you’ll be among the elite rebels who defied 20th Century Fox and caught the cool comedy the studio is trying very hard to hide.
Since director Mike Judge made “Idiocracy” two years ago, Fox has been fumbling around with it, trying to figure out marketing plans and missing assorted release dates. The film finally dribbled out last weekend, unscreened for critics and advertised minimally, if at all. Some contractual stipulation probably is the only reason it wasn’t dumped to DVD.
“Idiocracy” is a movie that looks stupid, but only in the service of astute commentary. As a prologue explains, smart people are getting outnumbered. While the intelligent tend to be careful about their breeding, a lot of morons are not; too boneheaded to think about birth control or sensible family size, they’re cranking out more dumb babies every day.
So when soldier Joe Bowers (Luke Wilson) wakes up 500 years in the future, the result of a botched hibernation experiment, he finds the country hopelessly dense and incapable of solving the most basic problems. Buildings are teetering and collapsing. Garbage towers high in the streets. Farm fields are barren because a sponsor pumps salty energy drink into every place water used to be — including the irrigation systems.
Most everyone in 2505 is a mouth-breathing lout, barely capable of forming a sentence. They’ve elected as president the guy who seems cool to them, a loudmouthed porn-star wrestler (unfailingly funny Terry Crews, the dad from “Everybody Hates Chris”). They pass their days consuming, defecating, fornicating and gawking at anything that goes boom. Then consuming some more. And because they don’t know any better, they’ve let themselves be co-opted by corporate marketers, taking brands (“Frito”) for names and wearing disposable clothes covered with ads.
Like “Office Space,” this movie has a lurching plot — utterly average Joe feels like a brainiac in the dumbed-down dystopia — but rich humor in the little details. Keep your eyes open for the Costco as big as a city (complete with monorail), the trashed White House littered with empties, and the grimy vending machines that malfunction and ruin your life.
About 20 people were in the theater when I saw “Idiocracy.” Just being able to track down the movie despite its stealthy release makes them more nimble-minded than every 26th century clod in the movie, as well as the Fox geniuses so certain that it couldn’t be sold.
Of course, it doesn’t take a functioning cerebrum to see the irony of “Idiocracy’s” fate. In the pathetic future it predicts, the slack-jawed hordes lash out at signs of intelligence, throwing clumsy punches at the articulate and calling them “fags.”
In the present, the corporation that heavily promoted “From Justin to Kelly” and “Garfield” (twice) pushes aside a promising satire that suggests people need to wise up and avoid being exploited.
Chicago is one of only seven cities where “Idiocracy” can be seen. Fox execs are hoping you will skip it, so they can justify their certainty that it was doomed to failure and pat themselves on the back for burying it.
But you’re too smart for that.