Idiocracy


Idiocracy
Idiocracy
Film poster in the style of Leonardo da Vinci's "Vitruvian Man" showing an imperfect slob
Promotional poster
Directed by Mike Judge
Produced by Mike Judge
Elysa Koplovitz
Michael Nelson
Written by Mike Judge
Etan Cohen
Narrated by Earl Mann
Starring Luke Wilson
Maya Rudolph
Dax Shepard
Terry Alan Crews
Music by Theodore Shapiro
Cinematography Tim Suhrstedt
Editing by David Rennie
Studio Judgemental Films
Distributed by 20th Century Fox
Release date(s) September 1, 2006 (2006-09-01)
Running time 84 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $2-4 million
Box office $495,303 (original run)

Idiocracy is a 2006 American film, a satirical science fiction comedy, directed by Mike Judge and starring Luke Wilson, Maya Rudolph, Dax Shepard, and Terry Crews.

The film tells the story of two ordinary people who are taken into a top-secret military hibernation experiment which goes awry, and awaken 500 years in the future. They discover that the world has degenerated into a dystopia where advertising, commercialism, and cultural anti-intellectualism run rampant and dysgenic pressure has resulted in a uniformly stupid human society devoid of intellectual curiosity, social responsibility and coherent notions of justice and human rights. Rather, this future society emphasizes anti-intellectualism, popularity, sexual attraction, and hedonism.

Despite its lack of a major theatrical release, the film has achieved a cult following.[1]

Contents

Plot

During the prologue, a narrator (Earl Mann) explains that in modern society, natural selection is indifferent toward intelligence. In a society in which stupid people easily out-breed the intelligent, the result is a crumbling Earth.

In 2005, Corporal Joe Bauers (Luke Wilson), a US Army librarian has been selected for an Army hibernation experiment by virtue of being exceptionally 'average' - including having a perfectly average 100 IQ. He is joined in the experiment by Rita (Maya Rudolph), a prostitute whose pimp, Upgrayedd (Brad 'Scarface' Jordan), (pronounced as "Upgrade") is paid to make sure she is not missed. The experiment was supposed to last a year, but the experiment is forgotten when the officer in charge, Lieutenant Colonel Collins, is arrested for having started a prostitution ring with Upgrayedd. The military base is demolished, and a Fuddruckers (gradually renamed to "Buttfuckers") is built on the site.

Five hundred years in the future, Joe and Rita's hibernation chambers are jarred open by an enormous garbage avalanche. Joe crashes into the apartment of Frito Pendejo (Dax Shepard), a typical idiot of the future, with an apartment full of junk food and a prominent, giant television that is covered with advertisements. Joe heads to the hospital where he receives a diagnosis from stoned Doctor Lexus (Justin Long) of being "'tarded", "fucked up" and "talking like a fag". Seeing a date of 2505 on a magazine, Joe realizes that half a millennium has passed since 2005 and, confused, flees the hospital. Joe is arrested for not paying his hospital bill and for not having a barcode tattoo, which all residents have imprinted on their left arm. Meanwhile, Rita is not as shocked to see the newly changed world and quickly learns to take advantage of the lower intelligence of those around her to earn money as a prostitute without even having intercourse.

At his trial, Joe's public defense lawyer is Frito Pendejo. Joe is imprisoned. The I.D.-tattoo machine interprets Joe's confused response and he is named "Not Sure." Joe takes an IQ test before easily escaping jail. Joe returns to Frito's apartment, asking him if a time machine exists to help him return to 2005. Frito claims there is one, but agrees to help only after Joe promises him billions of dollars. En route to the time machine, Joe and Frito find Rita. Frito leads them to a massive Costco, where Joe is arrested again after his bar code is accidentally scanned. Instead of being returned to jail, Joe is taken to the White House to be signed in as the new Secretary of the Interior. President Dwayne Elizondo Mountain Dew Herbert Camacho (Terry Alan Crews), a former porn star and professional wrestler, says Joe's IQ test showed Joe was the smartest man alive. In a speech the President charges Joe with solving the world's problems: food shortages, dust bowls, and a crippled economy. If he does not solve the problems within a week, the President will kick him in the nuts and send him back to prison.

Though Joe initially professes that he knows nothing of resolving these issues, when he discovers that the crops are watered with a Gatorade-like sports drink named "Brawndo", he finds himself knowledgeable enough to correct the problem. The narrator comments that "Brawndo has replaced water virtually everywhere" and that Brawndo purchased the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and Federal Communications Commission. In response to Joe's plan to switch to plain water, White House cabinet members continuously repeat the Brawndo tag line, "Brawndo's got what plants crave. It's got electrolytes", but Joe convinces them.

Unbeknownst to Joe, half the country works for Brawndo and his decision to use water in the fields causes the company's stock to plummet, leading to massive layoffs and unemployment, apparently without improving the crop situation. The angry population riots, and Joe is sentenced to "Rehabilitation", a demolition derby featuring undefeated "Rehabilitation Officer" Beef Supreme (Andrew Wilson). Meanwhile, Rita discovers that Joe's reintroduction of water to the soil has finally made vegetation sprout in the fields. Frito shows the thriving crops on stadium's big screen. The President gives Joe a full pardon.

Joe decides to stay and help repair civilization and the President names Joe Vice President. He later finds that the time machine spoken of earlier is simply a highly inaccurate amusement park history ride. Joe is subsequently elected to the presidency. Joe and Rita marry and have the world's three smartest children, while Frito, now Joe's Vice President, takes eight wives and fathers thirty-two of the world's stupidest children, echoing the introduction to the film.

After the credits, a third hibernation capsule is shown opening, releasing a snappily dressed Upgrayedd intent on tracking down Rita.

Cast

Production

Early working titles included The United States of Uhh-merica[2] and 3001. Filming took place during 2004 on several stages at Austin Studios[3][4] and in the cities of Austin, San Marcos, Pflugerville, and Round Rock, Texas.[5] Test screenings around March 2005 produced unofficial reports of poor audience reactions. After some re-shooting in the summer of 2005, a UK test screening in August produced a report of a positive impression.[6]

Release

The film's scheduled release date was August 5, 2005, according to Mike Judge.[7] In April 2006, a release date was set for September 1, 2006. In August, numerous articles[8] revealed that release was to be put on hold indefinitely. Idiocracy was released as scheduled but only in seven cities (Los Angeles, Atlanta, Toronto, Chicago, Dallas, Houston, and Mike Judge's hometown, Austin),[4] and expanded to only 130 theaters,[9] not the usual wide release of 600 or more theaters.[10] According to the Austin American-Statesman, 20th Century Fox, the film's distributor, did nothing to promote the movie;[4] while posters were released to theatres, "no movie trailers, no ads, and only two stills,"[11] and no press kits were released.[12]

The film was not screened for critics.[13] Lack of concrete information from Fox led to speculation that the distributor may have actively tried to keep the film from being seen by a large audience, while fulfilling a contractual obligation for theatrical release ahead of a DVD release, according to Ryan Pearson of the AP.[9] That speculation was followed by open criticism of the studio's lack of support from Ain't It Cool News, TIME and Esquire.[14][15][16] TIME's Joel Stein wrote "the film's ads and trailers tested atrociously", but, "still, abandoning Idiocracy seems particularly unjust, since Judge has made a lot of money for Fox."[15]

In The New York Times, Dan Mitchell argued that Fox might be shying away from the cautionary tale about low-intelligence dysgenics. It has been speculated that Fox downplayed the release of Idiocracy because the company did not want to offend its typical viewers.[17] This was a result of the film's anti-corporate message, noting that in the film, Starbucks now delivers handjobs, and the motto of Carl's Jr. has degenerated from "Don't Bother Me. I'm Eating." to "Fuck You! I'm Eating!"[18]

Box office performance

Film Release date Box office revenue Box office ranking Budget Reference
United States United States International Worldwide All time United States All time worldwide
Idiocracy September 2006 $444,093 $51,210 $495,303 #6,914 Unknown Unknown [19]

Box office receipts totaled $444,093 in 135 theaters in the U.S.[20]

Critical reception

Idiocracy was not screened for critics, its much-delayed release received virtually no publicity and the film was initially distributed to only 130 screens. Despite this lack of support from the studio, the film received generally favorable reviews by critics. Rotten Tomatoes returned a 74% "fresh" rating based on 38 reviews by critics,[21] Metacritic gives a score of 64% based on 8 critics, and a 7.4/10 rating by 81 site users.[22]

Praise focused on concept, casting, and humor; the worst of the criticism was directed at the film's release issues, some special effects and plot problems. Los Angeles Times reviewer Carina Chocano described it as "spot on" satire and a "pitch-black, bleakly hilarious vision of an American future", although the "plot, naturally, is silly and not exactly bound by logic. But it's Judge's gimlet-eyed knack for nightmarish extrapolation that makes Idiocracy a cathartic delight."[23] In a review only 87 words long[9] in Entertainment Weekly, Joshua Rich gave the film an "EW Grade" of "D" stating, "Mike Judge implores us to reflect on a future in which Britney and K-Fed are like the new Adam and Eve. Ow! My brain!"[24] The AV Club's Nathan Rabin found Luke Wilson "perfectly cast [...] as a quintessential everyman"; and wrote of the film: "Like so much superior science fiction, Idiocracy uses a fantastical future to comment on a present [...] . There's a good chance that Judge's smartly lowbrow Idiocracy will be mistaken for what it's satirizing."[13]

In other countries the film was reviewed positively. John Patterson, critic for The Guardian (U.K.), wrote, "Idiocracy isn't a masterpiece - Fox seems to have stiffed Judge on money at every stage - but it's endlessly funny", and of the film's popularity, described seeing the film "in a half-empty house. Two days later, same place, same show - packed-out."[25] Brazilian news magazine Veja, the largest in the country, called the film "politically incorrect", recommended that readers see the DVD, and wrote "the film went by unnoticed in American theatres and did not even screen in Brazil. The very proof that the future contemplated in it is not that far away."[26] Critic Alexandre Koball of CinePlayers.com (Brazil), while giving the movie a score of 5/5 along with another staff reviewer, wrote, "Idiocracy is not exactly [...] funny nor [...] innovative but it's a movie to make you think, even if for five minutes. And for that it manages to stay one level above the terrible average of comedy movies released in the last years in the United States."[20]

Film Rotten Tomatoes Metacritic Entertainment Weekly
All Critics Top Critics Audience
Idiocracy 73% (41 reviews)[27] 67% (6 reviews)[27] 57% (56,383 reviews)[27] 64/100 (8 reviews)[28] D[29]

Home media

Idiocracy was released on DVD on January 9, 2007 with fullscreen and widescreen aspect ratios, deleted scenes, English and Spanish spoken language tracks, and subtitles in English, Spanish, and French. As of February 2007, it had earned $9 million on DVD rentals, over 20 times the limited theatrical release.[30]

On September 1, 2007, Idiocracy opened for cable and satellite viewers on the Cinemax premium channel, and started airing on HBO networks in January 2008. On February 15, 2009, the film received its basic cable premiere, shown edited for TV on Comedy Central. However, one written use of the word "fuck" was still shown, in the parody of the restaurant Fuddruckers known as "Buttfuckers" (removed since the premiere).

In the United Kingdom, unedited versions of the film have been shown on satellite channel Sky Comedy on February 26, 2009 with the Freeview premiere shown on Film4 on April 26, 2009.

Analysis

The idea of a dystopian society based on dysgenics is not new. H. G. Wells' The Time Machine postulates a de-evolved society of humans, as do Aldous Huxley's Brave New World[31][32] and the short story "The Marching Morons" by Cyril M. Kornbluth.

Writers have noted that Idiocracy has much resemblance to today's society and have argued that our society has nearly reached that point now. In August 2011, Meghan Daum compared the behavior of notable US politicians, such as Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sarah Palin, Anthony Weiner and the entire US Congress to the characters in Idiocracy.[33] Jackson Browne calls Idiocracy a great societal barometer.[34] In the United States, both liberals and conservatives argue that their opponents are leading to an Idiocracy-style world.[33]

See also

References

  1. ^ Walker, Rob (2008-05-04). "This Joke’s for You". The New York Times. http://www.nytimes.com/2008/05/04/magazine/04wwln-consumed-t.html. Retrieved 2009-05-26. 
  2. ^ Pierce, Thomas (January 11, 2007). "So What Idiot Kept This Movie Out of Theaters? (3rd item)". NPR. http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=6783693. Retrieved 2007-02-09. 
  3. ^ "Idiocracy at Austin Studios. Facilities usage.". Austin Studios;. Austin Film Society. Archived from the original on 2007-10-08. http://web.archive.org/web/20071008210602/http://www.austinfilm.org/idiocracy. Retrieved 2010-06-18. 
  4. ^ a b c Garcia, Chris (August 30, 2006). "Was 'Idiocracy' treated idiotically?". Austin American-Statesman. http://www.statesman.com/search/content/shared/movies/stories/2006/09/idiocracy.html. Retrieved 2007-02-09. 
  5. ^ "Texas Film Commission Filmography (2000-2007)". Office of the Governor. Archived from the original on 2008-08-22. http://web.archive.org/web/20080822033056/http://www.governor.state.tx.us/divisions/film/general/00film.htm. Retrieved 2010-06-20. 
  6. ^ "Mike Judge's Idiocracy Tests! (etc.)". Eric Vespe quoting anonymous contributor. AintItCoolNews.com. August 22, 2005. http://www.aintitcool.com/node/21057. Retrieved 2007-02-09. 
  7. ^ Franklin, Garth (February 28, 2005.). "Mike Judge Still Not In "3001"". Dark Horizons. Archived from the original on 2008-02-05. http://web.archive.org/web/20080205220006/http://www.darkhorizons.com/news05/050228g.php. Retrieved 2010-08-21. 
  8. ^ Carroll, Larry (August 30, 2006). "MTV Movie File". MTV. Viacom. http://www.mtv.com/movies/news/articles/1538260/story.jhtml. Retrieved 2007-02-09. 
  9. ^ a b c Pearson, Ryan (September 8, 2006). "The mystery of 'Idiocracy'". AP. http://asap.ap.org/stories/859107.s. Retrieved 2006-11-25. 
  10. ^ About Movie Box Office Tracking and Terms. Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 2010-08-28.
  11. ^ Kernion, Jette (October 22, 2006). "Time for Mike Judge to go Indie". Cinematical. http://www.cinematical.com/2006/10/22/indieseen-time-for-mike-judge-to-go-indie. 
  12. ^ Patel, Nihar (September 8, 2006). "A Paucity of Publicity for 'Idiocracy'". Day to Day. NPR. http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=5788260.  Transcript.
  13. ^ a b Rabin, Nathan (September 6, 2006.). "Idiocracy (review)". The A.V. Club. The Onion. http://www.avclub.com/articles/idiocracy,3812/. Retrieved 2007-02-08. 
  14. ^ Vespe, Eric (September 2, 2006). "Open Letter to Fox re: IDIOCRACY!!!". Ain't It Cool News. http://www.aintitcool.com/display.cgi?id=24374. 
  15. ^ a b Stein, Joel (September 10, 2006). "Dude, Where's My Film?". Time Magazine. http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1533437,00.html. 
  16. ^ Raftery, Brian (June 1, 2006). "Mike Judge Is Getting Screwed (Again)". Esquire. http://www.esquire.com/features/ESQ0606MJUDGE_84. 
  17. ^ Mitchell, Dan (September 9, 2006). "Shying away from Degeneracy". New York Times. http://www.nytimes.com/2006/09/09/business/09online.html. Retrieved 2006-11-25. 
  18. ^ Adawi, Kamal (August 8, 2008). "Idiocracy is Pure Genius". MBAcasestudysolutions.com. http://www.mbacasestudysolutions.com/Blog/Idiocracy_Film_Large_Corporation_Theme_8-8-2008.html. Retrieved 2008-08-10. 
  19. ^ "Idiocracy (2006)". Box Office Mojo. http://boxofficemojo.com/movies/?id=idiocracy.htm. Retrieved 2011-08-19. 
  20. ^ a b "Idiocracy". Box Office Mojo. Amazon.com. http://www.boxofficemojo.com/movies/?id=idiocracy.htm. Retrieved 2007-02-02. 
  21. ^ "Idiocracy". Rotten Tomatoes. Flixster. http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/idiocracy/. Retrieved 2009-09-08. 
  22. ^ "Idiocracy". Metacritic. CBS. http://www.metacritic.com/film/titles/idiocracy. Retrieved 2009-09-08. 
  23. ^ Chocano, Carina (September 4, 2006). "Movie review : 'Idiocracy'". calendarlive.com. http://www.calendarlive.com/movies/reviews/cl-et-idiocracy4sep04,0,3328767.story. Retrieved 2010-09-29. [dead link]
  24. ^ Rich, Joshua (August 30, 2006). "Idiocracy (2006)". ew.com. http://www.ew.com/ew/article/0,,1528246,00.html. Retrieved 2010-09-29. 
  25. ^ Patterson, John (September 8, 2006). "On film : Stupid Fox". The Guardian. UK. http://www.guardian.co.uk/film/2006/sep/08/johnpatterson. Retrieved 2010-09-28. 
  26. ^ "Idiocracy" (in Portuguese). veja.com. Brazil: VEJA. March 21, 2007. http://veja.abril.com.br/210307/veja_recomenda.shtml. Retrieved 2010-09-16. 
  27. ^ a b c "Idiocracy". Rotten Tomatoes. Flixster. http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/idiocracy/. Retrieved 2011-08-19. 
  28. ^ "Idiocracy". Metacritic. CBS. http://www.metacritic.com/movie/idiocracy. Retrieved 2011-08-19. 
  29. ^ "Idiocracy". Entertainment Weekly. http://www.ew.com/ew/article/0,,1528246,00.html. Retrieved 2011-08-19. 
  30. ^ "Idiocracy - DVD / Home Video". Box Office Mojo. Amazon.com. http://boxofficemojo.com/movies/?page=homevideo&id=idiocracy.htm. Retrieved 2007-02-02. 
  31. ^ Tremblay, Ronald Michel (November 4, 2009). "Humankind’s future: social and political Utopia or Idiocracy?". Atlantic Free Press. http://www.atlanticfreepress.com/news/1/12221-humankinds-future-social-and-political-utopia-or-idiocracy.html. Retrieved 2010-05-08. 
  32. ^ William Norman Grigg (May 14, 2010). "Idiocracy Rising". Lew Rockwell. http://www.lewrockwell.com/grigg/grigg-w146.html. Retrieved 2010-10-02. 
  33. ^ a b Meghan Daum (August 18, 2011). ""Daum: Invasion of the idiocrats"". Los Angeles Times. http://www.latimes.com/news/opinion/commentary/la-oe-daum-idiocracy-20110818,0,1080903.column?obref=obinsite. Retrieved 2011-08-25. 
  34. ^ Tom Lanham (August 3, 2011). "Jackson Browne continues clean-energy quest". San Francisco Examiner. http://www.sfexaminer.com/entertainment/music/2011/08/jackson-browne-continues-clean-energy-quest. Retrieved 2011-08-25. 

External links



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