Idiocracy

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Idiocracy
Film poster in the style of Leonardo da Vinci's "Vitruvian Man" showing an imperfect slob
Theatrical release poster
Directed byMike Judge
Produced byMike Judge
Elysa Koplovitz
Michael Nelson
Written byMike Judge
Etan Cohen
Narrated byEarl Mann
StarringLuke Wilson
Maya Rudolph
Dax Shepard
Terry Alan Crews
Music byTheodore Shapiro
CinematographyTim Suhrstedt
Editing byDavid Rennie
StudioJudgemental Films
Distributed by20th Century Fox
Release dates
  • September 1, 2006 (2006-09-01)
Running time84 minutes
CountryUnited States
LanguageEnglish
Budget$2-4 million
Box office$495,303 (worldwide)[1]
 
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Idiocracy
Film poster in the style of Leonardo da Vinci's "Vitruvian Man" showing an imperfect slob
Theatrical release poster
Directed byMike Judge
Produced byMike Judge
Elysa Koplovitz
Michael Nelson
Written byMike Judge
Etan Cohen
Narrated byEarl Mann
StarringLuke Wilson
Maya Rudolph
Dax Shepard
Terry Alan Crews
Music byTheodore Shapiro
CinematographyTim Suhrstedt
Editing byDavid Rennie
StudioJudgemental Films
Distributed by20th Century Fox
Release dates
  • September 1, 2006 (2006-09-01)
Running time84 minutes
CountryUnited States
LanguageEnglish
Budget$2-4 million
Box office$495,303 (worldwide)[1]

Idiocracy is a 2006 American satirical science fiction comedy film directed by Mike Judge and starring Luke Wilson, Maya Rudolph, Dax Shepard, and Terry Crews. The film tells the story of two ordinary people from the present who take part in a top-secret military hibernation experiment, only to awaken 500 years in the future in a dystopian society full of extremely stupid people. Advertising, commercialism, and cultural anti-intellectualism have run rampant and dysgenic pressure has resulted in a uniformly unthinking society devoid of intellectual curiosity, social responsibility, and coherent notions of justice and human rights.

Despite its lack of a major theatrical release, the film has achieved a cult following.[2]

Plot[edit]

A U.S. Army librarian, Corporal Joe Bauers, and a prostitute named Rita are selected for a suspended animation experiment which is supposed to last one year. Joe is average in every way, hence his selection, and Rita's pimp, "Upgrayedd", has been bribed to allow her to take part. The experiment is forgotten when the officer in charge is arrested for starting a prostitution business.

Five hundred years later, when the average IQ has dropped drastically, Joe and Rita's suspension chambers are unearthed by the collapse of a mountain-sized garbage pile. Joe's suspension chamber smashes through the wall of the apartment of Frito Pendejo, who throws him out for interrupting his favorite TV show, "Ow! My Balls!", where the star is repeatedly hit in his testicles.

Joe, thinking all the unfamiliar sights are the result of a suspended animation hangover, makes his way to a hospital, oblivious to the extreme overtime of the experiment. The former Washington, D.C. has lost most of its infrastructure, with people living in plastic huts called "domistile". The human population are morbidly stupid, speak a degenerate form of English and are profoundly anti-intellectual. The "#1 movie" is called "Ass", and consists of ninety minutes of a picture of human buttocks with the sounds of farting - the movie won eight Academy Awards, including "Best Screenplay". Joe is arrested for not having a bar code tattoo to pay for his doctor's appointment, only just realizing the current year and society's state. At Joe's trial, Frito, still angry about his ruined apartment, turns out to be his lawyer, and his inept representation causes Joe to be sent to prison. Rita returns to her former profession and realizes that in a world "filled with morons", her job is much easier.

Joe is renamed "Not Sure" by a faulty identity tattooing machine, and takes an IQ test before outsmarting the prison guards and escaping. Joe returns to Frito's apartment to ask him if a time machine exists to help him return to 2005. Frito claims to know of one, but agrees to help only after Joe promises to open a bank account under Frito's name in Joe's time, which will be worth billions by 2505. On the way to find the time machine, Joe and Frito find Rita.

They arrive at a gigantic Costco store, where Frito thinks the time machine can be found. A tattoo scanner in the store identifies Joe as a fugitive. He is arrested again and taken to the White House to become Secretary of the Interior, on the grounds that his IQ test identified him as the smartest man alive. In a speech, President Dwayne Elizondo Mountain Dew Herbert Camacho gives Joe the job of fixing the nation's food shortages, dust bowls, and crippled economy within a week. Joe discovers that the nation's crops are irrigated with a Gatorade-like sports drink named "Brawndo", whose eponymous parent corporation had purchased the US Food and Drug Administration and Federal Communications Commission, virtually replacing water in every respect. When Joe has it replaced with water without visibly improving the crops, Brawndo's stock drops to zero and computers lay off half the population, causing mass riots.

Joe is sentenced to die in an unfairly-matched monster truck demolition derby featuring undefeated "Rehabilitation Officer" Beef Supreme. Rita discovers that Joe's reintroduction of water to the soil has prompted vegetation in the fields. Frito shows the crops on the stadium's display screen, and Camacho gives Joe a full pardon, appointing him his Vice President. Joe and Rita find that the time machine is a wildly inaccurate history-themed amusement ride. Following Camacho's retirement, Joe is elected to the presidency. In his inaugural speech, Joe points out how past civilizations have accomplished feats such as astronomy, naval architecture, the Seven Wonders of the World, and that this society can achieve such heights if people improve themselves and stop ostracizing those who read. Joe and Rita marry and conceive the world's three smartest children, while Frito, now Joe's Vice President, takes eight wives and fathers thirty-two of the world's most stupid children.

A post-credits scene shows a third suspension chamber releasing Upgrayedd, intent on tracking Rita down.

Cast[edit]

Production[edit]

Early working titles included The United States of Uhh-merica[3] and 3001. Filming took place in 2004 on several stages at Austin Studios[4][5] and in the cities of Austin, San Marcos, Pflugerville, and Round Rock, Texas.[6]

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.[7]

Release[edit]

Idiocracy's original release date was August 5, 2005, according to Mike Judge.[8] In April 2006, a release date was set for September 1, 2006. In August, numerous articles[9] 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, Texas),[5] and expanded to only 130 theaters,[10] not the usual wide release of 600 or more theaters.[11] According to the Austin American-Statesman, 20th Century Fox, the film's distributor, did nothing to promote the movie;[5] while posters were released to theatres, "no movie trailers, no ads, and only two stills,"[12] and no press kits were released.[13]

The film was not screened for critics.[14] 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.[10] That speculation was followed by open criticism of the studio's lack of support from Ain't It Cool News, TIME, and Esquire.[15][16][17] 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."[16]

In The New York Times, Dan Mitchell argued that Fox might be shying away from the cautionary tale about low-intelligence dysgenics, because the company did not want to offend either its viewers or potential advertisers portrayed negatively in the film[18] noting that in the film, Starbucks 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!"[19]

Box office performance[edit]

FilmRelease dateBox office revenueBox office rankingBudgetReference
United StatesUnited StatesInternationalWorldwideAll time United StatesAll time worldwide
IdiocracySeptember 2006$444,093$51,210$495,303#6,914UnknownUnknown[20]

Box office receipts totaled $444,093 in 135 theaters in the U.S.[21]

Critical reception[edit]

Idiocracy was not screened for critics, but the film received generally favorable reviews by critics. Praise focused on concept, casting, and humor; the bulk of the criticism was directed at the film's release issues or at 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."[22] In a review only 87 words long[10] in Entertainment Weekly, Joshua Rich gave the film an "EW Grade" of "D" stating that "Mike Judge implores us to reflect on a future in which Britney and K-Fed are like the new Adam and Eve."[23] 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."[14]

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."[24] Brazilian news magazine Veja called the film "politically incorrect", recommended that readers see the DVD, and wrote "the film went flying through [American] theaters and did not open in Brazil. Proof that the future contemplated by Judge is not that far away."[25]

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."[26]

Rotten Tomatoes returned a 73% "fresh" rating based on 41 reviews by critics,[27] and Metacritic gave a score of 64% based on 8 critics.[28]

Home media[edit]

Idiocracy was released on DVD on January 9, 2007 with cropped 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 its gross domestic box office revenue of under $450,000.[29]

In the United Kingdom, uncut 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.

Possible spin-off[edit]

In August 2012, Crews said he was in talks with director Judge and Fox over a possible Idiocracy spin-off featuring his President Camacho character, initially conceived as a web series.[30]

Analysis[edit]

The idea of a Dystopian society based on dysgenics is not new. H. G. Wells' The Time Machine postulates a devolved society of humans, as does the short story "The Marching Morons" by Cyril M. Kornbluth, akin to the "Epsilon-minus Semi-Morons" of Aldous Huxley's Brave New World.[31][32]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Box Office Summary (BoxOfficeMojo)
  2. ^ Walker, Rob (2008-05-04). "This Joke’s for You". The New York Times. Retrieved 2009-05-26. 
  3. ^ Pierce, Thomas (January 11, 2007). "So What Idiot Kept This Movie Out of Theaters? (3rd item)". NPR. Retrieved 2007-02-09. 
  4. ^ "Idiocracy at Austin Studios. Facilities usage.". Austin Studios;. Austin Film Society. Archived from the original on 2007-10-08. Retrieved 2010-06-18. 
  5. ^ a b c Garcia, Chris (August 30, 2006). "Was 'Idiocracy' treated idiotically?". Austin American-Statesman. Retrieved 2007-02-09. 
  6. ^ "Texas Film Commission Filmography (2000-2007)". Office of the Governor. Archived from the original on 2008-08-22. Retrieved 2010-06-20. 
  7. ^ "Mike Judge's Idiocracy Tests! (etc.)". Eric Vespe quoting anonymous contributor. AintItCoolNews.com. August 22, 2005. Retrieved 2007-02-09. 
  8. ^ Franklin, Garth (February 28, 2005). "Mike Judge Still Not In "3001"". Dark Horizons. Archived from the original on 2008-02-05. Retrieved 2010-08-21. 
  9. ^ Carroll, Larry (August 30, 2006). "MTV Movie File". MTV. Viacom. Retrieved 2007-02-09. 
  10. ^ a b c Pearson, Ryan (September 8, 2006). "The mystery of 'Idiocracy'". AP. Retrieved 2006-11-25. 
  11. ^ About Movie Box Office Tracking and Terms. Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 2010-08-28.
  12. ^ Kernion, Jette (October 22, 2006). "Time for Mike Judge to go Indie". Cinematical. 
  13. ^ Patel, Nihar (September 8, 2006). "A Paucity of Publicity for 'Idiocracy'". Day to Day. NPR.  Transcript.
  14. ^ a b Rabin, Nathan (September 6, 2006). "Idiocracy (review)". The A.V. Club. The Onion. Retrieved 2007-02-08. 
  15. ^ Vespe, Eric (September 2, 2006). "Open Letter to Fox re: IDIOCRACY!!!". Ain't It Cool News. 
  16. ^ a b Stein, Joel (September 10, 2006). "Dude, Where's My Film?". Time Magazine. 
  17. ^ Raftery, Brian (June 1, 2006). "Mike Judge Is Getting Screwed (Again)". Esquire. 
  18. ^ Mitchell, Dan (September 9, 2006). "Shying away from Degeneracy". New York Times. Retrieved 2006-11-25. 
  19. ^ Adawi, Kamal (August 8, 2008). "Idiocracy is Pure Genius". MBAcasestudysolutions.com. Retrieved 2008-08-10. 
  20. ^ "Idiocracy (2006)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 2011-08-19. 
  21. ^ "Idiocracy". Box Office Mojo. Amazon.com. Retrieved 2007-02-02. 
  22. ^ Chocano, Carina (September 4, 2006). "Movie review : 'Idiocracy'". calendarlive.com. Retrieved 2010-09-29. [dead link]
  23. ^ Rich, Joshua (August 30, 2006). "Idiocracy (2006)". ew.com. Retrieved 2010-09-29. 
  24. ^ Patterson, John (September 8, 2006). "On film : Stupid Fox". The Guardian (UK). Retrieved 2010-09-28. 
  25. ^ "Idiocracy". veja.com (in Portuguese). Brazil: VEJA. March 21, 2007. Retrieved 2010-09-16. "...o filme passou voando pelos cinemas americanos e nem estreou nos brasileiros. Prova de que o futuro vislumbrado por Judge não está assim tão distante." 
  26. ^ Koball, Alexandre (April 12, 2007). "Idiocracy (2006)". CinePlayers.com (in Portuguese). Brazil. Retrieved 2010-09-16. 
  27. ^ "Idiocracy". Rotten Tomatoes. Flixster. Retrieved 2009-09-08. 
  28. ^ "Idiocracy". Metacritic. CBS. Retrieved 2009-09-08. 
  29. ^ DVD/ Home Video summary (BoxOfficeMojo)
  30. ^ Yamato, Jen (August 6, 2012). "Idiocracy Spin-Off In The Works? Terry Crews Talks". Movieline. Retrieved 2012-10-08. 
  31. ^ Tremblay, Ronald Michel (November 4, 2009). "Humankind’s future: social and political Utopia or Idiocracy?". Atlantic Free Press. Retrieved 2010-05-08. 
  32. ^ Grigg, William Norman (May 14, 2010). "Idiocracy Rising". Lew Rockwell. Retrieved 2010-10-02. 

External links[edit]