Idiocracy (Director: Mike Judge, USA, 2006): After hearing how Fox bungled the theatrical distribution for this film (much the same way as they did for another Mike Judge film, Office Space), I was hoping to find an undiscovered gem. But it’s only a passably good film.

Army Private Joe Bowers (Luke Wilson) is a completely average Joe, so the army decides to freeze him in an experiment in order to wake him up in a year. Instead, he’s brought back 500 years in the future, in an America that has been completely overtaken by stupidity and corporate branding. Now this “average joe” is the smartest man in the country and the government recruits him to help solve the country’s mounting problems.

Before I note my criticisms, I have to say that there were lots and lots of funny moments, and that Luke Wilson makes a very appealing Everyman. I loved that the number-one television show is called “Ow! My Balls!” And that the greeter at Costco says, in a monotone voice, “Welcome to Costco, I love you.” And that the crops are watered with sports drink. There are lots of quotable lines that will probably be repeated by, dare I say it, people the film is actually satirizing (much like Judge’s Beavis and Butt-Head).

Yet all of the rather broad swipes didn’t really amount to much of a satire. The comedy was just too obvious, and the presence of the overbearing narrator from dozens of “ironic” beer commercials was overkill. As well, the film’s low budget shows in too many places.

Maybe this film will find its audience on DVD, like Office Space did, but it’s just not as good a film. Mike Judge is a gifted satirist, when he keeps it small. In this case, his reach has exceeded his grasp. I’m giving it an extra point for ambition, though.


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