Mr. Stapler and I went to see Mike Judge's new movie "Idiocracy" last night.
Haven't heard of it? Don't feel bad. No one else has either. Fox has apparently spent zero dollars on advertising and promotion. The weird part is that it seems like it is being almost anti-advertised. What do I mean? I went to look it up on Moviefone and it was not listed.
To find it, you had to look under "Untitled Mike Judge Comedy." Yeah. THAT's a grabby title that should have 'em running for the box office.
Mr. Stapler only heard about it because he went to a Santa Monica art-house midnight movie on Friday night and they were imploring people to go see the thing in the few theaters where it was showing.
The premise of the movie is that cute, cute Luke Wilson plays Joe, a man of average intelligence, who is frozen for 500 years. When he wakes up, the stupid people have been breeding like hamsters while the smart people have been busy going to college and forgetting to have children, so that the whole world is a disgusting and filthy and very, very stupid. Which makes Joe The Smartest Man in the World.
He stumbles through a planet piled high with trash where nothing works and where every employee has a menu-board with symbols like at Taco Bell. In a hospital waiting room, injured people play slot machines to try to win free health care as a roomba-bot cleans the same spot over and over while the floor around it remains covered in filth.
People are almost pre-verbal. They are crude and cruel, slovenly and supremely self-satisfied.
It is an unnervingly familiar place. Even though it is a silly movie, it is easy to walk out afterward, take a look around, and think "Yeah, he is onto something."
There are plenty of jokes at the expense of real-life brands. The Fox News anchorman is a shirtless bodybuilder. Costco takes days to travel through and offers law school in addition to everything else. Almost every modern franchise now offers "gentlemen's services" in addition to say, a latte (Joe: "Can we stop at a Starbucks?" Frito: "Man, we don't have time for a hand job!")
It's a great movie concept and an ok movie. It is hard to hang a movie on one character whose claim to fame is that he is completely average, one stereotypical woman character (the sassy prostitute) and a supporting cast of complete and utter idiots.
It has some good laughs, mostly rueful. It has a silly, typical "Hero's Journey) plot structure (man leaves home, gets in over his head, uses wits and the help of allies to overcome evil, save the day and learn something about himself) - no big surprises there.
Here's another review from Cinematical that goes into more detail.
I don't know if Mike Judge made someone at Fox mad or what. This Esquire article talks a little about his problems getting the movie made, but doesn't go into the real-behind-the-scenes stuff. Wikipedia posits that it might be because of threatened civil suits by some of the companies satirized by Judge.
This movie isn't going to win any Oscars, it's better than a lot of other movies out there. It certainly deserves as much publicity as, say "Failure to Launch."
Pick it up on DVD.