This movie hit me with a force I was quite unprepared for.  I have little intelligent to say about it at the moment (ironically enough), but I’d like to do my part to get people to see it.

Once in a great while, a movie has a vision so thorough and detailed that it alters the way the world outside the theater looks.  The last time it happened to me was Batman in 1989; after two hours steeped in Tim Burton’s vision of Gotham City, with its corruption and decay and facsist architecture, I couldn’t walk the streets of New York that summer without half-expecting to see the Batwing fly overhead.

It happened again tonight with this movie.  The basic concept (people are loud and stupid) couldn’t be more simple, and yet this movie takes it to such a relentlessly high degree that it becomes difficult to shake off.  Idiocracy is a vision of America so specific, so obvious and yet so unique and so detailed, it was impossible for me to walk out of the theater without hearing people talking in its language, moving to its rhythms and acting according to its principles.

I’m not even sure what to compare it to.  Structurally it reminds me of Sleeper; both movies put a self-described “average guy” into a dystopian future, and neither movie has a well-engineered plot.  But after that I start to run out of points of comparison.  If Clockwork Orange had been conceived of as a comedy, I suppose it might have turned out something like this, but that’s about it.  Suffice to say, it’s not like Beavis and Butt-head and it’s not like King of the Hill and it’s not like Office Space.  In fact I would say it’s like nothing you’ve ever seen before, and how many movies can you say that about these days?
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12 Responses to “Idiocracy”
  1. craigjclark says:

    You New Yorkers and Los Angelenos and your seeing movies before anyone else in the country has a chance to. What makes you so goddamn special?

    Anyway, as far as perception-altering movies go, I remember the first (of three) times I saw Terry Gilliam’s Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas in the theaters in the summer of 1998. As I walked out to my car I felt like I had gotten a contact high off the film. When I mentioned this to the person I was with, he said he had the same exact feeling. There’s a reason why I went back to see it two more times before it left theaters. (And, for the record, I don’t take anything recreationally — unless hallucinogenic celluloid is a controlled substance.)

    • We ain’t that special. This isn’t playing in New York. It’s been on the shelf for a while, and now has been dumped by 20th-Century Fox with little to no fanfare (if you try to buy tickets for it online in some places, it’s actually listed as “Untitled Mike Judge Comedy”) in 145 theatres across the country, not including most major cities. I didn’t know they had indeed included L.A. in there. In fact, now that I’ve looked it up, it’s only playing in four states: California, Illinois, Georgia, and Texas. No plans to expand it as yet. They want it to go away.

      I agree on Fear and Loathing, the whole group I saw it with staggered down the street afterwards, feeling stoned.

      And every time I’ve seen Blue Velvet in an actual theatre, I’ve come out to a world that seemed a little different, as if I was seeing things that had always been there, but I hadn’t noticed (leaving the theatre the first time in ’86 to immediately walk past a car where a blow job was happening just felt like the film had come out the exit with me).

      • greyaenigma says:

        Fear and Loathing had virtually no impact on me, which is odd, given how much I generally love Gilliam’s work.

        I’m hoping this eventually comes to the theaters here — or at least rapidly comes to Netflix.

        I’m hoping merely being reminded that people are loud and stupid won’t be a turnoff.

        • craigjclark says:

          It’s a pity that Idiocracy is getting the shaft, but at least Terry Gilliam’s Tideland — which has been in the can since The Brothers Grimm came out — is finally getting released this fall. Ditto Darren Aronofsky’s The Fountain. It seems like I’ve been waiting for those two forever.

          • greyaenigma says:

            Ooh, I’d heard of Tideland, didn’t think I’d get a chance to see it. I hope the Go playing in The Fountain is better than it was in Pi. But he at least gets props for including it.

  2. monica_black says:

    The basic concept (people are loud and stupid)

    Hmm, sounds like a film I would like. And it involves a dystopian future.

  3. eronanke says:

    I really want to see this movie.

  4. urbaniak says:

    Most of America will have to wait for the DVD.

    • Todd says:

      That article makes it sound unreleasable. It is not. It is hugely entertaining, mind-bendingly weird and very very funny. At the show I saw, the audience broke out into spontaneous applause at the end.

      • gazblow says:

        I wonder if there isn’t something more marketing-sinister to the story that “the studio thought the movie was unreleasable”. Seems like the kind of story to make people go “What are they trying to hide from me?” and then make a buttload off the DVD like they did with Office Space. Some marketing geniuses sitting around saying “How the hell are we going to sell this intelligent satire? I got it! Tell the people they’re not allowed to watch it!” The old Tom Sawyer strategy.

        Of course, since I live in a philistine backwater like New York and not a cultural center like Georgia or Illinois or Texas, I’ll have to wait for Netflix to find out if it’s really any good.

        • Todd says:

          I wonder if there isn’t something more marketing-sinister to the story that “the studio thought the movie was unreleasable”.

          I think what they meant was that the movie is unmarketable. And I suppose that in today’s market, it is. But what it feels more like to me is that the storyline of Idiocracy, where an average man is persecuted and shouted down for being too smart, was played out in real life at the studio.

  5. automatoid says:

    I heard about this movie about two months ago, and have been wanting to see it ever since, just because it’s Mike Judge. Oddly enough, last night I saw it on imdb and had a strange urge to mention it on your blog.