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Apr 14, 2008

5 Great Things About...Idiocracy

The Intro: The concept is pretty straightforward. Aside from going to the theater way too much, I also watch way too many movies on TV (or DVD). Since they're not new releases, I don't typically write a review for them, but there are often some things I'd like to say about them. Since I have a tendency to always find the negatives in things (I'm a champion pessimist), I've decided to pick five things from a movie that I've recently viewed that catch my eye or crack me up or inspire me or whatever. They could be anything from a whole performance, a single line (or even a single word), a sight gag, plot line, anything. So...

5 Great Things About...Idiocracy

1. Justin Long as Dr. Lexus
Justin Long appears to be everywhere these days. Starring in Accepted, on TV playing "Mac," tagging along with Bruce Willis in Die Hard, and taking small roles like this in any number of films (The Break-Up, Strange Wilderness).

Shortly after our protagonist Joe (Luke Wilson) arrives in 2505, he heads to a hospital to try and figure out what's wrong with him. It's there that he receives his diagnosis from Dr. Lexus. Here it is in all its eloquence:

"Well, don't want to sound like a dick or nothin', but, ah... it says on your chart that you're f*cked up. Ah, you talk like a fag, and your sh*t's all retarded. What I'd do, is just like... like... you know, like, you know what I mean, like..."

Those precise words are soon followed up by his advice for Joe's future:

"Don't worry scrote. There are plenty of 'tards out there living really kick ass lives. My first wife was 'tarded. She's a pilot now."


2. Stephen Root and David Herman
Two of Office Space's MVPs returned (Root played Milton; Herman was Michael Bolton) for writer/director Mike Judge. Root took on a small but excellent cameo as Judge Hank "The Hangman" BMW, who first sentences Joe to prison (using his extra large gavel, naturally), while Herman singed on to play one of President Dwayne Elizondo Mountain Dew Herbert Camacho's cabinet members (Secretary of State).

Sadly, Gary Cole (Bill Lumbergh) is nowhere to be found.

3. Brawndo
In one of the more inspired bits, it's revealed that in the future, Brawndo, a Gatorade-like drink, became so powerful that it not only bought the FDA and the FCC, but has pretty much replaced water in every capacity (outside of toilet use). As such, this drink "that plants crave!" and that's "got electrolytes!" is being used in drinking fountains and (even worse) to grow crops throughout the country. Not surprisingly, they're dying.

My favorite exchange of the movie happens shortly after Joe learns all of this, and sits down with the rest of the Cabinet (which includes a teenager and a "special" gentleman) to discuss using water instead of Brawndo to grow the crops. What results is a "Who's on First"-like circular exchange that tests Joe's patience and everyone else's sense of logic.

As a bonus, Brawndo (The Thirst Mutilator) is now for sale as an actual drink (and collector's item). I can't wait to get some...)

4. The Time Masheen
In a throwaway scene at the end of the movie, Joe eventually makes it to the long sought-after time machine, which turns out to just be an amusement park style ride called "The Time Masheen."

In it, patrons are given a visual history of the world, only, being idiots, the creators of the ride got it oh-so-wrong in such a right way. After depicting Charlie Chaplin as Hitler (I'm sure his family is proud), the ride later goes on to show how the U.S. fought the Nazis and later, how the United Nations came in and "un-Nazied the world."

The picture says 1,000 words, if you ask me.

5. The Overall Production Design
Most of the jokes to be found within Idiocracy are in the details - the sight gags, puns and malapropisms - and not within the narrative itself. So much attention was given to what today might look like in a world where everything just get's dumbed down to the lowest common denominator. Fuddruckers becomes Buttf*ckers, hospitals just go by the name of St. God, and Carls's Jr. has become a government-like entity capable of taking away one's children. Likewise, Starbucks, now a sex joint, offers "full-body" lattes and Costco is the size of a city, literally. Sure, many of the special effects are crude (though not quite Sci-Fi Channel-level crude), considering the sheer volume of effects and how low the film's budget likely was, it's a feat of creativity and frugality that the film looks as good as it does, and maintains the humor.

6 people have chosen wisely: on "5 Great Things About...Idiocracy"

Daniel G. said...

Hmm, I missed a screening of this at one point and totally forgot about it. Thanks for the reminder - I'll have to hope for another chance.

The Fraze said...

Weird. I heard this was absolutely horrible.

"Smart People" was nice though, very charming.

Anonymous said...

Love Stephen Root ... No Country, O Brother, Office Space, News Radio ...

Just saw the last half hour of this, but liked what I saw.

NFL Adam said...

I've wanted to see this for a long time. This is inspiring me.

WaywardJam said...

I found myself catching this a second time a few weeks back and still enjoyed it.

Granted it's not fall-out hilarious but it's damn funny in sparks. If only it had gotten more money & support in the early stages of production.

I've gotta add Maya Rudolph in as #6 in the list of Great Things About... (more so b/c Joe never gets it)

Now go away, Batin!

Fletch said...

@ the Fraze - it's certainly not for everyone, but if you like any of Judge's previous work, I'd think you'd enjoy this.

@ Rick - yea, I'm a huge fan of Root's as well. Such a versatile guy, and hilarious to boot.

@ Adam - I think you'd like it. Get on it.

@ Wayne - I think you hit the nail on the head. Parts of it are indeed stupid, and you might just have to be in the right frame of mind (I don't mean impaired, but that probably wouldn't hurt, either) to fully enjoy it. But the ere are some parts that just absolutely kill me, and there's SO MUCH stuff going on in the background that I appreciate it more with every viewing.

I know a lot of people really don't like Rudolph. I could go either way; she does good here, so I can't complain. And she's such a great painter! ;)