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Promotional poster for Idiocracy
Directed by Mike Judge
Produced by Mike Judge
Elysa Koplovitz
Michael Nelson
Written by Mike Judge
Etan Cohen
Narrated by Earl Mann
Starring Luke Wilson
Maya Rudolph
Dax Shepard
Music by Theodore Shapiro
Cinematography Tim Suhrstedt
Editing by David Rennie
Distributed by 20th Century Fox
Release date(s) September 1, 2006
Running time 84 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $2-3 million
Gross revenue $444,000 (Domestic)

Idiocracy is a 2006 American dark science fiction comedy directed by Mike Judge, and starring Luke Wilson and Maya Rudolph.

The film tells the story of two ordinary people who are taken into a top-secret military hibernation experiment that goes awry, and awaken 500 years in the future. They discover that the world has degenerated into a dystopia where advertising, commercialism, and cultural anti-intellectualism run rampant and dysgenic pressure has resulted in a uniformly stupid human society.

Despite its lack of a major theatrical release, the film has achieved something of a cult following because of its satire of the “dumbing down” of contemporary society and the breakdown of individual responsibility and consequences.[citation needed]


[edit] Plot

A narrator explains that in modern society, natural selection has become indifferent toward intelligence, so that in a society in which intelligence is systematically debased, stupid people easily out-breed the intelligent, creating, over the course of five centuries, an irremediably dysfunctional society. Demographic superiority favors those least likely to advance society.[1] Consequently, the children of the educated élites are drowned in a sea of sexually promiscuous, illiterate, alcoholic, degenerate peers.

In 2005, Corporal Joe Bauers (Luke Wilson), a US Army librarian graphed as the Army's "most average" soldier, and Rita (Maya Rudolph), a prostitute whose pimp, Upgrayedd, is paid to make sure she is not missed, are guinea pigs in a secret, year-long, military hibernation project. They are sealed in their hibernation chambers, to be awakened a year later, but the experiment is forgotten when the officer in charge, Lieutenant Colonel Collins (Michael McCafferty), is arrested for having started his own prostitution ring under the tutelage of Upgrayedd. The military base is demolished, and a Fuddruckers (eventually devolving into "Buttfuckers") is built on the site.

Five hundred years in the future, their hibernation chambers are jarred open in the 'Great Garbage Avalanche of 2505', reviving both of them. Joe crashes into the apartment of Frito Pendejo (Dax Shepard), a typical idiot-citizen of the future U.S., with an apartment full of junk food and a prominent, giant television that is covered with adverts. His name, Frito Pendejo is a haphazard combination of a product mascot (Frito Bandito) and the Spanish insult pendejo.

Joe is disoriented: in a brief conversation, Frito insults Joe's "more advanced" manner of speaking as "faggy"; in a hospital, slacker Dr. Lexus, MD (Justin Long) diagnoses him as simply "'tarded" and "fucked up". Dr. Lexus panics on discovering that Joe has no barcode tattoo on his left wrist, and so cannot be scanned for automatic debit payment from his bank account. Having noticed that the date of a magazine he finds on the doctor's desk (Hot Naked Chicks and World Report, 3 March 2505) is the same date indicated on his bill, Joe finally grasps that 500 years have passed since the Army put him in stasis and flees the hospital.

Joe is disturbed by the sights of the collapsing world, particularly the Oscar-winning film "Ass," which is exactly that: A man's buttocks, which occasionally pass gas, on screen for 90 minutes straight. Joe is arrested for not paying his hospital bill and for not having a barcode tattoo. Meanwhile, Rita is not as shocked to see the newly changed world and is back to the prostitution game. However, she makes a man wait for three days without putting out and charging him by the hour as he waits to have sex with her.

At his trial, Joe's public defense lawyer ("Attornee at Law") is none other than Frito, who stupidly helps convict him, citing the prosecutor's insistence that Joe is guilty and his own anger at Joe for getting garbage in his apartment. Joe is imprisoned; a poorly-designed I.D.-tattoo machine renames Joe "Not Sure" (the machine asks for his name as it appears on a government form, which he repeatedly states he is not sure of as he has never seen one) and barcode-tattoos him as such. During a mandatory (and very simple) I.Q. test, Joe grasps just how stupid humanity has become. Easily escaping his dim jailers, Joe returns to Frito's apartment, asking him if a time machine exists to help him return to the past, to 2005. Frito claims there is one, but agrees to help only after Joe promises him billions of dollars in interest on a bank account that Joe will open in the past on his return.

En route to the time machine, Joe and Frito find Rita. She doesn't realize that she's been asleep for 500 years until Joe tells her so, but even so, she fears Upgrayedd will find her. Frito leads them to a city-sized Costco, where Joe is arrested again after his bar code is accidentally scanned. Instead of going back to jail, however, Joe is taken to the White House. President Dwayne Elizondo Mountain Dew Herbert Camacho (Terry Crews) has seen Joe's I.Q. test, which shows him to be the most intelligent man in the world, and recruits him as Secretary of the Interior to correct the world's food shortages, dust bowls, crippled economy, and related issues. The character traits of the other cabinet members could be seen as an attempt to ridicule undesirable elements in current politics such as nepotism, corruption due to corporate loyalty, and an emphasis on sex appeal in media coverage of politics. Joe learns that water has been replaced by Brawndo: The Thirst Mutilator, an energy drink advertised as rich in electrolytes, for virtually every purpose, including crop irrigation. Water is only used in toilets. Over time, the electrolytes in the Brawndo had accumulated in the soil, killing the crops and causing the food shortage. Joe requests that he have Frito and Rita brought to him so he and Rita can try to get to the time machine again, but the map Frito draws for Joe turns out to be all but useless, so he decides to help with the food shortage.

After several failed attempts to convince the cabinet members to use water, Joe simply tells them that he can talk to plants, and promises that if they use water on the crops, it will end both the food shortage and dust bowls. Shortly after this, however, the giant Brawndo Corporation's stock plummets, causing massive unemployment (since half the country works for Brawndo) without visibly improving the crop situation. The angry population subsequently riots, and Joe is sentenced to a Running Man/Mad Max/demolition derby style "rehabilitation". Meanwhile, Rita discovers that Joe's reintroduction of water to the soil has finally made vegetation sprout in the fields. To save Joe (and with Frito in tow), she bribes a TV cameraman to show the thriving crops to the world. Before they reach the crop field, they are distracted by a sale at Starbucks, now a brothel chain. Joe gives a heartfelt speech, asking everyone if they really want to kill the one person who's trying to help them, but is simply laughed at. It is only after Frito gets into an argument with the cameraman that he remembers his duty, and picks up the camera. The President sees the thriving new plants on the stadium's big screen televisions and gives Joe a full pardon just as he is about to be incinerated by a flamethrower.

At the celebration, Joe decides to stay and help repair civilization; President Camacho names him Vice President of America. He also learns that the "Time Masheen" is simply an amusement park history ride wherein Charlie Chaplin is depicted as the leader of the Nazi Party, where dinosaurs were used to wage war and the U.N. "Un-Nazied the world forever". Joe serves a short term as Vice President and is subsequently elected as Camacho's successor. During his acceptance speech, Joe is heard making statements to the effect that in his time, reading "wasn't just for fags" and that movies had plots that made people care "whose ass it was and why it was farting". The narrator states that, although Joe did not save humanity from itself, he did put it back on the track towards intelligence. Joe and Rita marry and have the world's three smartest children, while Frito, now Joe's Vice President, takes eight wives and fathers thirty-two of the world's stupidest children, echoing the introduction to the film.

After the credits, a third hibernation capsule is shown opening, releasing a snappily dressed Upgrayedd intent on tracking down Rita, and setting up the possibility of a sequel.

[edit] Cast

According to a radio interview with Mike Judge, he originally offered the cameo role of the Brawndo CEO to Office Space star Ron Livingston, but instead cast Thomas Haden Church because of scheduling conflicts.[citation needed]

[edit] Production

Early working titles included The United States of Uhh-merica[2] and 3001. Filming took place during 2004 in and around the cities of Austin, San Marcos, Pflugerville, and Round Rock, Texas.[3] 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.[4]

[edit] Release issues

As of February 2005 the film's scheduled release date was August 5, 2005, according to Mike Judge.[5] In April 2006, a release date was set for September 1, 2006. In August, numerous articles[6] 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), and expanded to only 125 theaters, not the usual wide release of 2500-3000 theaters. According to the Austin American-Statesman[7], 20th Century Fox, the film's distributor, did nothing to promote the movie — while posters were released to theatres, no movie trailers, television ads, or press kits for media outlets were provided. The film was not screened for critics.[8] Lack of concrete information from 20th Century Fox led to speculation that Fox 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 AP.[9] In the New York Times Dan Mitchell argued that Fox might be shying away from a cautionary tale about low-intelligence dysgenics.[10] This was a result of the film's anti-corporate message, noting that in the film Starbucks now 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!"[11] Also in the film, a Carl's Jr. vending machine cheats a customer (not only of her food, but takes custody of her children as well), Fuddruckers' name gradually morphs into "Buttfuckers", the fictional Brawndo corporation buys the F.D.A. and the F.C.C, and the Fox News Channel is depicted in unflattering newscasts (20th Century Fox, which distributed the film, and the Fox News Channel are both owned by the Rupert Murdoch-controlled News Corporation).

[edit] Reception

Idiocracy was not screened for critics. Its much-delayed release received no publicity and the film was initially distributed to only 130 screens.

Despite these troubles, the film received generally favorable reviews by critics. It received a 72% "fresh" rating on Rotten Tomatoes[12] (from 38 reviews). Praise focused on concept, casting, and humor; the worst of the criticism was directed at the film's release issues, and some special effects and pacing problems.

Box office receipts totaled $444,093 in 135 theaters in the U.S.[13]

[edit] Releases

The movie was released on DVD on January 9, 2007 with fullframe 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 the limited theatrical release.[14] On September 1, 2007 the film opened for cable and satellite viewers on the Cinemax premium channel, and started airing on HBO networks in January 2008. On February 15, 2009 the film received its basic cable premiere, shown edited for TV on Comedy Central. However, one written use of the word "fuck" was still shown, in the parody of the restaurant Fuddruckers known as "Buttfuckers" (removed, since the premiere).

Recently in the United Kingdom, Sky channel "Sky Comedy" (part of its movies package; not pay-per-view) recently shown an unedited version of the Idiocracy screening on the 26th February 2009, where more than one instance of profane written language is entirely in view. It is now being shown without any censorship.

[edit] Cult following

Despite the small release and lack of promotion, Idiocracy has grown to have a strong following. In 2007, Omni Consumer Products [15] (named after the fictitious RoboCop corporation) introduced Brawndo as a real energy drink, in conjunction with Redux Beverages.[16] It is marketed online with a tongue-in-cheek YouTube advertisement featuring the voice of comedian Mark Little, inspired by one of the Picnicface sketches called "Powerthirst."[17]

[edit] Scientific basis

The intelligence-reducing theme of the film follows the theories of British evolutionary biologist Ronald Fisher in his book The Genetical Theory of Natural Selection; and a similar premise in the short story The Marching Morons by Cyril M. Kornbluth.[citation needed]Chaos theory, entropy, and enthalpy are concepts that are exemplified throughout the film.

[edit] See also

[edit] References

  1. ^ "Cognoscenti of the world, procreate" Neo-Cognoscenti: Global Affairs and Culture, "Cognoscenti of the world, procreate," September 14, 2007.
  2. ^ So What Idiot Kept This Movie Out of Theaters? NPR. Thomas Pierce, January 11, 2007. Retrieved February 9, 2007.
  3. ^ Texas Film Commission Filmography (2000-2006) Office of the Governor. Retrieved 2007-04-27.
  4. ^ Mike Judge's Idiocracy Tests! (etc.) Eric Vespe for anonymous contributor, August 22, 2005. Retrieved 2007-02-09.
  5. ^ Mike Judge Still Not In "3001" Dark Horizons. Garth Franklin, February 28, 2005. Retrieved 2007-02-09.
  6. ^ MTV Movie File Larry Carroll, August 30, 2006. Retrieved 2007-02-09.
  7. ^ Was 'Idiocracy' treated idiotically? Austin American-Statesman. Chris Garcia, August 30, 2006. Retrieved 2007-02-09.
  8. ^ Idiocracy (review) The Onion A.V. Club. Nathan Rabin, September 6, 2006. Retrieved 2007-02-08.
  9. ^ The mystery of 'Idiocracy'. Associated Press. Ryan Pearson, September 8, 2006. Retrieved 2006-11-25.
  10. ^ Shying away from Degeneracy. New York Times. Dan Mitchell, September 9, 2006. Retrieved 2006-11-25.
  11. ^ Financial Film Database Analysis. Financial Film Database at August 8, 2008. Retrieved 2008-08-10.
  12. ^ Idiocracy Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 2007-09-26.
  13. ^ Idiocracy Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 2007-02-02.
  14. ^ Idiocracy - DVD / Home Video Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 2007-06-03.
  15. ^ Omni Consumer Products website
  16. ^ This Joke’s for You - A satirical product from a dark comedy crosses over to reality., The Press-Enterprise, 2007-11-28
  17. ^ "One Step Closer to Idiocracy: Brawndo to be a Real Drink." posted by Todd Jackson December 3, 2007, accessed December 30, 2007

[edit] External links

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