Monday, May 14, 2007

Are we not men? We are Devo

Mike Judge had great success with the cult hit Office Space in the 90s, so it is a little surprising that Fox gave zero promotion to his recent Idiocracy. It could be that he hits too many targets (including Fox News) a little too closely.

This is a nasty satire of modern life in the form of a sci-fi comedy. Luke Wilson plays Joe, a shiftless Army private, chosen to participate in a one year test of suspended animation. Things go wrong and he is frozen for 500 years. When he wakes up, he finds that humanity has devolved, growing more and more stupid with each passing year. By the year 2505, Joe is now the world's smartest man, and his test-mate, the world's smartest woman.

Judge attacks the cultural fixation with base humor, mindless violence, the creeping commercialism of daily life and the replacement of thought with entertainment. In do so doing he uses the crass humor he attacks, but I do think he is asking us to laugh at it, rather than with it. For example, in the future, the most popular TV is called Ow! My Balls! and is nothing but an endless stream of shots to the sack. This of course is similar to America's Funniest Home Videos. The most popular movie is called Ass, and is 90 minutes of an ass that occasionally farts.

Judge hits Fox News with an idiotic correspondent who seems like a mildly less intelligent Nancy Grace. My favorite moment involves Joe trying to convince his eventual colleagues of a solution to a national problem. Unfortunately, this conflicts with an ad slogan, and the cognitive dissonance is too much too bear. It's quite funny to see their confusion, but I swear I am going to do my best to forget ad slogans.

I loved this movie and wish it got more play. If you don't mind the crass humor (imagine the devolution of burger joint Fuddrucker's name) you should actually find it stimulating.

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