Released in 2006, this Mike Judge comedy is the sharpest realistic observation of our future we have seen outside of maybe Wall-E. Forget the advanced A.I of Terminator or Bicentenial Man, we would be better off suffering the apocalyptic end of movies like The Day After Tomorrow or Waterworld than see the world of Idiocracy come to pass. But alas, you get the awful feeling we are heading towards watering crops with sports drink every time you watch free to air television or read buzzfeed clickbait about celebrity divorce.
Idiocracy sees Luke WIlson as Joe Bauers, an outstandingly average military man, frozen as part of a secret experiment. Originally scheduled to be frozen for 12 months, Bauers wakes to find himself in 2505, a world where corporations are king, education is derided and humanity faces extinction due to overpopulation, failed agriculture and excess rubbish. Alongside former fellow popsicle Rita (Maya Rudolph) and mongoloid lawyer Frito (Dax Sheppard), Joe looks to put humanity back on the right course while avoiding opposition on all sides.
Idiocracy is as equally scary as it is hilarious. Its obvious satire of modern day America could easily be held alongside other socially aware comedies like BASEketball, Thank You For Smoking and God Bless America, but where Idiocracy may hold a more lasting impact is how prophetic its dismal outlook has become even now, a decade after the film was written. The inclusion of corporate branding on every miniscule element of our lives seems inevitable, education and intelligence are being forgotten, replaced by easy fame. While there is so much to look at and laugh in Idiocracy, the laughter may be more nervous than anything as we push closer to the precipice that leads to this world becoming a reality.
Idiocracy didn’t win any awards for writing or acting. Its reliance in parts on gross out infantile humour is reminiscent of much of Judge’s other work, but comes part and parcel of a film about the decline of civilization. We are given a snapshot of the world but I would love to be able to see more of how it has changed. Judge packs hundreds of references into background jokes and it would be amazing to see some of those jokes or concepts fleshed out a bit. What we really needed was Idiocracy the TV Series, but such a majestic beast was never forthcoming. If you watch Idiocracy expecting Aaron Sorkin writing and David Fincher directing, then you will be disappointed. If you want a horrifically realistic Jetsons, then this is your film.
Can we use this film to teach school children about safe sex and staying in school? Why not. Like much of Judge’s work, it was unable to find a specific audience upon its release, but will continue to grow as a cult film which may one day prove to be pointed at like a work of Nostradamus. Lets hope not and instead is as accurate as the 2001: A Space Odyssey prediction of the turn of the millennium.
With a bucket load of social commentary about the 00’s and even well placed jokes to get you above the frequent vulgarity, Idiocracy represents what may be Mike Judge’s best work to date. Playing outside of the small town America he developed in Office Space, Beavis and Butthead and King Of The Hill, Judge works with America as a whole and perfectly captures where the country was in the last decade and how that potentially spelt disaster for the future in the most realistic and frightening way possible. After all, Donald Trump is running for President and Kanye West might not be far behind him.