We spent New Year’s Eve at a friend’s apartment watching Idiocracy, a movie from 2006. It was simultaneously the most entertaining and depressing thing to have watched on that particular night – the one where you should feel hopeful for the new year and all that. Entertaining because it is a slam-dunk of a movie – director Mike Judge who also co-wrote the screenplay with writer Etan Cohen take a wildly outlandish premise and make it seem timeless and full of truth – and depressing because it resonates in an entirely realistic, non-outlandish way with life in the present day.
The basic story, if you haven’t yet watched it, is this – Joe Bauers (Luke Wilson) takes part in a clandestine hibernation program conducted by the US Army along with another candidate, a lady of the night called Rita (Maya Rudolph). Something goes wrong and when they emerge from their pods, it is not one year later as promised, by five hundred years later. The world as they know it is over. This is a new planet, filled with humans utterly devoid of intelligence. This leaves Bauers, a man of average intelligence, as the most intelligent man on the planet. After he’s done being bewildered by the utter stupidity on display everywhere, he must now use his wits (or everyone else’s lack thereof) to find a way out of this mess that is Humanity: Version Idiot.
It’s clear that this is a satire but the movie is very committed to showing you exactly how extreme things can get when stupidity is allowed to become humanity’s defining characteristic. There are no half-measures here, no stopping to congratulate oneself on a joke well-delivered. The movie builds a case for its vision of this particular future with a steady stream of examples in the form of characters, situations, institutions, practices, conundrums, conversations, and even commercials. They are the outlandish end results of seeds planted all around you today. It’s heightened but not impossible and I don’t think we will have to wait five hundred years to see it play out.
Final Analysis: Apparently this movie didn’t go down well in test screenings with select audiences so it was delayed for a while and then just kind of let go into theatres without any real plan. A pity, because all the social commentary aside, it really is funny.
My Advice: Watch this one for sure. If you’ve ever had the feeling that the landscape of intelligence is gradually shifting in a strange direction, you will relate.