Monday 20 December 2021

Movie Review: Idiocracy (2006)

A science fiction comedy, Idiocracy offers a few chuckles but is defeated by a flimsy one-note premise.

In 2005, the US Army selects average soldier Joe Bauers (Luke Wilson) for a one-year suspended animation experimental project. The other subject is prostitute Rita (Maya Rudolph). Something goes wrong, with Joe and Rita waking up 500 years later in 2505.

They find a world disintegrating under the weight of sheer dumbness, with humans having suffered continuous erosion of IQ over the centuries. In this derelict future Joe and Rita seek the help of lawyer Frito (Dax Shepard) to search for a time travel machine, but Joe is first thrown in prison then recognized as the smartest living human and summoned by President Camacho (Terry Crews) to solve all the world's problems.

Seeking laughs from stupidity is humour's lowest common denominator, and all of Idiocracy is constructed on the idea of humanity heading towards a phenomenally stupid future. Director and co-writer Mike Judge extrapolates evidence of declining IQ levels towards an end game where everyone is a moron, and a barely-functioning society is dominated by corporations equally governed by dumb people.

And so the streets are over-run by garbage, buildings are barely upright, reading and writing are lost arts, money and/or sex are predominant obsessions, vulgarity is widespread, every inch of space and every spoken sentence is used for advertising, and multi-syllable words are a stretch for most citizens. Joe as the most average guy in 2005 is now by far the brightest spark, and once his intelligence is recognized, he is tasked with sorting out the mess.

Idiocracy offers funky visuals and some laughs at the sheer imbecility on display, but otherwise expires well before the scant 84 minutes run out. And if Judge did err in his basic hypothesis, it was only because he was tragically generous in his timeline.

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