January 15, 2007

Idiocracy now out on DVD

I've seen it three times now and my wife has watched it four times. If Fox had promoted "Idiocracy" the way they promoted "Borat," courting controversy, they would have had a "Borat"-sized hit.

Unfortunately, when watching it at home on DVD, you miss experiencing the horrifying Charlton-Heston-and-the-Statue-of-Liberty moment when "Idiocracy" is over and you emerge from the theatre into the mall full of shiny logos and sniggering pedestrians and you realize that reality today looks just like 2505 does in the movie. (Unless your home looks like Frito's apartment, which, now that I think about it, mine kind of does.)

From the Washington Times:

Puzzling fate of a film satire
By Kelly Jane Torrance

... Steve Sailer, a film critic for the American Conservative magazine, points out that Fox didn't tell Moviefone the film's name, so it was called simply "Untitled Mike Judge Comedy" on the listings site.

"Idiocracy" finally gets a nationwide release this week with its appearance on DVD, but Fox is still making little effort to promote the film.

Fox didn't respond to a request for comment, and Mr. Judge isn't talking, either. So we may never know exactly why the film was spiked, although there are plenty of theories. ...

Of course, one target of the film's satire is a division of the studio's parent company. In Mr. Judge's vision of the future, Fox News Channel anchors are bodybuilders and strippers, although barely more sensationalistic than they are today. Perhaps News Corp. head Rupert Murdoch doesn't have a sense of humor -- or maybe his executives fear he doesn't.

Mr. Sailer is one who thinks it's more about content than conflict. " 'Idiocracy's' extraordinary political incorrectness seems the most likely explanation," he says.

"Judge's obsessions have been consistent throughout 'B & B,' 'King of the Hill,' 'Office Space' and 'Idiocracy': IQ, class, masculinity and their complex interplay in America," says Mr. Sailer, who often writes about such issues. "Judge's admirable Hank Hill shows that you don't have to have a high IQ to be a good man and valuable citizen, as Luke Wilson's slack-off, 100-IQ Pvt. Joe Bauers learns by the end of 'Idiocracy.' But you need some traditional values, which Beavis and Butt-Head, whose single mothers let them be raised by MTV, never absorbed."

Such deep themes may make "Idiocracy" a tougher sell than the white-collar workplace satire "Office Space," whose subject was so much more universal. "This is more of a 'Sleeper'-esque Woody Allen smart-dumb comedy," Mr. Knowles [of Ain't It Cool News] says.

He believes that Mr. Judge's "edgy" creativity needs a "patron." "When Kevin Smith had crazy studio trouble with 'Mallrats,' he ended up taking up a shingle with [then-Miramax chief Harvey] Weinstein and has been happily making movies ever since," he says.

"He's one of the funniest men alive. He definitely understands how to make an audience laugh," Mr. Knowles says. "I'm not really worried about Mike Judge."

Mr. Sailer calls the director "one of the more interesting, insightful, and misunderstood figures in all of American popular culture."

But as Esquire's Brian Raftery asked, before Fox even spiked the film, "If the guy who made 'Office Space' has to kowtow to his ... boss, what hope is there for the rest of us?" [More]

My published articles are archived at iSteve.com -- Steve Sailer


Anonymous said...

I've alrady watched the movie a half dozen times myself.

The funniest character is the doctor at the beginning. The way he says "tarded" when talking about his wife nearly puts me in tears.

Anonymous said...

Why isn't apocalyptic Mel "patronizing" this "edgy" creativity?

Timothy said...

Ok, Steve, we've got the message. You've got the hots for Kelly.

Well, I wouldn't say no, either.

Anonymous said...

I tried to rent Idiotocracy last night. Hollywood video had five copies, all rented out. Blockbuster had three copies, both rented out. The local non-chain video store had two copies, both rented out.

Perhaps through word of mouth, alot of people might get to see this thing over the next two or three months while its still on the "new release" walls at video stores.

Anonymous said...

Bought it and watch it the same night. I thought Idiocracy was an average film.

The stupid people seemed too intelligent to be that stupid. For example, they created and maintained a TV show with special effects (Ow! My Balls!). If we were to assume they were that stupid for more than 10 years, they should have no TV, no running water, (plumbing works well in this movie), and mass famine. (Supposedly a famine is on during the movie, but everyone looks way well fed to be in any REAL famine.)

So check your brain at the door. I gave it a B-

Gerald Hibbs said...

I had a similar reaction to anonymous. I enjoyed much of the film but the effects of the stupidity were so uneven it was distracting. These people had the IQ's of 3 year olds according to the intro, there is no way they could maintain the complex infrastructure necessary to still have restaurants even if they were named "Butt F***ers" much less the rest of what is presented.

He should have arrived in a semi cave man era when the stupid people were dancing around his cryogenic chamber like it was the obelisk in 2001. That's impressive enough but when he shows them how to use some of the artifacts from the previous civilization they bow before him as a god.

Of course, then the chance for much of the social satire would have been lost.

Anonymous said...

You guys all talk like fags.

Anonymous said...

Idiocracy was an average film. I think Steve Sailer simply likes it because it deals with IQ.

The movie looks low budget (poor special effects) and goes over the top with "potty" humor.

Overall, it is nothing really special.

Anonymous said...

"Perhaps through word of mouth, alot of people might get to see this thing over the next two or three months while its still on the "new release" walls at video stores."

This movie is not going to become a cult classic like Office Space. The movie is just not that good. I expect it to fade into obscurity.

tggp said...

I never would have heard of this film if it hadn't been for Sailer. After watching it my family was almost ready to forgive me for renting a string of stinkers because the American Film Institute said they were great. Thanks Steve!

I was disappointed that the only special features on the DVD were a few deleted scenes, with no directors commentary. Office Space had one and it only became a cult hit years after its theater release, so perhaps the same thing will happen with Idiocracy and a better DVD will be released.

Anonymous said...

Regarding the rental distribution, a friend of mine told me a Blockbuster in Chicago had "7 shelves" of it, and they were all sold out late on a Friday night.

James Kabala said...

I haven't seen the movie (unsurprisingly) and may or may not rent it eventually, but at least one liberal (I assume) critic more or less liked it - Dana Stevens of Slate.


Hat tip, as they say, to Daniel Larison.

Russell said...

My local Blockbuster had several shelves devoted to it (like 7 or so - whatever it takes to make up one bank of shelves from floor to ceiling), and all of them were rented out.

I will say that my hopes for the movie are slightly reduced from watching the recently loaded clips on Youtube (they didn't exist until the DVD had come out and people made clips out of short video captures on their own).

The feel I get from these short vignettes is that the movie is more of an unfinished concept. The narration, for instance, was too heavy-handed and intrusive. It made me think Judge didn't want to take the time to figure out to get a joke across visually, so he just stuck it in as a line for the narrator.

AllanF said...

I signed up for it on Netflix toward the end of Dec and got it the day after it was released. I watched it twice last week and was generally disappointed. It had its moments, but overall just wasn't that funny.

But I will say this, after watching it, I couldn't believe there was any question as to why it may have been spiked. It's race. All the extras are half-latino lookin' dumb-*sses. While the white people aren't all that bright, they at least are thinking. The brown folk seem capable only of not drooling on themselves.

pjgoober said...

Personally, I didn't notice the different races of people in Idiocracy acting too different intelligence-wise. I think the key was that there were a lot of minorities in the film. A movie about equally incredibly stupid people with a significant portion of those people happening to be non-white is probably controversial in and of itself.

Anonymous said...

Idiocracy is like a very long SNL skit. It is funny at first, but the lame special effects, endless narration, and gag humor get to be annoying.

vanya said...

OK, maybe this paranoia, but is there any possibility that this whole "suppression" was a stunt cooked up by Fox Marketing? Doesn't the studio make more off DVD sales and rentals than the theatrical release? And, knowing that Mike Judge has a huge cult following, wouldn't the value maximizing strategy be to "suppress" the film, saving millions in advertising revenue, while spreading word-of-mouth about how great this suppressed film is. The cult of Judge springs into action sending DVD sales and rentals through the roof (it's currently #40 on Amazon). Even if this wasn't intentional, the irony is that it looks like Fox will make a lot of money off this little film while doing very little promotional work. Big win for Fox, or am I missing something?

vanya said...

Sorry, that should have read "advertising EXPENSES" above, not "revenue"

AllanF said...

pjgoober, I have two thoughts on the race topic.

1) With a couple notable exceptions, it seemed like the extras were universally mixed-latino, while everyone with a speaking role was white.

2) Given the typical Hollywood movie is overwhelmingly white, any movie that is 50% latino is going to seem markedly over-representing that group in relation to what people are used to seeing.

Jerri Lynn Ward, J.D. said...

The message I got from the movie was much more than the IQ issue. I thought the extreme emphasis on consumption, instant gratification, sex and the lack of ability or motivation to produce were the most compelling messages.

I see some trends going that way. Also, I just finished John Gatto's The Underground History of American Education which deals with public education's role in the "dumbing down" of America.

It really doesn't matter what kind of IQ one has, if one doesn't know how to use it.

Dog of Justice said...

I finally watched it last night. My overall impression: many good ideas, but could use an awful lot of work on the execution; I had an easier time maintaining suspension of disbelief with many 40-year-old films. In its current state, I don't particularly mind that it was "suppressed"; if we want to communicate these ideas effectively to a true mass audience, we really should do it in a more polished manner. But maybe, if Judge were given more resources, he could have pulled it off, and I'm sad that I can't see what that movie would have looked like.

Pepsi Brown said...

What "anonymous" sez. The narrator's voice sounds faggy.

Anonymous said...

This is a wonderful movie! Thanks so much for pointing it out, since Fox sure wasn't going to.

As for all those who went so far out of their way to give thumbs down on a movie they probably never saw, your opinions are your opinions. KBISFB

Anonymous said...

Saw the film last night. Slightly funny, a bit like Beavis and Butthead with live acting. I'm guessing Sailer likes this so much because of the IQ theme, but nearly all of the gags could be seen a mile off.

It's interesting in it's theme, but the writing isn't sohot.