Most people in America had no idea that Mike Judge‘s new comedy, Idiocracy, opened this weekend in five cities around the US (three of which being in Judge’s home state of Texas): Austin, Dallas, Houston, Chicago and LA.
Note it’s not playing in NYC. Usually everything plays NYC first. But not Idiocracy. FOX, who "released" it, didn’t bother making a trailer for it… or even a poster! This is Mike Judge… who created Beavis & Butthead, King of the Hill and cult hit Office Space (which was similary marketed by FOX but became huge on home video). It stars Luke Wilson! Could it really be so bad as to deserve such a dumping as this? I asked Dallas resident and friend of SoundBites Erich Scholz to take a look. Here’s his report:
Dealing with Mike Judge’s latest film, Idiocracy, I believe requires a two-tiered approach. On one hand, there is the film itself — a vicious and frequently funny satire on modern consumerism — and on the other there is its baffling critical reception in the mainstream press.
Judging from the way FOX has decided to bury the movie in very limited release at the end of the summer, one could easily be lead to believe that it stinks to high heaven. Well, the good news is, no, it doesn’t stink. While belly laughs may not be in abundance, the movie offers more genuine chuckles than any other recent Hollywood comedy. Star Luke Wilson is satisfying as the straight man in a nightmarish dystopia where the most frequently used words are "fuck," "ass" and "fag." Co-star Mya Rudolph is adequate as his co-star and the supporting cast — including cameos from Stephen Root, Thomas Haden Church and Office Space‘s David Herman — are perfect as the dumbed-down denizens of the future who survive on tubs of goo and electrolyte-fueled sports drinks.
While the frequently funny narration that strings the film together may not be to everyone’s taste, it certainly isn’t enough to derail the entire enterprise. If Rudolph’s character had been replaced by a more outlandish persona — say, a Mo’Nique type — I believe they could’ve gotten a few more comedy miles out of the pic. But as it is, Idiocracy is both subtle and leaden in its send-up of things to come — a society that has more in common with our own than most would like to admit.
But if you believe the reviews in Entertainment Weekly and The Dallas Morning News — which gave the movie an "F" — you’d wonder if they even saw the same film. Upon review, it’s quite obivious why Idiocracy is getting the cold shoulder. Judge is explicitly implicating major corporations, including Starbucks, Gatorade and even the Fox News Channel — by name — with the degradation of our civilization and that can’t sit too well with the higher ups. Rumors of lawsuits have been whispered in Internet chatrooms and despite the fact that Idiocracy is an original piece of filmmaking from one of the brightest comedic talents working in the medium today, the studio is content to quietly release the film into theaters before dumping it on video where it will undoubtedly find its audience. Now if only we could find out how much these film "reviewers" are getting paid to trash a movie that they probably didn’t even see. I give it a solid "B."
I’m not sure about conspiracy theories but EW‘s review seems nothing if not lazy. Did Joshua Rich even see it? They declared Office Space one of the biggest cult movies ever — complete with a big feature article — in an issue from the last two years (can’t remember when, exactly) and they can only devote 94 words to it’s follow-up?
ALSO: Read more about Mike Judge’s battles with the idiocracy that is FOX in this article on Esquire.com.