Carl's Jr.: "F**k You, I'm Eating."

The movie I'm talking about here might not be quite in line with this blog's usual subject matter, but it's my blog and I can talk about whatever I want in it, so there. Besides, it does have a bit of a sci-fi element to it, so as far as I'm concerned it's close enough. I'd heard about Idiocracy several months ago, but didn't bother picking it up until I found it at a price equivalent to what I'd expect it to be worth -- in this case, about seven bucks. It turns out my "blind appraisal" was just about right: not great by any means, but not quite a waste of an hour and a half, either.

Idiocracy tells the story of a slightly-less-than-intelligent government lackey (played by Luke Wilson) who's easily duped, along with an equally lower-middle-intellect prostitute, into being the guinea pig in what's supposed to be a one-year-long cryogenics experiment run by the government. However, when the project's funding is yanked, they're both somehow forgotten (in a not-quite-plausible sequence of events, which is better left as glossed-over here as it was in the movie) and remain in deep-freeze for a staggering 500 years. Unfortunately, instead of awakening to a marvelously enlightened utopia, they find a woefully neglected and dumbed-down world of the future in which, to the audience's horror, they're by default the most intelligent humans on the planet.

You might be thinking that this is a bit thin of a premise to base a 90-minute movie on, and for the most part you'd be right. But writer-director Mike Judge and co-writer Etan Cohen make the most of it, peppering the movie with plenty of subtle and not-so-subtle visual and verbal jokes to keep it reasonably entertaining. A primary theme: the consumerism and product-placement that's already begun a steady increase in our present day has so saturated the future world as seen in Idiocracy that no one can really go -- or even simply look -- anywhere where they won't be bombarded by an advertisement of some sort -- even to the point that literally every piece of clothing that the characters wear is emblazoned with some corporate logo, and the people reflexively spout corporate slogans (routinely containing four-letter words, as in the example in this post's title) without thinking. The future state of health care and of Costco will also be sure to amuse, as will the most subtle sight gag in the movie -- I'll keep that one a secret and see if you pick up on it.

The more astute viewer will of course see the subtext of social commentary that's veiled in the movie's humor. Having worked around young adults for years now, I've been witnessing first-hand how the dereliction of the U.S. educational system and the technologically-induced shortening of the youth's attention spans have begun stripping today's kids of the ability to think for themselves, and chipping away at the IQ of the average American at an almost noticeable speed. (Indeed, I frankly don't know how many more years my patience for these youngsters is going to hold out.) It might sound like I'm exaggerating, but considering that the movie takes place 500 years in the future, I can actually envision a world as haplessly screwed-up as the one we see come to pass in Idiocracy ... especially taking into account the positively hilarious -- and frighteningly plausible -- theory for the nation's intellectual deterioration that's laid out in the movie's opening scenes.

While the students I'm exposed to here at my place of employment still seem to put more importance on socio-political affairs than entertainment (and can still tell the two apart), and the English language hasn't yet descended into an expletive-laden mess of barely-coherent mumble (though I can't stand these kids who say the word "like" 27 times in the average sentence), I do still fear the day when that balance will shift -- a day when "Ow! My Balls" will be TV's highest-rated show, a foul-mouthed pro-wrestler/porn-star (and not retired, either) will somehow be elected President, and Fuddrucker's has had its name unintentionally morphed into Buttf**ker's with the humor of it being totally lost on the uniformly dim-witted populace. For the moment, though, this movie is still more entertaining than it is frustrating. Its audience may be limited -- since I haven't traveled outside my home country in over twenty years and thus have no gauge of the level of commercialism elsewhere, I'm not sure how well the movie's social commentary will translate to overseas audiences -- and even in America, there are only so many people who would be able to appreciate it as anything more than a screwball comedy.

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