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The 365 Best Films of the 2000s

Heroes of the Zeroes: Idiocracy

Heroes of the Zeroes is Nick Rogers’ daily, alphabetical look back at the 365 best films of 2000-2009.

“Idiocracy”
Rated R
2006

If Mike Judge’s movie clout were an “Office Space” character, it would be Milton Waddams — consigned to cinema’s Storage Room B.

Not even “Office Space’s” immortal iconography of workplace suckitude could save Judge’s “Idiocracy” from languishing on Fox’s shelves for two years before a 130-screen dump over Labor Day 2006.

“From the director of ‘Office Space’ ” should’ve been slogan enough. But how does a studio market a scathing satire about advertising’s ultimate triumph over individuality — rumored to have sparked civil-suit threats from featured businesses like Fuddrucker’s, Costco and Carl’s Jr. and including a brilliant zinger at Fox’s own barbarous cable-news division?

“Idiocracy’s” demented look at destructive mass consumption barely approached feature length. However, Judge and co-writer Etan Cohen dotted every appealingly cheap scene with spastic sight gags and offered examples of cultural decay that were fiendishly hilarious and frighteningly plausible (e.g., a TV show called “Ow! My Balls,” electrolyte-enhanced Gatorade-esque drink Brawndo and an Oscar-sweeping movie called “Ass.”).

An Army man (Luke Wilson) and a prostitute (Maya Rudolph) agree to a cryogenic-hibernation experiment. Forgotten for 500 years, they awake to an America resembling an “American Gladiators” set, with exploded population and eroded intelligence. Now the smartest people alive, they must save the nation or face death.

Judge realizes it’s easier to sip 96-ounce iced tea while the world rots around us. But “Idiocracy’s” appeal to civic involvement, no matter how minor, genially understands that even getting the ball rolling on a simple improvement project can be a good start.

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3 Responses to “Heroes of the Zeroes: Idiocracy”

  1. [...] But how does a studio market a scathing satire about advertising’s ultimate triumph over individua… [...]

  2. Nick Rogers says:

    Corey: It really does have an unsettling brilliance, doesn’t it? Some stray observations: I love that the clothing and wallpaper of the future are basically advertisement-based jumpsuits and interior decorations. I’d put the "Not Sure" bit beside "Who’s on First?" as a classic verbal gag. The throwaway shot of the jet-ski party in the Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool makes me snort just thinking about it, as does the idea of a televised program known as "Monday Night Rehabilitation." And even the portraits of Terry Crews as President Dwayne Elizondo Mountain Dew Herbert Camacho that hang in the halls of the White House are uproarious.

  3. Corey Miller says:

    Love, love, love this movie. There are so many great lines in it and I think I watch it every time it’s on Comedy Central, even though it’s edited and I own it on DVD. It’s sad, but I wouldn’t be surprised if this is what our future really holds for us (or our decendents).