Friday, September 08, 2006

An Idiots Guide to Idiocracy

Yep, that's us at the Alamo Drafthouse Cinema on South Lamar last Friday. The picture was taken and included in a review of the film we were about to watch by Austin resident, Jette Kernion.

It's a tiny tragedy that you haven't heard of this movie, and it's not because it's that good. It's because there is so much that gets released that's one hundred times worse. You see, Mike Judge, the mind behind the cult hit Office Space, the long-running television show King of the Hill, and a couple of kids named Beavis and Butt-head, has a new movie out. It's called Idiocracy, and it premiered last weekend in a piddling 7 cities: Austin, Los Angeles, Houston, Dallas, Atlanta, Chicago, and Toronto (that's right, New York, you'll have to wait for the DVD). Twentieth Century Fox has no plans to release the film any wider. In addition, the decision was made not to market the movie. There were no trailers or television spots, and there certainly weren't any advance press screenings. In other words, Friday night was probably the closest I've been to a World Premiere, albeit one without a shred of fanfare.

Much of Idiocracy was filmed here in Austin with several locals in the cast and crew. Mike Judge lives here as well. The theater was pretty full so it crossed my mind that this might be an impromptu cast party for a film that had completed principal photography over two years ago, but they probably didn't get the news that the film was opening that day either.

As for the movie itself, here's a synopsis:
Writer-director Mike Judge's ("Office Space") unique brand of humor examines an average guy who volunteers to be the subject of a hibernation experiment that goes awry. He wakes up 500 years in the future, discovering that he's the smartest guy on the planet.
Funny premise, right? Well, I can tell you that the first twenty minutes of this film is a riot. The remaining 75 minutes is as much funny as it is wildly uneven. It sustains clever idea after clever idea while trafficking in the lowest of lowbrow humor, but in the dumbed-down society of the future, we're not all that surprised to see that Starbucks has started selling sexual favors in lieu of grande mocha frappucinos and that everone wears Crocs. If the movie has an overriding fault, it's that it's overstuffed with similar ideas, a few of which miss the mark or get too much attention. In this movie's case, the devil really is in the details.

While you don't go see a movie of this type for character development and an intriguing plot, the whole thing hangs on the hope that the premise and its accompanying sight gags don't wear out their welcome before the credits roll. Luckily, the movie makes it across the finish line just in time by leaving out the protracted parts that malign most modern comedies, namely, the long denouement where the film's protagonist mends his errant and anti-social ways just in time to be the hero, virtually pulling the rug out from under everything that made his antics funny in the first place. This time we know the guy's gonna be the hero. He's the smartest person in the room (nevermind the planet), but he's also the straight man. The hilarity is running rampant around him, and this is truly a hilarious film.

It's too bad that most of you won't see it.


Christian Crowe said...

I've been wanting to see this since I heard about it. Thanks for the review, I think Chelle and I will have to go.

PS. We've got tickets to Austin!!!

JamyeO said...