You've got to pity poor Mike Judge. While his TV shows Beavis and Butthead and King of the Hill have been wildly successful, his big screen endeavours have been almost all been box office bombs. It's only two or three years later that people catch his films on TV or DVD and learn that it actuality they are pretty decent, funny flicks.
Idiocracy sees Luke Wilson play an everyman soldier who signs up for a military experiment to test human hibernation. He and another volunteer, Rita (Maya Rudolph) are placed in high tech pods but due to some confusion, their pods are forgotten about and they end up waking 500 years in the future where the average intelligence of a human being has massively decreased. Consumerism is rife with shopping malls now the size of small countries, people are glued to TVs, drink nothing but energy drinks and junk food, and talk almost entirely slang and swear words. Wilson quickly realises he is the smartest man alive by quite some way but really he wants nothing more to find a time machine and get back to his own time. It's sort of like Planet of the Apes but with stupid people.
This is a pretty bold vision of the future and a damning critique of where society is heading. If there's any criticism to the film – and really it applies to all of Judge's films – they are just too loosely plotted, seemingly content to meander from one scene to the next. A lot of reviewers have said this film would have been far better as a sketch – and maybe it would – but it's interesting to see Judge stretch it out to feature length (though really it only runs about 75 minutes) and give a complete vision of the future.
Where the film really succeeds are the jokes and sight gags. As a narrative, the film really doesn't go very far but the jokes are top notch. For example, when Wilson first comes out the hibernation pod he goes to see a doctor only to be told “It says on your chart that you're fucked up. Ah, you talk like a fag, and your shit's all retarded.” Another great throwaway gag is when Wilson enters a giant future Costco and is greeted by a bored fat man saying “Welcome to Costco, I love you.” Even little things in the background, like Wilson's wanted poster that reads “Wanted: for being a dick” make this a great re-watchable film.
The film skirts a fine line between making fun of stupid entertainment and supplying stupid entertainment but Judge makes it work (much like his work on Beavis and Butthead) and you've got to admire him for committing to his vision. Apparently the film was buried by Fox after some poor test screenings – and I'm guessing it's very short running time means a lot was cut out. It's probably likely that they were less impressed that Judge also does a quick Fox News skit where the news presenters are a topless wrestler and a woman in a basque.
I think anyone who is a fan of Futurama will get a kick out of this film. Like that show, the fun is seeing where the future is heading. Also, anyone who's watched Office Space (which admittedly is a slightly superior film) will enjoy this film.