Saturday, May 05, 2007

The Dossing Times DVD Club

DVD for May: 'Idiocracy'

I worry that what follows below is too negative and then you as readers will automatically disregard ‘Idiocracy’ at the video shop but I do want to make clear that it is still a movie worth watching and of course commenting on so as to compare notes. I am always interested in how people perceive movies and what they might see in a movie that I might necessarily not. I wouldn’t go as far as saying there are layers of humour in this movie but I do think others might see jokes that I didn’t. Let me know. When writing reviews of cinema releases I don’t believe plot summaries are necessary, firstly to avoid spoilers and of course because pre-publicity and trailers tend to give away all the good stuff so that we are rarely surprised by movies anymore. With the DVD Club I feel a summary is worthwhile, to catch your interest and of course you might not remember the name but may remember the plot point when describing the DVD you are looking for to the shop assistant. Again the premise of this selection is that they will not be front and centre on the shelves.

Idiocracy tells the story of an underachieving man (Luke Wilson), selected for being an entirely average subject matter to be frozen for a year as part of a military experiment. As scientific tests tend to do, events take an unfortunate turn and he wakes up 500 years later at which stage the world has become progressively stupider and he is discovered to be the world’s most intelligent person. The world has turned into a hybrid of all the low-brow, toilet humour, ignorance and shallowness we see around us today. No level of society has escaped unscathed, from the White House down, no underground intelligence group are uncovered, our hero, nothing to write home about in the world of 2005 is the best they’ve got.

The potential is doubtless, that the film was smothered by Fox, partly because of how it lashes back at corporations and product placement, also encourages interest. Unfortunately, the film is never smart enough and flounders along for far too long achieving nothing when it could be filling the screen with jokes. This is especially fatal as the lack of pace and punchlines makes a 75-minute film drag. Elements work, TV loungers also acting as toilet bowls, replacement of water with energy drinks and TV generating to an absolute low (though I see some of the programming of the movie being only a year or so away!). The story doesn’t know what its doing though, the central group are reunited only to be separated and all pace lost again, we know nothing of the hero, his average lifestyle is given passing mention when compared to the time given to military meeting deciding to freeze him and to talk about the female characters is being generous, basically some girls turn up and are wasted.

The main talking point behind this movie is that its directed by Mike Judge, who brought us the underappreciated but ultimately very popular ‘Office Space’ and in the same vein it’s been speculated that ‘Idiocracy’ may join it as a big DVD success with a large cult following. I just don’t feel the movie has enough impact to ingrain itself into the mindset of a generation or demographic the way ‘Office Space’ has. This should line up amongst the curiosity movie that you watch to make your own mind up about, as for repeat viewings and adding to your permanent collection I am not so sure.

Best Scene: Wilson meets his fellow cabinet members in the White House and begins stringing sentences together in a way not all that unfamiliar to today’s world.

Go Further: Mike Judge is also responsible for ‘Beavis and Butthead’, who seem to provide the template for how civilisation has developed in ‘Idiocracy’

As for Luke Wilson, his best performance has to be in ‘The Royal Tennenbaums’, a truly great movie.

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