Thursday, May 14, 2009

Idiocracy (2006)

Directed by Mike Judge. This is a Rip Van Winkle tale with a twist -- Joe Bauers (Luke Wilson) wakes up after a military experiment goes wrong, hundreds of years in the future to find that U.S. society and culture have not evolved, they have devolved, because far more dumb people have children than smart people. A great deal of comedy is mined from this in the half of the picture. The second half of the picture is more of a Wizard of Oz tale with a twist, as Joe tries to get home from this strange land.

It's all pretty great. This is the best kind of satire. It's very funny and spot-on because, in the flick's first ten minutes, its premise is laid out clearly and is undeniably true. All around us the brightest couples contributing the most to the economy seem to be waiting until later in life to have children, and limiting the size of their families. Meanwhile the most dysfunctional families are most likely to be the biggest, have been started earlier, and take the most from the economy. Extrapolating this over the next several hundred years, this will prove catastrophic.

This is the biggest problem facing our country. We can address problems piecemeal all we want: hunger, crime, crowded schools, crowded prisons, racial unrest, abuse, whatever you want. The problem underlying all of it is unestablished couples having lots of kids barely growing up before they pair up and do the same thing.

The most insightful moments in this movie are when Luke Wilson's character innocently offers advice to people, who sneer and accuse him of elitism. In reality, politicians never mention the core truth addressed in "Idiocracy" because they will be called elitists and lose votes.

Silence kills -- our future may not be even as promising as the one laid out in this movie. "Idiocracy" is not science fiction per se, but like a lot of futuristic films, there are holes in the logic. If everyone is so dumb, why are prices so high, growing the economy? The commercial nature of the country -- dumb as it is -- suggests the existence of an economic super-power, apparently outside the knowledge of President Camacho (Terry Crews).

We can only hope for such a thing. Otherwise, when the mythology of this film comes true the economy will have fully collapsed and all of the country will be a giant swamp.

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