Sunday, August 24, 2008

[DVD] Idiocracy (2006)

Man, I'm Smart

Mike Judge is best known for, and probably cut his teeth with his razor sharp sarcasm and wit on his Beevis and Butt-Head series. How does he perform now with live action and comedy set in a futuristic science fiction genre? Not a bad piece of entertainment for a rainy Sunday afternoon, though not exactly laugh out loud material from start to end.

The jokes here failed to go beyond the sight gags of making fun of conglomerates and fast food joints such as Carl's Jr, and I wonder how those executives take to their companies being made the butt of many jokes in the movie. Also, there seemed to be a pre-occupation with sex and money, with a number of jokes relying on the quick and the dirty to draw in the laughs. Sadly though, these fell really flat, as you could see them coming from a mile away, and unfortunately having the punch lines delivered without much impact.

However, the story though, had a lot of potential and actually set one thinking, especially in the current climate of low population figures here, and the local authorities getting into a frenzy to try and promote pro-family lifestyles, and dangling incentives to get our citizens to procreate to sustain a future. While we had this graduate-graduate pairing in hope to having intellectuals born to intellectuals, one wonders if the incentives would make any dent to these folks' ambition anyway when they work out the disincentives to having children, and the nightmare situation depicted here, is to have the dumb and dumber contribute the numbers, and well, dumb down the entire population gene pool. Scary thought eh, when natural selection goes to the dogs.

I hope I do not sound condescending here (and it's not my intent), but that forms the basis of Idiocracy, where the smart folks fail to re-populate themselves, and society in general have contributions coming from the less-intellectual because of their free loving, devil-may-care upbringing and irresponsibility. So given 500 years into the future, an average person leading an average life here, might seem as a genius to that dumbed down era. And that's exactly what happens to Joe Bauers (Luke Wilson), an average Private in the armed forces who gets "volunteered" into a top secret program of soldier-hibernation, of keeping combat fit soldiers for the future to be used for conflicts then, when there's peacetime now.

And in a comedy, you'd come to expect things go awry at a drop of a hat, and the bulk of the jokes come from being in a dumb society who speaks improperly, and where the top-rated television programme is a Jackass clone. Sight gags go into overdrive here, and props keep things looking futuristic. But alas the story moves from set piece to set piece, following Joe through from a hospital, to court room, to jail, and finally to the White House, where he's made Secretary of the Interior to try and clean up the agricultural problem, and all the while trying to get new found friend Frito (Dax Shepard) to get him to a time-machine so that he can journey back 500 years to 2005.

The less illustrious of the Wilson brothers, Luke does pull off the exasperated Mr Average role here with aplomb, but the rest of the cast seem to go over the top with their performance as idiots, and made it a little difficult to sit through stilted performances, with some incredibly banal dialogue trying to pass off as humour. Like I mentioned, it could've been genuinely funny but it didn't, but thankfully it had its premise set up nicely, and provided food for thought of a future that could have Mother Nature pull a fast and funny one on mankind.

The Code 3 DVD by 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment is presented in anamorphic widescreen format, with audio available only in 5.1 Dolby Surround English. Subtitles are available in English, Korean, Thai, Mandarin, Cantonese and Bahasa Indonesia, and scene selection is available over 20 chapters. When the disc is popped into the player, an anti-piracy video introduction gets played, which unfortunately cannot be skipped.

The only Special Features in the DVD is a set of Deleted Scenes presented in anamorphic widescreen, and removed probably because they didn't add much to the story or pace. Also, it's all polished, and not shots that were still not put into post-production. There are a total of 5 scenes here - Babies/Trashy Guy & Girl in Truck (0:11), Girlfriend #1 (0:47), Girlfriend #2 (0:27), Museum of Fart (1:05), Joe in White House looks out (0:26) - with a play all option available.

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