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From Under A Rock: Idiocracy

November 5, 2016 | Posted by Michael Ornelas
7.8
The 411 Rating
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From Under A Rock: Idiocracy  

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Sometimes our picks are random, suiting whatever our hearts desire, and other times they are timed with something relevant (holidays or release dates of related films). This week, we’ve picked something that feels all-too relevant given the sociopolitical climate in present-day America.

You only get one first time, and for some people, it comes later than it does for others. This particular column is about documenting the first viewing of a “classic” movie or TV show determined at the discretion of Aaron Hubbard and Michael Ornelas in alternation.

Last week Aaron and Michael watched A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night. This week Michael takes Aaron out from under the proverbial rock for Idiocracy.

Idiocracy
Released: September 1st, 2006
Directed by: Mike Judge
Written by: Etan Cohen & Mike Judge
Starring:
Luke Wilson as Cpl. “Average Joe” Bauers/”Not Sure”
Maya Rudolph as Rita
Dax Shepard as Frito Pendejo
Terry Crews as President Dwayne Elizondo Mountain Dew Herbert Camacho

Michael Ornelas: I’ve become a bit pessimistic with my political views, in that I feel like the world is becoming stupider. Well that’s the entire idea behind the world in this movie, and given the parallels I feel with our upcoming election, this felt like an appropriate pick.

Aaron Hubbard: I think we’re both ready for the election season to finish and we need some laughs before it happens. This film was absurd enough that I could get lost in it for a while, which I appreciated.

World
Building the World
Michael: I feel that it’s not a stretch to say that the thing that really makes this movie work is the ways by which they go about bringing this idiotic world to life. The first act allows us to learn the circumstances surrounding Not Sure, and dive into the world all at once. And it succeeds in spades. The specifics of “dumb Earth” are hilarious: we see how the medical, social, and justice systems work as quickly as possible, and by the end of this exploration, we’re allowed to make assumptions about the rest of the world. That’s how the film really uses its premise to find humor later in the story: by subverting expectations.

Aaron: Idiocracy certainly excels at crafting a world for us, which is not something I can usually say about comedies. The reference point I kept coming back to was WALL-E, with all the trash piled up and nobody really knowing what stuff was supposed to be used for. There’s a genuine sense of discovery here that made this feel fresh for me, something I often struggle with when watching comedies.

Michael: The one thing that I find to be a big knock against this movie is its crappy visual effects…but in a way, they almost add to the idiocy. That’s not an excuse, as I’m usually pretty harsh on bad visual effects. But doesn’t the world just look a lot dumber when you see its effects?

Mountain Dew
Memorable One Note Characters
Aaron: If there is one movie science that utterly eludes my understanding; comedy. I know what makes me laugh though. Anytime characters are able to play off of each other and comment on one another in an interesting way is usually going to stick with me. This film has a lot of one-dimensional characters, but it smartly knows how to have them play off each other. “Not Sure” is a perfect straight man to comment on the insanity, but he would be boring if we didn’t have Rita and Frito to roast him from time to time.

Michael: The characters are what give the movie its flavor. The satirization is only highlighted by the fact that everyone is unapologetically one dimensional. And our hero is the most average guy possible? It’s genius. We immediately are forced to identify him as plain and dull while simultaneously relating with him because he’s the literal “everyman” character. It also gives the tiniest character arcs a significant impact because our characters are forced to overcome just how dumb they are.

Aaron: It’s pretty impressive that a movie was able to justify a situation in which using a camera to catch images of plants is an impressive feat. In any other movie this would be so simple that it would lack drama. But with Frito as the cameraman, I honestly felt like Not Sure was going to die and was surprised that they pulled it off.

Birds
Tryin’ to Blow Up the One Person That’s Tryin’ to Help Ya
Michael: This movie’s message comes in two forms: we shouldn’t bite the hand that feeds us, and we’re all headed for a miserable future full of stupid idiots. Okay, so maybe just the first one. But it’s applicable to the overall mindset of the public. We are often so resistant of change that’s in our best interest just because it complicates personal interests of the rich or powerful. We reject science in favor of “Brawndo” and its corporate interests and let it poison our society with buzzwords (like “electrolytes”) because they sound comforting and safe. It’s not the most subtle of metaphors, but it does a solid enough job making the message immensely entertaining.

Aaron: One thing I couldn’t quite shake was the idea that the film was perhaps a little too mean at times. Yes, comedy is often cruel, and yes, some people just choose to be stupid. But it feels slightly like masturbating to one’s perceived intellect without really offering solutions. Most of us are guilty of that at times (I can certainly be a pompous ass when I’m being defensive about certain issues), but I do think we could all be afford to be a little less hostile and try to educate people instead of shaming them for their stupidity. Just my (perhaps wishful) thought.

Michael: I can see that, but at the same time, a harsh roasting is kind of the only way to get the point across in this type of satire. Your point is definitely valid, but we’re also projecting stupidity 500 years into the future, and the entire plot of the film hinges on how dumb they really are. And at the end of the day, it’s not Not Sure who’s being mean — he’s just the straight man being frustrated by the unusual world. He personally never strikes me as hostile though.

Ratings:
Aaron: For what it is, Idiocracy is quite successful. It’s funny throughout, makes its point, and manages to be slightly depressing. It’s not what I would consider great, but it’s certainly good.

B

Michael: This movie isn’t Mike Judge’s greatest work, but that’s okay since he’s produced so much fantastic content. It is definitely worthy of being amongst his filmography though, and it’s because it’s funny, it visualizes an interesting idea in hilarious ways, and its message is simple, digestible, and relatable. I really enjoy this movie, but I agree with Aaron in saying it’s not an all-time great. Still: you should really check it out if you haven’t before!

B+

Aaron: I can’t say I’m familiar with Mike Judge’s filmography. Any recommendations?

Michael: Well, you’ve seen Office Space from our review in this very column, but I also highly recommend the HBO series Silicon Valley.

Are you an idiot?

Next week:

Aaron: Man, I’m excited for this pick. I didn’t think we’d get a chance to talk about a franchise this popular on this column, so I’m really glad you haven’t watched this yet.
Indy
Michael: I saw the first two and then moved, got busy, and forgot to finish the trilogy. I know there’s a fourth, and, idiotically enough, it was the first Indy movie I ever saw. So I’m excited to let this further erase that film’s hold over the Indiana Jones name in my mind.

Aaron: I honestly don’t hate Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, but The Last Crusade is the only Indiana sequel I consider to be truly great.

Which Indiana Jones film is your favorite?

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Check out our past reviews!
Mission: Impossible, They Live, Marvel’s Daredevil, The Silence of the Lambs, 12 Angry Men, The Usual Suspects, The Boondock Saints, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, The Iron Giant, Fargo, American Psycho, 28 Days Later, Frankenstein, Crank, The Godfather: Part II, American Beauty, Rocky, Alien, Spaceballs, Star Wars: Clone Wars, The Muppets Christmas Carol, Reservoir Dogs, Superman: The Movie, Lethal Weapon, Double Indemnity, Groundhog Day, The Departed, Breaking Bad, Shane, Glengarry Glen Ross, Blue Ruin, Office Space, The Batman Superman Movie: World’s Finest, Drive, Memoirs of a Geisha, Let the Right One In, Apocalypse Now, Aliens, The Incredible Hulk, A Clockwork Orange, Chicago, Seven, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Secret of the Ooze, The Room, Chinatown, Jaws, Unforgiven, RoboCop, The Legend of Korra – Book One: Air, Ghostbusters, Spider-Man 2, Prometheus, Scarface, Gattaca, Monty Python & The Holy Grail, Tucker & Dale vs. Evil, Equilibrium, City of God, The Graduate, Face/Off, Snowpiercer, The Exorcist, Hellboy, Village of the Damned, A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night, Idiocracy

VOTE FOR DOMINO’S PIZZA!!
Michael’s Spin on Things is a comedic YouTube product review parody channel in which Michael Ornelas will review ANYTHING and EVERYTHING in accordance to the criteria provided by the spin of a wheel.

In this week’s episode, Michael hits the campaign trail and encourages people to cast their vote on November 8th…for Domino’s Pizza!!

Aaron Has Another Column!
Want to know more about Doctor Strange before seeing his movie? Check out 411 Comics Showcase for a spotlight feature on the Sorcerer Supreme.

Aaron is now on Letterboxd!
Check me out here to see my star ratings for over 600 films. I review every film that I watch, and recent additions include Patton, A Nightmare On Elm Street, and one of 2016’s hidden gems, Captain Fantastic.

7.8
The final score: review Good
The 411
Idiocracy is less of a smart movie and more of a well-crafted dumb movie with a smart message. That message lands like an anvil, but subtlety is not in this film’s arsenal. We recommend it for the laughs, particularly from Terry Crews as President Dwayne Elizondo Mountain Dew Herbert Camacho. It's certainly an entertaining way to pass an hour or two.
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