DVD Review: Idiocracy

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Just as Children of Men hits the big screen, revealing a future tale in which humankind has lost reproductive capability and faces extinction, the DVD of Idiocracy delivers to the small screen a futuristic story in which the human population has been dumbed down due to the intelligentsia’s intentional deference of child bearing (until it’s too late) while boorish intellectually-deficient folk breed like bunnies.

The year is 2505. Into the current milieu, a society run by idiots, come a man (Luke Wilson) and woman who had, as test cases some 500 years earlier, been put into drug-induced hibernation and forgotten. They were supposed to be frozen in time for several years, not five centuries. And, when they’re released from their storage boxes by a mountain (literally, a mountain) of garbage that avalanches into the vault were they’d been hidden, they greet the whole new world of Idiocracy.The pair had been of just about average intelligence back in their day. But in 2505’s dumbed down population, they stand out as geniuses, and they’re called upon to solve all of this dysfunctional and failing future society’s shortcomings– by, for example, watering arid patches of land so crops will grow, and applying other simple solutions and commonplace skills that have been lost to the boobs who do nothing but watch the tube all day.

Invented by Mike Judge, the story’s premise is clever and the plot unfolds with amusing quirkiness. We see a future America run by corporations without regard for the population’s wellbeing– the FDA has been bought and is run by a company that feeds the population with a drink resembling Gatorade and there are other examples of misconduct by other thinly disguised brands and product that are popular among boobs who watch the tube today.

Idiocracy’s an entertaining spoof that’s also a cautionary tale. The premise isn’t very far removed from reality– just think about the most rapidly expanding segments of the population, and about economic and political influence exerted by corporations that have, as their primary goal, the accrual of profit rather than the health and wellbeing of consumers of their products.

All of which points to an essential question: why did Fox dump this film? Okay, so it’s not a classic masterpiece, nor is it populist Oscars fodder. But it deserved more than it’s 2006 release without supportive marketing. It was in and out of theaters in a flash. But it‘s very worth seeing– so thank goodness for the DVD.

Jennifer Merin

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Jennifer Merin

Jennifer Merin is the Film Critic for Womens eNews and contributes the CINEMA CITIZEN blog for and is managing editor for Women on Film, the online magazine of the Alliance of Women Film Journalists, of which she is President. She has served as a regular critic and film-related interviewer for The New York Press and About.com. She has written about entertainment for USA Today, The L.A. Times, US Magazine, Ms. Magazine, Endless Vacation Magazine, Daily News, New York Post, SoHo News and other publications. After receiving her MFA from Tisch School of the Arts (Grad Acting), Jennifer performed at the O'Neill Theater Center's Playwrights Conference, Long Wharf Theater, American Place Theatre and LaMamma, where she worked with renown Japanese director, Shuji Terayama. She subsequently joined Terayama's theater company in Tokyo, where she also acted in films. Her journalism career began when she was asked to write about Terayama for The Drama Review. She became a regular contributor to the Christian Science Monitor after writing an article about Marketta Kimbrell's Theater For The Forgotten, with which she was performing at the time. She was an O'Neill Theater Center National Critics' Institute Fellow, and then became the institute's Coordinator. While teaching at the Universities of Wisconsin and Rhode Island, she wrote "A Directory of Festivals of Theater, Dance and Folklore Around the World," published by the International Theater Institute. Denmark's Odin Teatret's director, Eugenio Barba, wrote his manifesto in the form of a letter to "Dear Jennifer Merin," which has been published around the world, in languages as diverse as Farsi and Romanian. Jennifer's culturally-oriented travel column began in the LA Times in 1984, then moved to The Associated Press, LA Times Syndicate, Tribune Media, Creators Syndicate and (currently) Arcamax Publishing. She's been news writer/editor for ABC Radio Networks, on-air reporter for NBC, CBS Radio and, currently, for Westwood One's America In the Morning. She is a member of the Critics Choice Association in the Film, Documentary and TV branches and a voting member of the Black Reel Awards. For her AWFJ archive, type "Jennifer Merin" in the Search Box (upper right corner of screen).