The Set of 400: #115 – My Favorite Dystopia, Brought to You By Carl’s Jr.

Today! Because #1: We’ve got this guy Not Sure. #2: He’s got a higher IQ than any man alive and #3: He’s going to fix everything –

Idiocracy (2006)

Directed by Mike Judge (x2)

Starring Luke Wilson (x2), Maya Rudolph, Dax Shepard, Terry Crews, David Herman (x3), Anthony Campos, Justin Long (x4), Stephen Root (x5), Thomas Haden Church (x2), Andrew Wilson (x2), Greg Pitts (x2), Kevin Klee, Brad ‘Scarface’ Jordan, Brendan Hill, Sara Rue

I wish I had been including it all along, because I’m curious where Idiocracy would rank in terms of box office on this list. #399, maybe? #307 The Return of Captain Invincible had virtually no release whatsoever, so that’s probably last, but this is damn close. Completely abandoned by Fox in its often delayed release, Idiocracy only ran on 130 screens for about two weeks, grossing $444,000 per the Mojo. Test screenings were apparently bad, plus they were nervous about the film taking shots at many existing brands – Starbucks, Fox News, Fuddruckers, Costco, and Carl’s Jr. most notably. Fox claimed they didn’t know how to market it – a claim also made seven years earlier when they managed to flop Judge’s other classic, Office Space. So Judge took his next film, Extract, to Miramax – where it also didn’t make money. Ah well!

The world was not ready for this movie

I’ll admit, as much as I love Idiocracy, it’s a better idea for a movie than a movie itself. What this probably should’ve been is a TV show – the joy you get from the movie is seeing how the future has self-destructed due to mass stupidity, not really from the plot. Luke Wilson’s Joe and Maya Rudolph’s Rita waking up in the future and their hunt for a time machine is pretty secondary to the hilarious details of a world gone dumb. And maybe it would’ve had a chance at a future life – maybe we could’ve seen Rita’s future showdown with Upgrayedd in Idiocracy 2! – had it literally made any money at the box office at all. It’s DVD rentals were allegedly twenty times its theatrical gross! Wasn’t that enough?

2006 was a little late for the real heyday of my relationship mix CD movie quotes, but even though we don’t watch it a ton, Idiocracy is a frequent staple of our conversations. “I don’t really think we have time for a handjob, Joe.” “I like money.” “Welcome to Costco, I love you.” “He interrupted me while I was watching Ow! My Balls!” That last one, I’ll admit, is a little less relevant to the day-to-day.

And yes, as much of a second life as this movie had in the decade after its release, it really reentered the public consciousness in 2016. Seriously, just Google “Idiocracy Trump” and enjoy the mountains of articles written then and since, comparing the two. You might initially react “That’s ridiculous! We’re nowhere near that bad!” and while that’s true-ish, remember that even Terry Crews’ wrestler-turned-president Dwayne Elizondo Mountain Dew Herbert Camacho was capable of recognizing Not Sure as the smartest man alive, and letting him fix things. Our reality show host turned president (Jesus, he’s not still president in March of 2020, is he?) has been famously internet-diagnosed with the Dunning-Kruger effect – not exactly a disease but still a significant brain disorder where fucking idiots believe themselves to be vastly more capable and intelligent than they actually are. America! We did this!

Well, Illinois tried, anyway. Eat shit, Wisconsin. Pennsylvania, you’re not excused, either.

But oh man, how do you choose a movie MVP from this terrific group of characters? I was tempted to go with Scarface’s Upgrayedd (he of the Double Dose of incarceration), but then remembered Justin Long’s terrific future doctor (“Your shit’s all fucked up”) and David Herman’s Secretary of State (“I know, let’s put toilet water on it.”) before landing on the correct option – Luke Wilson’s brother Andrew as the rehabilitation master Beef Supreme.

Mike Judge joins the Two-Timer directors with #132 Office Space, and that’s it for him on the list. Beavis and Butthead Do America is still fine, but wasn’t making the cut, and Extract is also fine, but…not quite fine enough. Stephen Root pops up for the second time this week, leading to the way for the actors by joining the Five-Timers, after #117 O Brother, Where Art Thou?, Office Space, #290 Cedar Rapids, and #398 Ghost. Justin Long is next, joining the Fours thanks to #372 Walk Hard, #212 Funny People, and #232 Galaxy Quest. Spotlight!

They also dodged wrenches together in Dodgeball!

Coming tomorrow! I realize, of course, it’s no shame to be poor, but it’s not great honor either –

1 Comment

Filed under Movies

One response to “The Set of 400: #115 – My Favorite Dystopia, Brought to You By Carl’s Jr.

  1. shortgirlnation

    But … Brawndo’s got what plants crave.

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