You know what you're going to get from most movies set in a dystopian future. Whether it's Blade Runner or Brazil, Minority Report or Children of Men, the outlook is always grim: Unhappy people populate a world burdened by crime and fear -- it's usually raining, too. We've become so conditioned to expect that sort of cinematic nightmare scenario that, as a result, Idiocracy's bold, contrarian approach feels all the more disturbing. Breaking company with the Gloomy Gus visions offered elsewhere, director Mike Judge's 2006 comedy posits something far scarier: 500 years from now, we'll all be fat and moronic -- and we'll be completely happy about it. The film is set into motion when regular-guy Army officer Joe (Luke Wilson) volunteers for a government-run hibernation experiment. But the test goes awry, and Joe wakes up in the 26th century to discover that Americans have been thoroughly conquered by dumbed-down entertainment and advertising run amok -- not that any of them are bright enough to realize it, mind you. Dumped into a handful of theaters without much fanfare at the time of its release, Idiocracyimmediately became a cult sensation, inspiring praise for its upsetting prescience about our stupid future selves. Judge's conceit is so shockingly brilliant that it helps obscure (somewhat) the film's admittedly shoddy execution. But Idiocracyis one of those rare cases where a movie doesn't have to be all that great to be alarmingly right in all the ways that matter.
Sat., Nov. 21, 11:59 p.m., 2009