(director/writer: Mike Judge; screenwriter: story by Mike Judge/Etan Cohen; cinematographer: Tim Suhrstedt; editor: David Rennie; music: Theodore Shapiro; cast: Luke Wilson (Joe Bauers), Maya Rudolph (Rita), Dax Shepard (Frito), Terry Alan Crews (President Camacho), David Herman (Secretary of State), Anthony “Critic” Campos (Secretary of Defense), Mike McCafferty (Officer Collins), Eli Muñoz (Horny Guy), Justin Long (Dr Lexus),Earl Mann (Narrator); Runtime: 84; MPAA Rating: R; producers: Mike Judge/ Elysa Koplovitz; Twentieth Century Fox; 2006)
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
A dumb sci- fi comedy attacking American consumerism, its culture and the people for being so dumb. It’s smugly directed by Mike Judge (“Office Space”/”Extract”), making the viewer feel more pained by it than enlightened or amused. Judge is noted as the creator and the voice of the two lead characters in MTV’s subversive animated series Beavis and Butt-Head (1993-7). The pic flopped at the box-office. Using American society as a model for the world, all it can come up with is a dull-witted satire without an edge. The crappy film is a one joke movie on dumbness, one that hardly gets any laughs even though it’s filled with sight gags, laughable buffoonish characters and strained set pieces. It’s loudly co-written by Judge and Etan Cohen, from a Judge story.
This crude futuristic sci-fi film starts out showing an Army experiment in suspended animation in 2005 being put together. Two subjects are chosen. One of the subjects is the lazy Army librarian, the bland Pvt. Joe Bauers (Luke Wilson), viewed as an average guy. Since he’s in the army, he’s forced to participate in this mission as his next assignment. The other subject chosen under nefarious circumstances is a Black prostitute named Rita (Maya Rudolph), who is running away from her pimp over money issues. The two subjects are preserved by being cryogenically frozen for a year in a time capsule. But when the officer (Mike McCafferty) who created this project and runs it, is arrested on prostitution charges in a raid, the army forgets about the experiment.
Because of the abandonment, the subjects wake up 500 years later in 2505, and find the country is filled with only dumb people, there’s a dust bowl and garbage is piled up in the streets. The reason given for all the dummies is that intelligent families stopped having children, whereby dumb families raised big families of dumb children. Now, over many years, there are only dumb people around. When Joe gets out of his pod after it crashes into the lawyer Frito’s (Dax Shepard) apartment, while he’s watching on television The Masturbation Channel. The people Joe meets in the street think he talks pretentious like a fag and he’s mocked wherever he goes because he doesn’t talk their vulgar street slang. When Joe goes to a hospital for an examination, since the experiment broke down and there are no army personnel to check him out, he finds the hospital is disgracefully run by idiots. He gets arrested and jailed there for not having a credit tattoo and not paying his bill. Thereby he’s tattooed with the name Not Sure. After a trial he’s convicted and jailed. But he easily escapes the horrible jail by just outsmarting the dumb guards and walking out of there on his own.
On the run, he bribes his idiot lawyer Frito with promises of billions of dollars if he can take him to a time capsule located in a Costco. Meanwhile Rita makes herself at home making money as a prostitute. When President Camacho (Terry Alan Crews) learns Joe scored the highest in the prison IQ test and he’s declared the smartest man in America, he’s recaptured and hired as the president’s adviser. The country can’t grow crops because it doesn’t use water on its fields but a private company’s energy drink. When Joe advises the use of water instead to stop the dust bowl, the people revolt because they lose their jobs at the private firm (half the country works for the company). Joe then must be Rehabilitated and he’s put in the ring with a terminator gladiator and is about to be eliminated with a flame-throwing gun when Rita returns with photos of crops growing. The result is a happy ending.
The jokes and plot were sophomoric, the acting was incredibly bad and the satire never had much of a bite. The idea was the viewer was to feel so superior laughing at the stupid jokes aimed at the dummies. But it never quite materialized as expected by the filmmaker, as the audiences thought the joke was on them and the filmmaker was laughing at them for being the dummies. It got a slightly better reception on DVD by the newcomers to the film, but never reached a cult status.
REVIEWED ON 11/15/2020 GRADE: D