Hollywood Gothique
Film Reviews

Idiocracy DVD review

IDIOCRACY was easily the most unfairly neglected film of last year – an amusing sci-fi comedy about a future world inhaibited by people whose intellectual calibre matches that of Beavis and Butt-head (no coincidence, considering that the film was written and directed by B&B creatore Mike Judge). The film bears a 2005 copyright, yet it was not released until 2006 – when it was dumped without promotion (let alone fanfare) and only a handful of people were even aware that the movie was out at all.

Once upon a time, a film that received this kind of treatment would become a “lost” movie, and you’d be lucky to catch it on late-night TV years later, if at all. Now thanks to DVD and other home video, neglected movies don’t die; they just come back to haunt you.

Unfortunately, 20th Century Fox’s initial DVD release of IDIOCRACY (ASIN: B0007VHOG) is a bit of a disappointment. Sure, it’s nice to have the film preserved in a format that lets you show it to your friends who have never even heard of it. But there is little in the way of bonus materail to make the disc truly special.

The film is presented the film in widescreen with English (Dolby Digital 5.1) and Spanish (Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround) audio tracks, plus English, Spanish, and French subtitles. (Through some kind of glitch, the DVD also seems to offer a fourth subtitle option, also listed as Spanish on screen, but no subtitles appear when this option is selected.) The amusing DVD menu recreates the look of a television screen shown in the film: several garish advertisements flash around the periphery of the screen while a clip of “Ow my Balls!” plays in the center. Unfortunately, the confusing jumble of images makes it difficult to navigate the menu options, which consist of Play, Scene Selection (with 20 chapter stops), Language Selection, and Special Features (some of the words are deliberately misspelled, suggesting the stupidity of the film’s future world).

The Special Features consist of five deleted scenes, none of them significant. The first consist of a bit more footage from the baby-making montage near the film’s beginning (which depicts stupid people out-breeding intelligent people, leading to the dumbing down of the world’s I.Q.). The next two are depict the Joe’s girlfriend (who is not seen in the final cut) as she gives up waiting on him after he disappears for a year as part of the army hibernation experiment. The fourth features Maya Rudolph who has trouble finding the “Museum of Art” in the future (run the last two words together and you’ll get the joke). And the last scene is actually a longer version of a sequence in the film, with Joe looking out a White House window.

None of the footage significantly impacts the film, nor do the missing scenes suggest any major re-editing of the film (which I had expected, based on the long delay between the film’s shoot and its theatrical release, not to mention the multiple editors in listed in the credits).

Unfortunately, there are no other bonus features, in particular no behind-the-scenes featurettes that explain Fox’s handling of the theatrical release, dumping the film with no promotional effort whatsoever. I guess I didn’t expect Fox and Judge to air their dirty laundry in public, but neglecting this aspect of the film’s history is like trying to ignore the proverbial elephant in the room.

Hopefully, in a few years time, everyone involved will be objective enough to sit down and tell the true behind-the-scenes story of what went wrong with the release of this film – a high-concept comedy that might not have been destined to be a blockbuster but which surely could have found some kind of cult audience of given half a chance.