Dir: Mike Judge
Star: Luke Wilson, Maya Rudolph, Dax Shepard, David Herman
Unfairly buried on its theatrical release by a studio which clearly saw the finished product and ran, shrieking in terror, Joe Bowers (Wilson) takes part in a military experiment on hibernation, which goes wrong – it’s only supposed to last a year, but ends up sending him under for 500 years. When he wakes up, humanity has become utterly dumbed-down, and from being an average guy, he’s now the smartest man on the planet. However, he now sounds “pompous and faggy” to the inhabitants of this stupid world, and ends up a fugitive – at least until a prison IQ test alerts the president to his existence, and Joe is tasked with fixing all the world’s problems. This week. However, when he can’t end world hunger overnight – the problem being that they now water plants with a sports-drink (because “it’s got electrolytes”) – he’s condemned to death on Monday Night Rehab.
Subtle? No. But in its brutal sledgehammering of modern culture and its pandering to the lowest common denominator, more than enough its the mark. Costco is now a vast, sprawling megalopolis, Starbucks has diversified into sexual services, and the most popular TV show is called, Ow, My Balls, and is exactly what it sounds like. Like the best satire, when this works, it does so by taking current trends and projecting them to ludicrous extremes, yet retains a sense of plausibility. When it does that, it’s great, with a painfully accurate edge and anti-corporate angle, much the same as Judge brought to his other works, However, the film – possibly due to studio intervention – suffers from some painfully obvious narration, and there’s also a secondary character (Rudolph), whose purpose entirely escapes me. On the whole, however, this is a pleasingly vicious swipe, and it’s nice to see Hollywood biting the hand that feeds it.