Every day, Watch This offers staff recommendations inspired by a new movie coming out that week. This week: Hyde Park On Hudson has us thinking of movies about presidential figures.
Mike Judge’s Idiocracy followed the same pattern as all his live-action films: It got a minimal release, found its fans on home video, and became a minor cult artifact. Which is no wonder, because like all his live-action films, it’s fitfully funny, occasionally hilarious, and fairly uneven. The core concept is a winner, though: As intelligent people hold off on having kids and dumber types breed indiscriminately, the average IQ plummets. This leads to a world comprising largely imbeciles, to the point where slightly below-average Army mope Luke Wilson, waking up after 500 years of suspended animation, is hailed as the smartest man alive. Much of Judge’s film focuses on just how hilariously far the human race has fallen in that time, and in particular, the extreme ends of humanity’s current visible focus on food, sex, money, increasingly vulgar entertainment, blindly servicing corporate brands and commercial products, and mocking other people’s stupidity.
Naturally, the president of future moron-America is a moron himself, but Judge singles his position out for special satirical attention: In the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is king, and in the land of the dumb, the slightly canny idiot has an edge. NFL vet Terry Crews plays the president as a smug, slick joker who knows how to handle his harem, lead his witless cabinet in making fun of people, and generally play to his audience. As a former wrestling champ and “porn superstar,” he enjoys orchestrating spectacles and doesn’t hesitate to use a machine gun and/or a spontaneous song to control a situation and stir up an audience. He also knows all about delegation: He gives Wilson a week to fix everything wrong with America, or face having his balls booted “into the roof of his smart mouth.” Judge’s view of the president as the ultimate conductor of the government’s three-ring circus provides some of the film’s best and broadest humor: Idiocracy makes it clear that the dumber people are, the more they look for leaders who are charismatic liars and showmen, willing to tell them whatever they most want to hear.
Availability: Widely available on DVD, Amazon Instant, rental services, etc.