An article in June’s Esquire portrays Mike Judge as somewhat cowed by the studio on the release of his next film Idiocracy - particularly because they won’t let him show the writer the trailer (apparently the first version that 20th Century Fox has got right). The writer find this particularly distressing, considering Judge created the white collar manifesto Office Space which has, in my mind, really become a classic comedy of our time - as symbolic as Modern Times was of the 30s. The treatment of Idiocracy doesn’t bother me so much from the perspective of Office Space being a rallying cry for workers, but because there hasn’t been one thing that Judge has touched that has failed comedically yet ( and commercially if you could Office Space’s success on DVD & cable). Why second guess this man?
Idiocracy has one of those hit yourself in the head premises that you wish you thought of: Luke Wilson plays an “average dumbass” who gets put into hibernation and awakes 500 years into the future where after years of the stupid people breeding and the smart people not, he’s now the smartest man on Earth. All you have to do is think of Kevin Federline to know how true the idea is. The rest of the script involves a save the world plot that is really just an excuse to explore how far the world has sunk (no one drinks water but rather “Rauncho, The Thirst Mutilator” according to this script review). It doesn’t sound as subtle or recognizable as Office Space, but the exaggerations of our culture to its logical extreme sound hysterical. (I’d love to read the script, if anyone has a copy.)
Apparently the studio was a little afraid of testing, according to Judge making trailers where instead of setting up humor, it attempts to set up wonder (“What if you could travel through time…”). Plus they’ve backed away from spending money on the special effects of a Ghostbuster-level premise ( to circumvent, director Robert Rodriguez apparently did one special effect scene for free for Judge ). But the worst is the amount of time they sat on completing the film - leaving everything in a limbo that erodes creators’ confidence and care.
Idiocracy apparently finally see release on September 1st and it’ll probably be the last time Judge deals with a studio. I’ve read postings that the next films he does will be self-financed. So much the better, more control and less doubt are what someone with this track record deserves.