It’s been a common refrain throughout this unending election cycle, but it’s true: Idiocracy feels less outlandish now than it did 10 years ago.
Mike Judge’s prescient comedy could practically double as a documentary at this point, a sentiment affirmed by co-screenwriter Etan Cohen himself earlier this year. As such, last night’s anniversary screening at the Aero felt inevitable if not necessary — a way of reminding ourselves that, even if things are spiraling downward, there might at least be some laughs along the way.
Judge, Maya Rudolph and President Dwayne Elizondo Mountain Dew Herbert Camacho himself (aka Terry Crews) were on hand for a postscreening Q&A, which was live-streamed after the film played at dozens of other theaters across the country. (Fittingly, all of this went down at the same time as the vice presidential debate.)
All but unseen at the time of its initial release in 2006 — Fox gave it the most perfunctory and halfhearted of theatrical runs, for reasons that still remain unclear — Idiocracy has attained cult-classic status in the decade since. That’s never been truer than in the last year or so, as its relevance has become ever more pointed. Judge, et al., were too polite and nonpartisan to say it loud, but let’s be real: This screening would never have taken place were Donald Trump not a month away from potentially becoming president of the United States.
“George W. Bush was president when we made this movie,” said Rudolph, “which was funny enough.” This was one of the most overtly political comments made onstage all night, as nearly every question (several of which came from Twitter) focused on the film itself. “I like that they think we know what to do” was Rudolph’s response to the question of how we might prevent the film’s bleak vision of the future from materializing; turns out the filmmakers were being optimistic by setting Idiocracy a full 500 years in the future.
As exaggerated as that vision might be, it could have been even more so. Judge revealed that one scene he shot but didn’t make it into the final film involved a wrestling match between grapplers dressed as Jesus and Satan; at one point, the former’s manager apparently breaks a folding chair on Satan’s back. Also filmed: a trip to the Museum of Farts. Even funnier is a show-within-a-movie that would have been explored alongside Ow! My Balls called Single Entendre. (“I’m not above any of the future people,” Judge said as he laughed at the very idea of this.) The title alone — and the instantly obvious nature of the would-be show — provoked some of the strongest laughter of the entire night, as did the revelation that Judge initially conceived of the movie (which he wanted to call 3001) while witnessing two women repeatedly call each other “bitch” at Disneyland as their young children sat in their strollers. “Thank you to Disneyland,” he added.
Asked about the possibility of a sequel or prequel, Judge said the idea of an animated series has been brought up and might actually happen. “I don’t know why I can’t make a movie that’s a hit when it comes out,” he added, somewhat sadly, on this subject: Office Space has likewise grown in stature since its modest theatrical release.
Like Rudolph, Crews never actually said Trump’s name out loud. Asked about what it is that makes Camacho — a machine gun–toting former porn star who now holds the highest office in the land — oddly likable, his response still felt pointed: “He’s willing to humble himself and say that there was another man smarter than he was.”
That might sound like a low bar to clear, but in our current political climate, it would at least be a start.