Finally, everyone has a chance to see Mike Judge's film Idiocracy, like it or not, since it's being released on DVD today. To help you decide, Amazon has posted a trailer for the film. Yes, that's right, an actual trailer! I have no idea if this was whipped up especially for the DVD release, or if it was one of the trailers that Fox allegedly created when they were trying to figure out how to market this movie. (As we know, they finally decided not to market it at all.)
The trailer is very odd if you've seen the movie, and I think it sells the comedy aspects of the film poorly. Maya Rudolph isn't in the trailer at all, despite being a co-star, and Dax Shepherd is barely visible as well. It is all about Luke Wilson. Although the trailer does reveal the plot about Wilson's character being the smartest person alive when he is sent to the future, it does not show just how stupid the future U.S. citizens are. And of course it contains none of the riffs on large corporations, which are often the funniest part of the movie. Finally, the trailer simply isn't cut very well -- maybe it's because the trailer editors had to cut around a lot of language that was considered inappropriate for an Amazon trailer (all of that "fag" and "tard" business), but there are abrupt cuts made in mid-dialogue. I'm not sure (heh, "not sure") what the target audience is supposed to be for the trailer, but that may illustrate the whole marketing problem for the film, right there.
By the way, Slackerwood now has categories, and I set one up especially for Idiocracy -- so if you want to read all the coverage posted to the site about this film, just click the little "Idiocracy" link next to the entry byline. I also wrote a column summarizing the situation for Cinematical a couple of months ago. I feel like Bilge Ebiri (at ScreenGrab, Nerve's film blog) and I have covered the hell out of this movie in the past four months, and I hope someday we are rewarded by getting to find out exactly what the hell happened ... from Mike Judge.
In the meantime, yes, I am buying the Idiocracy DVD -- although at nearly $20 on Amazon, it's pretty damn pricey for something the studio is trying to dump. The only special features are some deleted scenes, although I don't care much about special features myself. However, I would have loved seeing some of the other trailers Fox put together that were ultimately rejected. [Trailer link found via Movie Marketing Madness.]
Boy, have I been neglecting poor Slackerwood! I'm surprised I remembered the password to login. I've missed telling you all kinds of news: that the locally filmed feature Chalk has found distribution from Morgan Spulock's new company; that Austin filmmaker Bryan Poyser is now working for Austin Film Society as the Director of Artist Services (that reminds me of the "artist" bit in Swimming to Cambodia and I imagine Bryan issuing directions in that same tone); that Idiocracy will be released on DVD in January; and that all kinds of cool film events have been occurring in Austin, nearly all of which I've missed.
Except one. I did manage, by using up all my good luck for the next year, to get in on standby to the Butt-Numb-a-Thon last weekend. You can read the story about how I got into the event on Celluloid Eyes. But if you want all the news on the movies and the fun during BNAT, go read the feature I wrote for Cinematical. I am now hopelessly behind on any type of holiday shopping, preparation, or giftmaking (not to mention posting to various websites like this one), but it was definitely worthwhile.
Alamo on South Lamar is showing Idiocracy nightly for one more week. I've got to find time this weekend to see it again, because who knows when in the world Twentieth Century Fox will release it on DVD. I realize there are lots of films in local theaters that I haven't seen for the first time and really should prioritize over Idiocracy (The U.S. vs. John Lennon, Jesus Camp, Matador, and a bunch of other titles that I just realized have left theaters, damn it), but I'd like to see if the Mike Judge movie makes me laugh as hard as it did when we saw it on opening night.
Meanwhile, Movie City Indie has linked to an alleged pre-production copy of the Idiocracy script. The date on the cover page reads August 2003. I haven't read the whole script yet, but I tend to agree with Movie City Indie's assessment that the script is closer to the released film that you'd think. There's voice-over narration, although not as much as in the finished film. And the script is 110 pages long, which at a page a minute is rather longer than the 84-minute running time. However, there's no proof whatsoever that this script is genuine, so take it with a grain of salt.
Updated: After reading the whole script -- if it is the actual script, my guess is that there wasn't enough money in the budget for the National Fart Museum, the Liberry of Congress, or the Extreme Court. Too bad.
And ScreenGrab found an extra still. That makes three, wow!
My weekly News from Slackerwood post is now available on Cinematical. Apart from Cinematexas, it's a pretty light week for Austin film events. However, that gives some of us a needed rest before Fantastic Fest. And aGLIFF. And AFF. I've listed links to Austin's many film festivals on the site's Austin film resources page, but I'm hoping to post something a little more organized, perhaps with dates.
Speaking of AFF, after yesterday's entry about the festival's Rolling Stones raffle, I received the news that you can buy AFF film passes online now. Not to take away from the badge sales, but the AFF film pass is one of the best deals around -- only $35 for the week-long film festival.
And if you haven't read the comments on the recent entry about the Idiocracy's opening night in Austin, you might have missed the link to the video of me and my husband interviewed by Austin Movie Show after the event.
My husband and I went to Alamo Drafthouse on South Lamar last night to catch Idiocracy on its opening night. I was assigned to review the movie for Cinematical, and normally when no press screenings occur I would have seen the movie as early as possible so I could post the review as quickly as I could. However, I was curious to see what kind of crowd (if any) that the non-publicized Mike Judge film would draw, so we bought tickets for the 7:45 pm show.
You can read my review of Idiocracy on Cinematical. I have a few extra comments, particularly related to Austin.
First of all, here's a photo of the audience at Friday night's film. I wish I could send a copy to the studio behind the film, Twentieth Century Fox. With no trailer and no publicity at all, the Alamo audience was hardly sparse:
If you live in Austin, I assume you know who Mike Judge is ... you may even have spotted him around town. You know, the unassuming man who sounds a little bit like Hank Hill (for good reason). When he spoke to a class at UT I audited in the spring, he rode his bike from his office to the classroom.
What you might not know is that Mike Judge has a movie opening in theaters on Friday. He wrote and directed Idiocracy, a comedy that stars Luke Wilson, Dax Shepherd, and Maya Rudolph. Stephen Root, who had a role in Judge's Office Space and played a recurring character on King of the Hill, has a small role. Wilson plays a guy who is kept in suspended animation and revived 1,000 years later. He wasn't very smart in the twenty-first century, but in the future, everything is so dumbed-down that he is hailed as a genius.
At least, I think that's the plot. I can't tell for sure because no publicity materials are available for this film. Critics are becoming familiar with studios not having press screenings for movies that they think will be panned, but Fox hasn't released any trailers or publicity materials for Idiocracy. If you look around the Web, you will see the same two still photos everywhere for Idiocracy. No Web site exists (not even on MySpace!).
Here's a copy of one of the two photos circulating around the Web:
Normally I would crop the text on the bottom, but this time it's important. The still is from 2004, and at the time, the film was still referred to as "Untitled Mike Judge Project." It's not even a recently created publicity shot.
And when I say that Idiocracy opens Friday, I mean that it is opening in only a few cities: Austin (yay), Dallas, Houston, Atlanta, Chicago, Los Angeles, and Toronto, according to this Austin Chronicle article. Notice that New York isn't on the list. Austinites can be happy that for once, we're getting a movie first, before NYC even, but this release pattern doesn't bode well for the film. Box Office Mojo lists it as opening on only 125 screens (and I'm wondering if that isn't a generous estimate).
Is Idiocracy a bad film, or simply misunderstood by the studio for which it was made, Fox? Bear in mind that Fox wasn't crazy about Judge's previous feature, Office Space, which has since become a culty hit on DVD. (High-tech Austin adores the film.)
When Mike Judge spoke to my aforementioned UT class back in January, he was obviously disgusted with certain aspects of making movies for a studio, especially test screenings. He told some pretty funny stories about test screenings for Office Space -- the kind of funny where you feel lucky the movie got the release it did. Judge obviously wasn't happy with the way test screenings were being handled for Idiocracy, and the recommendations that Fox was making. He said he didn't want to work for a studio again -- he would prefer to raise money himself for low-budget films over which he had more control.
At least in Austin, we have the opportunity before most of the rest of you either to uncover a hidden comedy gem, or to suffer through a tedious, unfunny bomb, starting on Friday. Idiocracy opens here at the following theaters: Alamo on South Lamar, Galaxy Highland, Gateway, Tinseltown in Pflugerville, and Lakeline. I'm reviewing the movie for Cinematical, and with no screenings available beforehand, plan to go on Friday night.