Idiocracy

[Amazon Link] [3.5
stars] [IMDb Link]

I'm a major fan of Office Space, Mike Judge's previous major movie. So maybe I had my hopes up too high, but Idiocracy doesn't quite make it up to that standard.

The premise is that Joe and Rita are picked for an ill-fated suspended-animation experiment, by dint of their extreme averageness. They're supposed to be awakened in a year, but they're forgotten, and instead sleep until 2505. The world of 2505 is one where the intelligence of humankind has crashed, due to comparative overbreeding of, well, the stupid. Mike Judge is not a believer in the Flynn Effect.

So the world of 2505 is dumb, loud, and crude. Worse, it teeters on the brink of survival, as people have forgotten the finer points of technology and agriculture. Joe and Rita spend most of the movie trying to find the "Time Masheen" that will take them back to their own era.

The movie is packed with merciless satire on the habits and proclivities of the unintelligent. There are throwaway sight gags galore. It's just not much more than that.


Last Modified 2012-10-21 6:43 AM EST

On The Wealth of Nations

[Amazon Link]

This book is an early entry in a series from the Atlantic Monthly/Grove Press, "Books That Changed the World". Other entries, by other authors, are devoted to Clausewitz's On War, Darwin's Origin of Species, the Bible, and the Qur'an (or, if you're a hick like me, the Koran). I will irresponsibly speculate on a bunch of books I never read, and say that none of them is as funny as this one, on Adam Smith's The Wealth of Nations.

For example, from the chapter titled "Why is The Wealth of Nations So Damn Long?":

All explanations start out brief. But pretty soon Smith gets enmeshed in clarifications, intellectually caught out, Dagwood-like, carrying his shoes up the stairs of exegesis at 3:00 a.m., expounding his head off, while that vexed and querolous spouse, the reader, stands with arms crossed and slipper tapping on the second-floor landing of comprehension.
But it's not just a laff riot, as people who've read some of the recent O'Rourke works know; he's not just one of America's funniest writers, he's also a decent thinker on serious topics. Here, P. J. wades through each section of Smith, picking up and explicating the good bits, and is suitably derisive when Smith, rarely, wanders off into tall grass. He fits The Wealth of Nations into the context of Smith's life, his other works, and the state of the world in the late 18th century.

If I had to pick a flaw in the book, it's that a few of P. J.'s witticisms are very timely. Will a crack about Britney Spears make any sense to most readers in 2017? (I hope not.)


Last Modified 2012-10-21 6:42 AM EST