Tag Archives: Mike Judge

Office Space (1999, Mike Judge)

Office Space is the model of efficiency. Judge never races through things, he just tells them really fast or implies them. There’s the fantastic opening montage of everyone going to work, which ought to be a clue to who is and isn’t going to be important in the film, and then things just breeze along as he establishes the ground situation.

I’ve seen the film multiple times and never remembered Ron Livingston–the lead–has a girlfriend when it starts. I also didn’t realize the girlfriend (Alexandra Wentworth) never even speaks to him onscreen.

Judge clearly cut this thing a lot and the result is one of those outstanding examples of how post production can make something shine.

The film has the perfect comedy recipe–great cast, great lines, great plotting. The film only stumbles during the end of the second act, but Judge moves it along as fast as he can, almost like he knew he was in bumpy territory.

Livingston’s great in the lead, with excellent support from David Herman and Ajay Naidu as his sidekicks. Diedrich Bader’s hilarious. All the work boobs are great–the outtakes of Gary Cole, John C. McGinley and Paul Willson must be amazing.

Jennifer Aniston sadly gets nothing to do. She’s the likable love interest. She’s good at it but so what.

Obviously, Stephen Root runs off with the picture. Or, more appropriately, shuffles off with it. He’s got a really tough role and he nails it.

Judge cooks a great comedy.

3/4★★★

CREDITS

Written and directed by Mike Judge; director of photography, Tim Suhrstedt; edited by David Rennie; music by John Frizzell; production designer, Edward T. McAvoy; produced by Daniel Rappaport, Michael Rotenberg and Judge; released by 20th Century Fox.

Starring Ron Livingston (Peter Gibbons), David Herman (Michael Bolton), Ajay Naidu (Samir Nagheenanajar), Greg Pitts (Drew), Stephen Root (Milton Waddams), Gary Cole (Bill Lumbergh), Richard Riehle (Tom Smykowski), Diedrich Bader (Lawrence), John C. McGinley (Bob Slydell), Paul Willson (Bob Porter), Todd Duffey (Brian), Orlando Jones (Steve), Joe Bays (Dom Portwood) and Jennifer Aniston (Joanna).


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Idiocracy (2006, Mike Judge)

Idiocracy has one fundamental flaw–and plenty of little ones, but the fundamental one is too glaring and too fixable–the two leads do not have a romance and the film pretends they do. Foul-mouthed prostitute Maya Rudolph all of a sudden starts talking without slang and doing sweet things. Then, at the end, there’s supposed to be some romantic connection between her and Luke Wilson, who spends the movie thinking she’s a painter (one who’s really scared of her art manager). The romantic element isn’t part of Idiocracy because it doesn’t fit with what Mike Judge is trying to do (which is to mix Sleeper with some Fight Club cynicism–with a handful of fart jokes) and so he avoids it. But in the end, when Rudolph is finally acting–Wilson acts the whole time–the mix needs to work and it doesn’t and Idiocracy goes out with a whimper. The ending is similar to a 1960s educational film reel about… moths or something. It doesn’t just stop, it crumbles away.

Wilson gives a really good comedic leading man performance in Idiocracy, except he comes off as way too smart for the guy who’s supposed to have a hundred IQ. He’s not one of Idiocracy‘s litany of problems. And the most apparent problem, the one starting from the first minute, is the narration. Idiocracy is fully narrated (lending to the educational film reel comparison) and that method, in addition to the ludicrous fade-outs, suggests there wasn’t enough story. Even if the narration and the fade-outs were in Judge’s first draft of the screenplay… there wouldn’t have been enough story in it either. Fully narrated films are either The Magnificent Ambersons or they are not. Idiocracy is not (also because the narration doesn’t make any sense… the narrator is talking to the audience in the present day, not the people who would be listening to it in the year 2700 or whatever).

Other significant problems are the special effects. Lots of futuristic movies are made cheaply and well. Idiocracy instead goes with video game level (and not state-of-the-art) CG and it looks silly. At first I thought Judge was doing a Planet of the Apes homage, which would have been funny, but he wasn’t.

Dax Shepard and Justin Long are both funny in the easiest roles in the history of cinema (idiots), but Terry Crews does a great job in the role of the best elected official (the President of America) since the Duke of New York.

The movie’s funny (I laughed every two minutes or so… good fart jokes, anti-corporate sentiment, and a general mockery of red state Americans)–and, compared to other current comedies, it’s still inexplicable why Fox hid the theatrical release–but as Judge’s follow-up to Office Space, an incredibly thoughtful, if flawed, film, it’s an abject failure.

1/4

CREDITS

Directed by Mike Judge; screenplay by Judge and Etan Cohen, from a story by Judge; director of photography, Tim Suhrstedt; edited by David Rennie; music by Theodore Shapiro; production designer, Darren Gilford; produced by Judge and Elysa Koplovitz; released by 20th Century Fox.

Starring Luke Wilson (Joe), Maya Rudolph (Rita), Dax Shepard (Frito) and Terry Crews (President Camacho).


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