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part of a small rebellion | by maryann johanson

question of the day: So, what happened to Mike Judge?

Last week, over at Film.com, I wrote a piece pondering the weird fate of Mike Judge, that his movies end up being brilliant and being dismissed, only to end up as cult favorites of subversion and sedition on DVD. I dismissed out of hand the possibility that Extract, his new film, would be anything other than brilliant — this was before I saw the film; I was mostly concerned with the either/or of “Will it be brilliant and embraced by audiences?” or “Will it be brilliant and dismissed… again?”

Turns out now, the film pretty much sucks. I was deeply disappointed by it, and I might have been harder on the film if it had been from another filmmaker — I think I can Judge some benefit of the doubt that perhaps he might not deserve here. And I suspect that I may not be alone in that kind of reaction: though the film is 62 percent Fresh at Rotten Tomatoes, even some of the positive reviews there are decidedly mixed.
We probably shouldn’t take much from the fact that the film debuted way down at No. 10 for the four-day weekend (that may shift a little when the final numbers come in later today), since Judge’s movies have never been blockbusters.

So, what happened to Mike Judge? Did he try to go more mainstream with Extract, and utterly failed? Did his idea of subversion change to such a degree that he’s neither funny nor subversive anymore? What the hell?

(If you have a suggestion for a QOTD, feel free to email me. Responses to this QOTD sent by email will be ignored; please post your responses here.)

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  • Lacks Daria / Beavis / Butthead.

  • While it’s entirely possible he simply missed the mark this time out, part of me suspects Judge is just getting fatigued from fighting the system.

    From all accounts, his time doing ‘Beavis & Butthead’ was a daily struggle with the MTV execs. And the way ‘Idiocracy’ is edited suggests there was a good deal of butchery after the fact (especially in those scenes where they have the dialogue fade out and voiceover fade in while the characters’ lips keep moving). Did Starbucks unwisely give Judge free reign to use their name and logo, hoping to cash in on the hipster cred of ‘Office Space’, only to raise an uproar when Judge portrayed them as selling handjobs under the counter? Is that, and his similar treatment of Costco and Fuddruckers, why the movie only screened for one weekend here in Chicago?

    If indeed ‘Idiocracy’ landed Judge in hot water, I could see him selling out this time around, to avoid a fight and/or get back in the studio’s good graces. But, again, we won’t know the answer until the tell-all autobiography comes out 20-30 years from now.

  • joe

    He was never that great to begin with, and his movies are horribly overrated?

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