January 29th, 2004
Let me just come right out and say it. The screenplay for the upcoming Mike Judge movie "3001," co-written by Judge and "King of the Hill scribe Etan Cohen, is one of the best screenplays I have ever read.
Its sometimes truculent skewering of the dumbing-down of the world, of which Judge has been partially accused of contributing to with his creations Beavis and Butthead, will no doubt become a comedy classic… if 20th Century Fox allows Judge to make the film as written on the page. So savage and scabrous does this screenplay get at times, this reviewer cannot imagine the powers of be allowing everything in the script to make it to the final cut. Which would be a shame, because what makes the screenplay so uproarious is its brutal honesty about what is happening with the world today.
The film begins with a shot of Earth from space, as an announcer explains that the evolution of man, which so long relied on the process of natural selection to keep the population strong and intelligent, faltered when the smart people stopped breeding. This evolutionary change is shown in a split screen, as one yuppie couple talks about their decision to wait for the right time to have kids, while a white trash couple get hot and heavy on a couch. The right side of the screen splits into four smaller frames, as the white trash couple starts having kids, as the yuppie couple on their left, now slightly older, talk about their prosperity. More little screens pop up on the right, as the white trash couple realizes they can get more from welfare and more food stamps if they have more children. As time moves on, the right side increases exponentially, as the white trash younglings start to grow up and start multiplying like rabbits on their own. The right side becomes so crowded, it starts to push into the left side of the screen, until the yuppie woman, who by the time she is in her fifties is widowed and childless, is forced into oblivion by the ever growing generations of dumb-asses.
With the premise set up, the main story begins. On an army base in Virginia, we are introduced to Private Joe Bowers, an average man who wants nothing more out of life than to finish the last six years of his time in the military so he can collect a nice pension. Against his protests, Joe is volunteered for a top-secret project, the Human Hibernation Project. For years, the armed forces have been training a number of excellent pilots, soldiers and officers, only to see their entire careers wasted during extended times of peace. But before the military sends their best and brightest into deep sleep, they want to test the hibernation chambers on ordinary test subjects. Thus, the most average person in the Army will be the first test subject. Joe Bowers: unmarried, childless and an only child with no living relatives to ask nosy questions if something goes wrong. Unable to find a suitable female soldier, the brass are forced out into the private sector, bringing in a young woman named Rita, who only agrees to join up in exchange for the dropping of some criminal charges and a fee paid to her pimp, Upgrayedd (with two D's for "a double dose of the pimpin'").
Naturally, things go wrong. With the head of the project is busted for running a prostitution ring, and the only other people who know about the project dying in a tragic botulism outbreak at a Veteran's Day celebration, Rita and Joe continue to hibernate unnoticed and unmissed. The passage of time is shown through time-lapse photography, as the base is closed and bulldozed to make room for a planned community. A timeline depicting intelligence is super-imposed in the background, starting at the top in the present day, but dropping steeply as time moves on. The planned community is torn down to make way for a large Fuddrucker's, which is torn down to make room for a bigger Futtbucker's, which itself it demolished and replaced with an even larger Buttrucker's.
Eventually, we dissolve onto a glorious vista at sunrise, rivaling the Swiss Alps or Grand Tetons. Quickly, as the sky gets lighter, we see this is not a beautiful mountain range at all but a disgustingly huge mountains of trash, resulting from centuries of garbage dumping without planning. One garbage dump too many causes a huge avalanche of filth to spew down into the city below. Included in this mess is the life-pod of Joe, which rides the waves of trash until it smashes through the window of an apartment building, activating the pod's de-freezing mechanics. When Joe comes to, he finds himself face to face with a Neanderthal named Dizz, who is upset that Joe has interrupted his viewing of his favorite television "Ow! My Balls!"
ANGLE ON TV:
The TV show begins: The MAIN CHARACTER, a frail, feeble looking man with a permanently worried look on his face, stands on a high-rise balcony looking out at the view.
A big, lumbering JOCK comes up from behind him, kicks him in the balls, sending him over the balcony.
In rapid succession, the Main Character falls off the balcony, lands on a high voltage wire, on his balls, gets sling-shotted off, starts falling, heading straight for a fence, lands on his balls and falls into someone's yard. A dog runs up, bites his balls, he scrambles over the high fence, falls down the other side, lands on a sawhorse, right on his balls, then finally falls to the ground. He stands up, brushes himself off, then notices something: a huge wrecking ball swinging right towards his balls. He stands there like a deer caught in the headlights, then WHAM, right in the balls. We follow him through the air, his balls straddling the wrecking ball…
Ow! My Balls!
Dizz throws Joe out through the window he came through, and this is when Joe discovers how much things have changed. Every inch of every building, every sidewalk and every street is covered with advertising, as are the clothes people wear. The phone company is run by AOL-Time-Warner-Starbucks-U.S. Government. Everyone has a bar code tattoo on their left wrist, which is used not only for identification purposes but for payments of goods and services. Water has been replaced by Rauncho, The Thirst Mutilator. And the number one movie in America is "Ass," which is nothing more than a man's naked backside filling up the movie screen, farting every ten seconds or so.
For Rita, however, things haven't changed that much. While still in a daze from waking up, she is approached by a horny guy who wants to groove her real good. Catching on quickly to the new world order, which includes local telephone calls costing $2,000, Rita is able to sucker the horny guy to pay for waiting to have sex with her.
After a series of incidents which find Joe guilty of robbing a hospital and escaping from jail, Dizz leads Joe and Rita to a local Wal-Mart the size of several football fields, where Dizz believes there is a time machine that can take the couple back to their own time. Before they can reach the time machine, the authorities catch Joe. But instead of being taken to jail, Joe is to be delivered to the White House, where President Camacho has taken a personal interest in the person who received the highest IQ test of all time, which was administered while Joe was incarcerated. The President wants Joe to become the Secretary of the Interior, to help fix all the major problems of the world. Crops have been dying, people are starving and the planet has been ravaged by dust storms. If Joe can figure out what's wrong, he will receive a full presidential pardon. Fail, and Joe will be put to death.
There are some minor problems with the script, including questions about how such a stupid society could have such advanced machinery and a wholly superfluous denouement, but Judge and Cohen have crafted an intelligent screenplay which pokes great fun at the dumbing down of our culture. One great throwaway scene involves Joe discovering what passes for the #1 film in America in the future, "A**," which features nothing more than a man's naked posterior on screen, passing gas every ten to fifteen seconds. And while most of the examples given thus far do show a certain reminiscing flair towards another Mike Judge creation, "3001" uses toilet humor wisely and effectively, making viewers wonder if this is really want they want. Satire is a hard line to walk, and while some might feel the final product becomes what it wants to mock, most should find this film to be something worth treasuring.
My rating: A-
This script, dated August 08, 2003, was written by Mike Judge and Etan Cohen. The film is set to begin principal photography in mid-April.