Visioneers (Jared Drake, 2008): USA

A review by Cora Hubbert. Viewed at the AFI FIlm Festival, ArcLight Hollywood.

Monotonous office jobs are the object of sheer hatred and satirical comedy in movies and on TV.  Shows like The Office make our jobs look exciting and our bosses seem like normal people.  I have never had the misfortune of working in a cubicle or for any corporation, but I sincerely sympathize with those who have. Visioneers takes this situation to the extreme, showing the routine of “Tunts,” “Goobs,” and “Boots,” who all work for the Jeffers Corp. the “largest and most profitable corporation in the history of mankind.” Sounds horrible, doesn’t it?  The Jeffers Corp. seeks to control the universe and convert the entire population into artificially happy robots who are always productive.  In their first ever feature length film, Brothers Branden and Jared Drake (Brandon writes and Jared directs)  create a  surreal dystopia centered around this maddening corporation, whose employees have to endure such things as hearing an inescapable recording every sixty seconds dictating how many minutes are left until the weekend. This movie follows the journey of one courageous individual who knows that there must be something else to life than his 9-5 job, his self-improvement addicted wife, and his large house and boat.

George Washington Winsterhammerman (Zach Galifinakis) is the hero of our tale.  He is a good employee of the Jeffers Corp., a level three Tunt who supervises his pod dutifully.  Then one day, George and his co-workers are informed of their peer’s demise from explosion.  New reports have been talking more and more about the growing number of casualties, people exploding from stress.  One of the first signs of impending explosion, one report warns, is the occurrence of dreams. If you are experiencing dreams, the employees are told, you must immediately go to the doctor to receive treatment. George becomes worried, because recently he has been having frequent dreams about his ancestor George Washington the First.  George is generally unhappy, but feels he shouldn’t be because he has everything that is supposed to make him content- a beautiful wife, a child, a large house and boat.  Nevertheless, the one small happiness George experiences each day are his short communications with Charisma, a faceless individual who supervises George at the corporation. As the epidemic worsens, and George is unable to rid himself of his dreams, he begins to question the world in which he lives.

The story delivers the common message to live your life with passion, not be tied down by materialism and consumerism, etc., but does so in an unprecedented way that is really funny.  Little things are sprinkled throughout the movie to enhance this made-up world’s strangeness… things like the pronunciation of the word “chaos,” so that is sounds like it is spelled rather than like the correct “kaos,” or the fact that the Jeffer’s Corp. logo is phallic and people salute each other by flipping the bird and saying “Jeffer’s morning,” or “Jeffer’s day to you sir.”  Basically, the Drake brothers did an awesome job in their debut film. They fabricated a totally weird oddball world for us to ogle, and then realize how many people in the world actually live this way. That maybe we are living this way, working for the Jeffer’s Corp.  For the few people who desperately need a wake up call to life and feeling, this movie would serve brilliantly.  For the rest of us, it is just a bundle of laughs.

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