Movies about stupid people are not required to be as stupid as their subjects. The disreputable sub-genre of two-morons-doing-moron-stuff comedy goes back to the beginnings of literature, but it was an especially favored mode of humor for William Shakespeare. Centuries of bone-dry study in high-school classrooms has managed to obscure the fact that some of the English language’s finest texts were originally conceived as lowbrow entertainment for the stinking groundlings. They brim with puns and other bawdy jokes, and it wasn’t unusual for Shakespeare to drop a pair of well-meaning fools into one of his tragedies to lighten the atmosphere a little bit between the various accidental murders and suicides. Rosencrantz and Guildenstern may very well be the great-great-great-great-great-grandparents of Lloyd Christmas and Harry Dunne. Idiocy was a precise tool in Shakespeare’s hands, with mindless shenanigans exposing the hypocrisies of everyday life and leading to inspired misunderstandings.
Bio-Dome ain’t Shakespeare.
Bud “Squirrel” Macintosh and Doyle “Stubbs” Johnson, the pair of dumbasses played by Pauly Shore and Stephen Baldwin in the 1996 film, are defined by their stupidity. Their rock-bottom IQs inform their every action in the film, like an invisible hand guiding them from self-created calamity to calamity. Just as Luke Wilson jumped into a shocking future ruled by dum-dums in Idiocracy, Squirrel and Stubbs emote disorientation as if they’ve just stumbled backwards from that same future. Everything they touch breaks, melts, bursts into flame, or explodes. The film joins the young men in what we may safely assume are their early 20s, and to be frank, it’s a minor miracle that they have lived that long. They are an absolute pair of boobs, but the film provides them with no metaphorical bra of support to keep them in order. Bio-Dome exults in allowing them to instead fly around every which way, haphazard and out of control. The reason that Bio-Dome is almost unwatchably awful and decidedly not Shakespeare is that it insists on celebrating Stubbs and Squirrel’s myriad follies and mirroring them, playing just as stupid as two of the most annoying characters ever committed to film.
Bio-Dome remains a baffling piece of work even today, on the 20th anniversary of its premiere to a viewing public that roundly rejected it, casting it off to languish in bargain-bin hell for the rest of eternity. A perennial contender in the battle for the title of Worst Movie Ever, Jason Bloom’s stinkburger keeps viewers engaged by posing perplexing questions through completely inexplicable details. Was that just a young Jack Black and Kyle Gass in Tenacious D’s first-ever film appearance? And why did they only play for, like, 25 seconds? Why is that oceanographer character named after Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s 1972 film The Bitter Tears Of Petra Von Kant? What is this deep-cuts art cinema allusion doing in the dumbest movie ever made? Was being in this movie the worst thing that ever happened to Patty Hearst, or just the second-worst? Do people ever approach Rose McGowan and say, “Hey, aren’t you Rose McGowan from Bio-Dome?” just to mess with her? Truly, the picture contains crappy multitudes.