Part of the charm of Beavis and Butt-head over the years is how they never acknowledge just how ignorant and unsophisticated they are. They instead think it’s something that makes them better than people who are good at school or have a musical talent. They are two horny teenage boys who have no goals in life except watching TV and possibily “scoring” with a woman some day. They’re not smart by any means, but they never see themselves as stupid. I knew people just like them but they dressed in nice preppy clothes and drove nice cars.
Mike Judge (who voices both titular characters) created the, more than 30 years ago in the MTV show Liquid TV, which was mostly a TV show of short animated vignettes unrelated by up and coming filmmakers and writers. Then, when they appeared with their own show in 1993, it was a culteral explosion. Teens and people in their early 20s loved them. And everyone else hated them. Elected officials condemned them.
In 1993, a housefire was based on a child mimicking an episode killing his younger sibling. (The person later came out and said he had never seen the show and more or less implied his mother wanted to blame someone but herself for leaving a lighter accessible for a 5-year-old to find.) Regardless, the controversy made them more popular with the MTV audiences because the “old people” hated it. We were sticking it to the Man.
One aspect that never seemed to fit their persona was their quick wit when it came to reviewing music videos. I could tell Judge and his writing staff were using some of their own criticism of these videos. But just like wondering how in Idocracy, the people could even manufacture products or use electricity well, you have to take it with a grain of salt. In a way, MTV was laughing at itself. In 1996, a movie, Beavis and Butt-head Do America was released with good reviews and made $63 million against a $12 million budget.
Not too long after the movie was released, Beavis and Butt-head went off the air in 1997 as Judge was devoting more time to King of the Hill. But four years seemed like a good time for the two. Nothing last forever and as the world changed so did Beavis and Butt-head, even though Judge said he could never see them as adults. Judge resurrected the show in 2011 for one season to have the duo also critique reality TV shows. But you could always tell it was something he was always coming back to.
Beavis and Butt-head Do The Universe picks up in 1998, a year after the show went off the air the first time. The two inadvertently start a fire at the Highland High School Science Fair. But rather than send them off to a juvenile detention hall, a judge decides that they should be awarded the intended prize of a trip to Space Camp. The actual camp is in Huntsville, Ala., but since Highland is in Texas, they go to the Johnson Space Center. And this gives them a chance to laugh about the name of Johnson.
While on a tour, they become obsessed with a demonstration of how the Endeavor space shuttle will dock with the Mir space station since it looks sexual and spend 18 hours with the controls. This attracts the attention of NASA officials who mistake their sex-obsessed minds for space exploration enthusiam. Serena Ryan (voiced by Andrea Savage), flight commander on the Endeavor mission, talks to them and asks them if they are interested in doing the docking for real. Yet, they think it means Serena will have sex with them, so they agree.
NASA trains Beavis and Butt-head for the mission in a public relations attempt. And when they are in space, let’s just say they screw up big time and find themselves stranded in space while on a space walk. But they soon find themselves sucked into a black hole where they are spit out on the beach shores of Galveston, Texas in present 2022. They soon find out that Serena is now governor of Texas and seeking re-election.
Not to give too much away, but government officials from the Pentagon are tracking them after having detected their sudden appearance. And Serena also discovers that they’re alive and feels that they will divulge something that happened on the space shuttle that could threaten her chances of election. All this is how they are having to deal with the new technology and changing world. They don’t know what a iPhone is and Beavis mistakes Siri as a nickname for Serena. They’re also met with a futuristic version of themselves who tell them they have to pass through a portal or else the universe will collapse in on itself.
However, just like Do America, Beavis and Butt-head do not fully understanding what’s happening around them nor what their futuristic selves are talking about. They are constantly nearly getting caught by both Serena and the federal government led by Agent Mattison (voiced by Gary Cole). And like the previous movie, there is a lot of humor and scenes that should make fans happy, inclduing an appearance from The Great Cornholio.
My only criticism is that some of the famous supporting characters from the show appear on briefly. Mr. Van Driessen and Principal McVickers (both voiced by Judge) are in it shortly. Stewart appears but doesn’t say anything, neither does Daria, Coach Buzzcutt and Mr. Anderson. But these are small sacrifices that’s easy to overlook. At the heart is the foolish likeability of the two main characters. Part of what people in the 1990s didn’t understand was they were too ignorant to be bad influences. Like Bill and Ted or Wayne and Garth, they’re metal heads with simple-minded goals, but it doesn’t make them bad kids.
The movie is currently streaming on Paramount-Plus and while it’ll give the feeling of nostalgia to Gen Xers and Millennials who used to watch the series, hopefully it will introduce the duo to a younger generation. So, we may one day have a trilogy of Beavis and Biutt-head movies.
What do you think? Please comment.