Before Mike Judge struck gold with his biggest creative endeavor, King of The Hill, it’s predecessor, Beavis and Butt-Head was a hit on MTV. The show first aired on March 8th, 1993 and the two animated teenage versions of Dumb and Dumber quickly became cultural icons. According to a Rolling Stone interview, the boys are said to be about 15 years old, supported by the episode “Held Back” where the duo are shown to be in the ninth grade. The show’s edgy humor, mixed with the lead characters being teenagers lead to countless controversies, including a banned episode. Now, after eight seasons, a 1996-released feature film in Beavis and Butt-Head Do America, and an extended hiatus, the infamous doofuses are back with their second feature film. Premiering exclusively on Paramount+, Beavis and Butt-Head Do The Universe showcases the series’ signature counterculture and innocently stupid humor in the age of reboots and remakes.
Playing out like a sci-fi adventure with espionage and two idiotic teen boys in the mix, Beavis and Butt-Head Do The Universe starts out in 1998. We see the pair getting into legal trouble for the first time after they take things too far at their high school science fair. Instead of getting juvenile detention, the judge sends them to a NASA Space Camp for eight weeks to see through that they unlock their potential. One of the strengths that Beavis and Butt-Head have always held, is their miscommunication humor due to their substantial unintelligence and teenage mindset. While at the camp, the boys find the docking simulator and expertly simulate intercourse with the equipment. Considering how difficult a feat this is, Beavis and Butt-Head impress astronaut Serena Ryan (Andrea Savage), who invite them to “do it for real”, meaning to dock on a real space exploration. Of course, the duo mistakes this for getting to “score” with her, so they naturally follow though, complete with flight training and, eventually, going to space, all in the quest to “get some”. Once the mission takes flight, the two ruin everything. Two sacrifices are needed to be made, and Serena attempts to murder the duo by flinging them out to space, only to play it off like the boys volunteered. This sends the horny pair of dummies through a wormhole, spitting them out in Texas, 24 years into the future, in the year 2022. The same time and place where Serena, now the Governor of Texas, is running for a second term. Beavis and Butthead see her on a billboard and make it their mission to find her to “do it”, with what may be their opportunity to score since the time two TV producers stole their chance on the Episode “Teen Talk”. The guys carry on with their mission while ignoring an interdimensional visit from the smartest versions of themselves; a visit where the pair are informed that entering the wormhole has put the universe at jeopardy and they must go through the portal in 48 hours to save it. Serena’s mission is to kill them before word gets out that she attempted to murder them. During Beavis and Butthead’s newfound time on earth in the future, we see them take advantage of new technology and ideological concepts as teenage boys from 1998.
Beavis and Butt-Head Do the Universe shares many similarities with the 1996 film, but on a grander scale with higher stakes. In both films the duo travel with the hope that they have the chance to “score” and are mistaken as geniuses by law enforcement. Though this time they aren’t quite as lucky as their miscommunication gets them sent to prison after learning from a gender studies college class that they can get away with anything due to their white privilege. This scene is a good display of the counter-culture humor the show is known for. Beavis, always being the more sentimental one, falls in love with Serena after mishearing that her name is Siri. He falls in love with the built-in A.I. on an iPhone, not unlike Spike Jonze’s Her. Although Mike Judge doesn’t helm the film like he did Do America, the reins have been handed over to John Rice (The Angry Birds Movie 2, Rick and Morty) and Albert Calleros (American Dad, Disenchantment), his signature humor is all over. The humor is well-adapted for modern times, notably where Serena’s lieutenant Governor, Hartson (Nat Faxon) is overheard talking about the “murders she attempted” followed by a pause and uttering “in a video game”. It’s never a good thing when you can tell how the story is going to turn out early on, and while you can often see where the next scene may go, the story goes in different, unexpected directions. The environments are more detailed than ever, but the characters still retain their hand drawn feel. The characters, particularly Serena, are well-written, making it easy to invest in their arcs. The script, written by Judge, alongside animation veteran, Lew Morton (Big Mouth, Family Guy), is sharp and wastes no time.
The film does mildly suffer from some repetitiveness, though not surprising when turning an often 5-10 minute per episode show into an 86 minute film. Toward the end of the film the filmmakers throw in a few short flashbacks to what we had seen just an hour before that was not needed. Lastly, the soundtrack is less ambitious than the first film where legendary funk rock band Red Hot Chili Peppers recorded a cover to “Love Roller Coaster” for the soundtrack. The use of “Make it Rain” by Fat Joe and Lil Wayne is questionable, playing over a montage when the boys discover they can buy anything with a stolen phone connected to Apple Pay. While Beavis and Butthead aren’t listening to the song in the film, the characters have notoriously shown disgust for rap music as it is not heavy enough. Luckily there is a Black Sabbath needle drop, although it would have been nice to see the duo jam out to a new metal band or even some metal trap music.
Beavis and Butt-Head Do The Universe keeps the essence of the original show, with a fresh spin on it. If you’ve always liked Beavis and Butt-Head, you will likely enjoy this film. If you haver never liked Beavis and Butt-Head, stay far away.