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‘Beavis and Butt-Head Do the Universe’ rules, heh heh

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I’m on the record as considering myself a teenaged boy at heart in many ways. Even as I careen through middle age, I remain enamored of the lowbrow humor that tickled my fancy during my high school days. And I maintain real affection for the cultural content that delivered said lowbrow humor to me back then.

So you can imagine my delight upon learning that Beavis and Butt-Head were coming back.

Filmmaker/animator Mike Judge has created some wonderful work over the years – long-running animated series like “King of the Hill” and weirdly funny (and occasionally shockingly predictive) films like “Office Space” and “Idiocracy.” But as far as I’m concerned, nothing tops “Beavis and Butt-Head.”

The animated show – an MTV staple back when that actually meant something – featuring two moronic metalheads alternating between commenting on music videos and getting up to idiotic nonsense was exactly the kind of hilarious stupidity that teenaged me wanted. Call me unsophisticated if you like, but I was there for it.

And I am here for “Beavis and Butt-Head Do the Universe.”

This latest iteration of the two giggling idiots – now streaming on Paramount+ – sees them brought into the modern world, unleashing their own brand of oblivious selfishness and primal desire onto a society far different than the one they never really understood in the first place. Dudes like these two were already on the verge of anachronistic in their heyday – how could they possibly be translated into our current place?

Time travel, of course!

We start in 1998. Beavis and Butt-Head (both voiced by Mike Judge) are at the Highland High Science Fair, engaged in their usual level of enlightened discourse. To wit: Butt-Head is repeatedly kicking Beavis in the groin. A series of unfortunate events leads to them being responsible for burning the entire science fair to the ground.

A misguided judge, believing the two to be a product of a failed system, opts to send them to Space Camp in an effort to set them on the right track. There, the duo’s usual sexually obsessed idiocy leads them to inadvertently be selected to go on an actual space mission to investigate a possible black hole (don’t think too hard, just go with it). They accept when they manage to interpret Mission Commander Serena Ryan’s (Andrea Savage) request as an invitation to, as they put it repeatedly, “score.”

It is, as you might imagine, an unmitigated disaster. Almost immediately, Beavis and Butt-Head place the entire mission in danger, resulting in the two unceremoniously flung into space, where they are eventually sucked into the aforementioned black hole and disappear.

And in 2022, they return.

Dropped from the sky onto a Galveston beach, they are of course utterly unaware of their situation and surroundings and have no grasp on how anything works. Hell, they don’t even understand how anything is different, even though alternate versions of themselves – Smart Beavis and Smart Butt-Head – try to explain the situation. Basically, they have a limited time to enter a space-time portal and stop the destruction of the multiverse.

However, our heroes are only concerned with completing their previous mission – their mission to score.

Serena is now the Governor of Texas, running for reelection. When she learns of their return, she decides that she must have them killed in order to prevent anyone from uncovering the truth about that long-ago space debacle. Meanwhile, agents from the Pentagon are also tracking them, trying to determine if they are alien invaders of some kind.

And so, Beavis and Butt-Head meander around, seeking in their stupid and aimless way to track down Serena, aided only by a smartphone whose workings they absolutely do not understand. Many hijinks ensue. Will these two imbeciles be able to save the multiverse? And more importantly – will they score?

You can probably guess the answers.

This movie is stupid and juvenile … and I absolutely loved it. “Beavis and Butt-Head Do the Universe” is a throwback, a nostalgia trip back to the days when there were few things I found funnier than the word “fartknocker.” It is crude and dumb in all the best ways. For those of a particular age, it will undoubtedly prove hilarious. For the rest, well … I don’t know what to tell you.

Judge has always had a gift for satirizing the extremities of culture, popular or otherwise. The original TV show both skewered and celebrated a particular brand of hard rock dimwit that doesn’t really exist anymore, largely replaced by the edgelords of the internet. By dropping them back into a world that has moved on from them, we get to keep the original inanity while also reflecting on the ways in which that world has changed.

Now, I recognize that I’m implying a level of sophistication here. And yes, it’s there – it’s just buried deep beneath the groin-kicking, nacho-gorging simple-mindedness in which I unabashedly still delight as an ostensibly grown adult man.

The voice cast is solid. Judge does most of the heavy lifting, of course, but there’s good work elsewhere. Savage is strong, and the rest of the supporting cast features a ton of familiar names, many of whom having previously worked with Judge. Nat Faxon, Stephen Root, Gary Cole, Tig Notaro, Martin Starr – all clearly having a great time.

I’ll concede that it’s a bit inconsistent visually; our leads have the same squiggly look that they’ve always had, but the rest of the characters look just a bit off, likely the product of production studio Titmouse’s in-house style. Still, you’re not here for the stunning visual beauty of a Pixar film – you’re here for the fart jokes.

I’m genuinely not sure how “Beavis and Butt-Head Do the Universe” will work for most of today’s audiences; it is so much a product of its time (and also incredibly dumb). But for those of us who fall into the relatively narrow window that matches up with the original show’s heyday, all I can say is:

Heh heh, this movie rules. It rules!

[4 out of 5]

Last modified on Tuesday, 28 June 2022 11:31

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