The Pitch: So like, in the 1990s there was this cartoon show Beavis and Butt-Head, and then they made like, a long version? Like, a movie or something? And this is like, another movie?
It’s as much of a no-brainer as that sounds; what’s even dumber is how long it took to mount (insert guttural Butt-Head laugh) a sequel to 1996’s epic Beavis and Butt-Head Do America. That movie was once the highest-grossing non-family-oriented animated movie ever in the U.S., and it’s still pretty far up there, give or take a Simpsons Movie.
Talk of a Beavis and Butt-Head Do Europe floated around for years, and the show was briefly revived on TV in 2011. But it’s taken an upcoming second revival (and the streaming-nostalgia-content rush) to jumpstart another movie, and the grandiosely titled Beavis and Butt-Head Do the Universe is both bigger and hilariously modest in scope — befitting a full-length feature film that’s nonetheless bypassing actual movie theaters.
Like The Simpsons in its fifth season, it does indeed send its dull-witted protagonists into space — and, unlike The Simpsons (as far as I know; I’m not current on the last few seasons), it also gives them multi-versal doppelgangers, smarter versions of the boys who urge them to do their part to save the universe.
In between the sci-fi embellishments, the movie has set pieces in such exotic, far-flung locales as a porta-potty and a motel room. Like a lot of the classic Beavis shorts, it’s all predicated on a misunderstanding — a steadfast and mistaken belief that these two eternally snickering, muttering, horny teenage boys must be concealing hidden depths.
The movie picks up in 1998, shortly after their show’s 1997 end: When Beavis and Butt-Head (both voiced, as ever, by creator Mike Judge) are sent to space camp in an attempt to rehabilitate their general delinquency, they are improbably recruited for a real mission. Eventually, this leads to them getting sucked into a black hole, and popping out in 2022. As in the first movie, they’re on a quest to lose their virginities (or, in the parlance of their times, to “score”), which, as before, various government officials mistake for something far more nefarious.
Are You Threatening Me?: Beavis and Butt-Head were designed to satirize good old-fashioned American teenage stupidity. Though their destructive, callous, sexist behavior isn’t exactly celebrated by their TV show or movies, Mike Judge and company do seem to understand that beneath the characters’ satirical edge is a baser sensibility capable of getting its own laughs (at least from a certain type of adolescent-boy-at-heart; guilty as charged).
In other words, we’re laughing at them and with them; if the show was too piously instructive about Beavis and Butt-Head being in the wrong, it might be insufferable. Better to just show them getting kicked in the nads as an inevitable comeuppance.