BEAVIS AND BUTT-HEAD DO THE UNIVERSE is directed by John Rice and Albert Calleros. It’s based on the 1990s TV series created by Mike Judge, with a voice cast that includes Judge, Gary Cole, Chi McBride, Carlos Alazraqui, Toby Huss, Phil LaMarr, David Herman, Andrea Savage, and Stephen Root. It is available on the Paramount+ streaming platform.
In 1998, Beavis and Butt-Head are sent to attend Space Camp following a mishap that results in the Highland High School gym being burned down, with the judge believing this could help shape the “at risk” youths. It isn’t long before our heroes find themselves on a Space Shuttle mission, on which everything (unsurprisingly!) goes horribly wrong. Sucked into a black hole, the twosome finds themselves back on Earth, but the year is now 2022. Sent forward in time, how will the dimwitted duo adjust to life a quarter century in the future? And perhaps more importantly, will they finally score?
When I was a young child in the 90s, BEAVIS AND BUTT-HEAD was one of my absolute favorite shows. Granted, back then I liked it for the outrageous behavior and language displayed by the adolescent hoodlums (and my parents weren’t exactly too crazy when I began using that language myself!), but over time I came to admire the show more for its (surprisingly intelligent) satirical angle focused on everyday American life, with the show essentially offering a universe with all the hypocrisy and lies of the world are on display, but seen through the eyes of two couldn’t-care-less teens who were more interested in headbanging, eating nachos and trying unsuccessfully to score.
BEAVIS AND BUTT-HEAD began as a series of shorts on MTV’s LIQUID TELEVISION animation showcase series before being picked up as its own series which ran for several years in the 1990s, also spawning a feature film, BEAVIS AND BUTT-HEAD DO AMERICA, and a whole lot of controversy in its wake. The show ended when creator Mike Judge went to focus on his next animated project, KING OF THE HILL (which ran for over a decade and is one of the longest-running animated series of all time). BEAVIS AND BUTT-HEAD was revived for one season in 2011, and while funny, the idiotic twosome had vanished from the airwaves just as quickly as they’d returned. But then fans got the announcement the pair would be returning for a new film on Paramount+. How does BEAVIS AND BUTT-HEAD DO THE UNIVERSE measure up?
BEAVIS AND BUTT-HEAD was funny as hell in the 1990s. They’re just as funny in 2022.
I’d be lying if I said I had my doubts about this film. Granted, it’s not a perfect movie by any means, but Mike Judge still understands what makes these characters work and manages to find the ideal situations to put them in. It may be 30 years since these characters premiered, but they’re the same old Beavis and Butt-Head. And I laughed as hard as ever.
One of my greatest concerns about this film would be the inclusion of a science fiction angle; the greatest strength of BEAVIS AND BUTT-HEAD was its being a satire on modern American life so this seemed out of place. I’m happy to say Mike Judge and company manage to make this work, and it actually leads the way to a potential series revival set in the modern day while retaining the characters in their “classic” incarnations and looks. Sure, some of the situations are a little different than what you’re used to, but at the end of the day, these are totally the characters you remember. From space camp to a shuttle mission gone awry due to the boys’ stupidity, from a college campus to a county jail, and right back to the boys’ classic 90s house, DO THE UNIVERSE never lets up. It’s impossible not to laugh here, and the sheer absurdity of the situations the boys find themselves in, often as a result of their horny dimwittedness being mistaken for intelligence, never fail to please. Yes, it’s unabashedly juvenile at times, but I challenge you not to laugh! It’s not only a fantastic BEAVIS AND BUTT-HEAD revival; it may be on my list of funniest films of 2022.
If there’s one minor weakness to the otherwise hilarious film, it’s that the “road trip” aspect of the movie means that series regulars outside of the titular duo are pretty much relegated to cameos and not much more. I definitely missed these series regulars and was sad not to see them get bigger roles. Some of the sci-fi elements go a bit too far at times; I really debate how much of this was necessary. Just enough to get the job done would’ve been fine. Let’s stick to the Universe before we get to the Multiverse!
It also would’ve been nice to have more of a music element to the film; obviously the structure of a feature film makes it difficult to incorporate the element of the duo making fun of music videos. DO AMERICA managed to incorporate the music video with that entertaining-as-hell White Zombie hallucination sequence. Sadly, DO THE UNIVERSE doesn’t quite have anything that memorable. It’s pretty ironic when the best use of licensed music in a BEAVIS AND BUTT-HEAD movie is a Michael Bolton song (and NO, I’m not talking about the old days when he was a rocker, either!)
Minor missteps aside, this is a hilarious film and a brilliant revival of these characters. 30 years later, they’re the same dimwitted teenagers they’ve ever been, and bravo to series creator/voice actor Mike Judge for finding ways to keep them forever young while throwing them into increasingly absurd and ludicrous situations. It’s tough to review a movie like this without including some spoilers, but I’ve tried my best here; BEAVIS AND BUTT-HEAD DO THE UNIVERSE must be seen to be believed and appreciated. Highly recommended for fans of animation and comedy, but as with all things BEAVIS AND BUTT-HEAD, not for the easily offended!