Beavis & Butt-head Do the Universe review: A pleasantly dumb multiverse

Beavis & Butt-head Do the Universe review: A pleasantly dumb multiverse

Beavis and Butt-head, seen here potentially succumbing to space madness.
Enlarge / Beavis and Butt-head, seen here potentially succumbing to space madness.

Primordial

The Mike Judge-iverse has long toyed with the inherent comedy of outright stupidity. But like anyone who has looked beyond the incessant “heh heh heh” of Beavis and Butthead knows, Judge’s cartoons, TV series, and movies are at their best when toying with the question of exactly who in the room is “smart” or “dumb.”

This week’s big news Beavis and Butthead make the universe, a direct-to-Paramount+ movie that debuts Thursday, June 23, is that it finally sees Judge and co. bring a smart and silly approach to its most famous cartoon. This week’s film achieves this much more successfully than the other feature in the 1996 series. Its ideas mesh well with the show’s toilet-bottom silliness and feel fresh instead of ripped off. to other Judge series.

Failing forward, down to space

Many years later, these guys still love AC/DC and Metallica t-shirts.  Also, nachos.  Lots of nachos.
Enlarge / Many years later, these guys still love AC/DC and Metallica t-shirts. Also, nachos. Lots of nachos.

Primordial

The film opens with some crazy comedy in sight, as Beavis and Butt-head are in high school in the 90s, still oblivious to anything that doesn’t look like boobs, explosions, sticky snacks or phrases that sound like euphemisms. (Heh, heh. “Sticky.”)

The macguffin that sets this film’s plot in motion is about as high a concept as you’d get from a crudely drawn ’90s series. After causing countless destruction and bodily harm, Beavis and Butt-head are put before a judge who, luckily for them, has been freshly swayed by a certain relic of ’90s pop culture.” When I see these two boys today, I don’t see their failure,” he told a crowded courtroom as the defendants stared confusedly into space. “I see our failure.”

The judge rules that the criminal negligence of these two idiots should be rewarded with a trip to a NASA-themed special event. This is becoming a common theme in make the universe: an adult sees these boys acting like idiots, gives them the benefit of the doubt and puts them in a position to cause more damage and death. The result is an increasingly hot fireball of i love lucy-like, comedy focused on misunderstandings. And the movie knows better than to worry about tightening the logic when every NASA nerd in the room finally decides that, yes, it’s worth putting a crucial American agency in the hands of Beavis and Butt-head: ” We could finally get Americans interested in the new space program.”

No crotch is safe

Yes, the duo wonder if this training exercise will help them
Enlarge / Yes, the duo wonder if this training exercise will help them “score”.

Primordial

Between every giggling double meaning and every juvenile visual gag, make the universe is careful to insert diametrically opposed people into the plot, usually with their own anxieties and problems keeping them busy enough to look away for a second while the titular duo deal with the chaos. (It’s the cartoon version of a professional wrestling referee looking away while someone gets hit in the crotch with a steel chair.)

This setup makes for easy laughs when Beavis and Butt-head get away with stuff, sure, but filmmakers also use it to pull off different kinds laughter: a weak, subordinate government is often trampled on; a real estate agent questions the hapless couple who walked into an exhibit for sale, suggesting their love life has gone sour; a teacher allows the duo to interrupt one of her lessons so she can provide a “teachable moment” – and it’s no surprise that neither Beavis nor Butt-head interpret the lesson correctly .

Beavis and Butt-head, meet Butt-head and Beavis.
Enlarge / Beavis and Butt-head, meet Butt-head and Beavis.

Primordial

Perhaps better than any of these examples is the wacky sci-fi angle of the film, which sees the duo rip a hole in the space-time continuum and thus put the entire universe in jeopardy. This introduces at least another version of the two main characters to the film, and the resulting confrontations are the highlight of the film. One version of Beavis lands an amazing meta-commentary joke during its presentation, and I don’t want to spoil it – or, really, any joke involving additional versions.

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