Mike Judge’s verse has long played with the inherent comedy of total stupidity. But as anyone who has looked beyond the incessant “heh heh heh” of Beavis and Butt-Head You know, Judge’s cartoons, TV series, and movies are at their best when they play around with the question of who exactly in the room is the “smart” or the “dumb.”
The big news about this week Beavis and Butt-Head make the universe, a direct-to-Paramount+ movie premiering Thursday, June 23, is what finally sees Judge and co. bring a smart and stupid approach to his most famous cartoon. This week’s movie achieves that far more successfully than the other feature film in the 1996 series. Its ideas meld well with the series’ bathroom backroom stupidity and feel fresh, rather than as if ripped from the other shows. of Judge.
Crashing forward, all the way to space
The film opens with a wacky comedy in its sights, as Beavis and Butt-head are both in high school in the ’90s, still oblivious to anything that doesn’t resemble boobs, explosions, gooey chips, or phrases that sound like understatements. (Heh, heh. “Sticky.”)
The McGuffin that sets this movie’s plot in motion is about as high a concept as you’ll get from a crudely drawn ’90s series. After causing an incalculable amount of destruction and bodily harm, Beavis and Butt-head are placed in front of a judge – who, luckily for him, was recently influenced by a certain relic of ’90s pop culture. “When I see these two kids today, I don’t see their failure,” he says in a crowded courtroom as defendants look confused at the space. “I see our failure.”
The judge decides that the criminal negligence of these two idiots must be rewarded with a trip to a NASA-themed special event. This becomes a recurring 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 greater harm and death. The result is an increasingly scorching fireball of i love lucy-like, comedy driven by misunderstandings. And the movie knows better than to worry about squeezing logic when every NASA nerd in the room finally decides that, yes, it’s worth putting a crucial American agency in Beavis and Butt-head’s hands: space program again.”
No crotch is safe
Between every laughing double entendre and youthful visual gag, make the universe is careful to insert diametrically opposite people into the plot, often with their own anxieties and problems, keeping them busy enough to look away for a second while the titular duo attends to the chaos. (It’s the cartoon version of a professional wrestling referee looking away as someone is hit in the groin with a steel chair.)
This setup helps laughs when Beavis and Butt-head get away with it, certainly, but filmmakers also use it to different results. types laughs: a weakling in the subordinate government is often trampled on; a realtor has questions about the hapless couple who entered an exhibition for sale, suggesting their love life has gone awry; a teacher allows the pair to interrupt one of their classes so she can broadcast a “teaching moment” – and it’s no surprise that neither Beavis nor Butt-head interpret the lesson correctly.
Better than perhaps all of these cases is the film’s wacky sci-fi angle, which sees the duo punch a hole in the space-time continuum and thus put the entire universe at risk. This introduces at least one other version of both main characters into the film, and the resulting clashes are the highlight of the film. A version of Beavis makes an awesome meta-commentary joke when introducing himself, and I don’t want to spoil that – or, for that matter, any joke involving additional versions.