Saturday, June 25, 2022

Beavis and Butt-Head Do the Universe

After a brief revival in 2011, Beavis and Butt-Head remained dormant for several years until the announcement of a second revival meant for Comedy Central, later switched to Paramount+. This included a sequel film, Beavis and Butt-Head Do the Universe, which released on Paramount+ in late June 2022. With the first film, Beavis and Butt-Head Do America (1996), still fresh in my head, I watched Do the Universe on the first day of its release and found myself laughing at the crass Texas duo once more.

In 1998, sometime after the events of Beavis and Butt-Head Do America, Beavis (Mike Judge) and Butt-Head (Mike Judge) destroy their school’s science fair and are sentenced to space camp in the hopes that they can turn their lives around. While at camp, their single-minded focus on a docking simulation gets them recruited by NASA for a docking mission for the International Space Station, but the duo thinks they’re going to score with Captain Serena Ryan (Andrea Savage). After Beavis and Butt-Head fail spectacularly, Serena tosses them into outer space, where a black hole sends them to Texas in 2022, twenty-four years later. Shortly after, the duo is warned by alternate universe versions of themselves to go through a certain portal within two days, or else the universe will collapse. Naturally, Beavis and Butt-Head ignore this warning and instead start searching for Serena to try and score with her. Meanwhile, their arrival has grabbed the attention of both Serena, now Governor of Texas, and the FBI, both of whom want them dead for different reasons.

Do the Universe starts off strong with a creative premise that does a great job laying the groundwork for placing Beavis and Butt-Head in the modern day, which opens up a lot of possibilities on its own. Fortunately, the film capitalizes on its potential, showing the duo struggle with the iPhone, abuse the power of smart payments for endless nachos and hilariously misinterpret a Gender Studies class they wander into. The boys’ misadventures in getting laid lead to some funny and clever social commentary without feeling too mean-spirited or preachy, all while incorporating some classic jokes in new and hilarious ways that feel very on point for the series. On top of that, the story itself is actually pretty well-written, with multiple subplots that come together nicely in the third act and leading to an ending that sticks the landing and sets the stage well for any future installments. Interestingly, the film also introduces some subtle character development and references the 1994 CBS series Touched by an Angel a couple times to advance the plot in a neat way.

One noticeably major difference between Do America and Do the Universe is the change from traditional animation to digital, with animation handled by Titmouse, Inc. Amazingly, the move to digital doesn’t take away much, if at all, from the film, as it not only maintains the original art style, but even retains some of the series’ unique quirks like the slight model changes between “mouth open” and “mouth closed” poses. There’s also some CG, but mostly in the opening sequence and otherwise unnoticeable if used beyond that. If there’s one thing I could say, however, it’s that the digital animation doesn’t quite feel as warm as Do America’s traditional and there are moments where it can feel just a little off due to some noticeable tweening.

On the other hand, Do the Universe maintains the standard of great voice acting from Do America, especially from Mike Judge, who once again knocks it out of the park as both Beavis and Butt-Head. As the film still has involvement from MTV, it also still features a selection of licensed tracks that fit right in with the duo’s tastes and play at just the right moments.

With how much the modern film landscape has changed, Beavis and Butt-Head Do the Universe shows us that there’s still room for the series’ sense of humor and strong commentary through the duo’s unique perspective. Much like Do America, this film’s running time, only 86 minutes, means that it also doesn’t overstay its welcome.

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