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Film Review

Beavis and Butt-Head Do America (1996)

IMDB link
Running time: 1h 21min
Directed by Mike Judge, Mike de Seve (segment director), Brian Mulroney (segment director)
Written by Mike Judge, Joe Stillman, Brian Mulroney
Starring Mike Judge, Bruce Willis, Demi Moore

Beavis and Butt-Head (original series 1993-1997, 1st revival 2011, 2nd revival 2022?) was (is?) MTV’s popular animated show about a pair of teenaged dingleberries who love to live, laugh, and love. To be more precise, they love (indicated by their perennial penchant for chortling obnoxiously) the notion of “scoring” — while they have significant difficulties in achieving this lofty goal themselves. Everything is a joke to them, rated from “sucks” to “rules”, even if they do not quite understand the joke; and with nothing being sacred, the show was able to make fun of a wide variety of topics. As the series quickly became a success, a movie was inevitable, and in 1996 Beavis and Butt-Head do America saw the light of day — and now, in the summer of 2022, there is also a sequel that has just come out. Beavis and Butt-Head was clearly a product of the 90’s, but it has proven it has staying power — does the 1996 movie, though?

Beavis and Butt-Head get some action

I should acknowledge that Beavis and Butt-Head was created by Mike Judge (who also voices the titular characters), but I won’t go into the history much deeper than that. I would not call myself a huge fan of the show, but I did watch some of the episodes as they aired and I have the DVD collection. There are some fantastic episodes with great comedic moments, despite the apparent juvenility of it all (the episode about sexual harassment is particularly memorable to me). The show never takes itself seriously (and how can it?), and that works to its favor. The stupidity is done intelligently, and the show manages to do some social commentary as well as entertain. On the surface level, it is exceedingly dumb, but it does at times go deeper than that (similar to South Park (1997-)). The episodes are really short, so the mediocre to bad ones won’t grate on your nerves for too long, or you can just skip them. I’ve shown some episodes to people who never watched the show, and the reception has been mostly positive.

…and some more action
Demi Moore and Bruce Willis (ab)use the titular teens for their own gain

For the movie, they got Bruce Willis and Demi Moore, neither of whom I realized were in the film while watching it. The voice work overall is good, but not spectacular. The art and animation is slightly fancier than the show, and it works fine. The script, however, is lacking; the movie feels like a mediocre episode stretched out to feature film length. It starts out strong, with the first third or so being quite good with plenty of laughs; after that, aside from a few successful gags and moments, it starts to wear out its welcome and becomes stale. Thankfully, the runtime is under 1.5 hours; otherwise this review would be much more negative.

Beavis makes a friend

For hardcore fans, who care about Beavis and Butt-Head lore — as ridiculous as that sounds — the film does fill out some blanks. There are also a couple of musical segments included, which is reminiscent of how the show (which, remember, aired on MTV) had real music videos on it, which were commented on by B & B-H, interspersing the narrative. The movie has effort put into it, but it just does not work all the way through. The plot is serviceable, and it probably does not need to be more than that; the main problem with the film is that it just is not as fun as the show is at its best. However, since comedy is largely subjective, Beavis and Butt-Head enthusiasts will likely find much more enjoyment in the film than regular people.

A chance encounter leads to some revelations
What better place to rock out?

Much like The Simpsons Movie (2007), the film version of B & B-H is nowhere near as good as the best episodes of the series. To be fair, that would be difficult indeed. For anyone who has not seen Beavis and Butt-Head, I would only recommend checking the 1996 film out after watching the show, and to keep their expectations low.

Rating: 6.0 / 10

Times I had seen this film prior to this viewing: 2

Would I want to rewatch this film? Probably not, but who knows

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