Beavis and Butthead Do the Universe (2022)
As my friend Ben Bailey told me in reference to Beavis and Butthead Do the Universe, this sequel scratched a nostalgic itch I didn’t know I had. I grew up casually watching Beavis and Butthead in the 1990s on MTV, and I found their general low-brow buffoonery to be amusing, especially how creator Mike Judge (Office Space, Silicon Valley) was satirizing the show’s own target audience. I had no attachment to the eternally horny yet dimwitted duo, and so a sequel to their first film foray in 1996 had limited appeal for me. But then a few minutes in to this Paramount Plus original, I started chuckling, and then there were points were I was laughing hard, and I appreciate Judge’s efforts at making stupid this clever. The realm of this movie is completely in the stupid comedy genre, and yet you have to be really smart to do stupid comedy so well for 90 minutes. Beavis and Butthead (both voiced yet again by Judge) are mistaken for science geniuses and taken on a space mission where they are jettisoned into a black hole sending them forward in time to 2022. Thankfully, the fish-out-of-water jokes are kept to a minimum, though the confrontation of their out-of-time ignorance with modern technology and social attitudes provides some of the best moments. I laughed silly when Beavis and Butthead learn about their white privilege from a college class and are mischievously empowered from this news, taking whatever they want in a food court because they have impunity. There’s a fun subplot where Beavis grows closer to self-reflection and emotional intimacy through the sheer act of talking to a woman on the phone, though he doesn’t understand it’s only the voice assistant Siri. There’s also an alternate universe “smart” Beavis and “smart” Butthead warning them about the dire consequences of space-time, and they admit that in no universe, with no iteration, have a Beavis or a Butthead ever “scored.” The humor is low and crude and heavy in double entendres, but it’s also consistent and fast-paced with plenty of comical misunderstandings. I would have said we, as a culture, had moved beyond Beavis and Butthead, whose modern-day ilk would likely be the self-loathing incels and trolls on 4Chan. However, Do the Universe lands enough of its juvenile jokes and satire and doesn’t overstay its welcome. It’s dumb done right.
Nate’s Grade: B