July 29, 2018

Beavis and Butt-Head Do America (1996)
Grade: 68/100

Director: Mike Judge
Stars: Mike Judge, Robert Stack, Demi Moore

What it's about. An animated feature based on the MTV television animated series. Mike Judge is the man behind the franchise, and he provides the voices for the two leads, Beavis and Butt-Head. They are teenagers with ugly faces and oversized heads. They are oblivious to their own stupidity, and to the chaos that their incompetence causes. They are obsessed with television and scoring, that is, having sex with women, something it seems likely they will never do throughout their long, animated lives.

The duo's precious television set is stolen, and the two walk the streets aimlessly in search of it. They encounter career criminal Muddy Grimes (Bruce Willis), who presumes they are the hit men he recently hired to kill his estranged wife Dallas (Demi Moore, of course then-wife of Willis).

Muddy sends the duo to Las Vegas to "do" Dallas, something predictably misunderstood by the ever-clueless Beavis and Butt-Head. Thus begins the cross-country journeys by our feckless leads, causing chaos in Vegas, the Hoover Dam, and Washington, D.C.

Along the way, the two meet their parents, encounter Cloris Leachman in a tour bus, and are pursued by Robert Stack, a Federal agent who believes in "deep cavity searches." Their misadventures also lead to the arrests of liberal teacher Mr. Van Driessen, stammering Principal McVicker, and redneck neighbor Tom Anderson.

At one point, the Dufus Duo nearly die in the desert, experiencing hallucinations with animation by Rob Zombie. Isaac Hayes, the Red Hot Chili Peppers, LL Cool J, White Zombie, and Ozzy Osbourne contribute to the soundtrack.

How others will see it. Beavis and Butt-Head Do America was a box office hit, grossing five times its budget in the U.S. alone. Surprisingly, there has never been a sequel. The movie was ignored by practically all the film festivals, though the Razzies nominated Beavis and Butt-Head as Worst Screen Couple.

Today at imdb.com, the movie has a decent 47K user ratings and an okay-plus user rating of 6.8 out of 10. As usual, the ratings decine with advancing age of the viewer, down to 5.9 among women over 45, who are most likely to be repelled by our antisocial leads.

The user reviews are mostly positive but not overwhelming so. Most viewers find at least something to enjoy.

How I felt about it. Mike Judge achieved later success with the long-running "King of the Hill" animated sitcom, and (especially) the feature film Office Space (1999), which mocked the corporate world and all its miserable pecking orders.

But I have always preferred Judge's first entry into American culture. And I'm not alone: during their heyday, they were favorites of David Letterman, who including them in his one-and-only hosting of the Oscars. You either like Beavis and Butt-Head or you don't. If you fall into the latter category, it is a marvel you are still reading this review.

Beavis, in particular, is Primal Man, a barely literate and functional person without a past or future. It is all about the present, which involves watching television and hanging out with Butt-Head while dreaming about scoring with sluts. It's a wasted life, of course, but there wasn't much potential there, anyway.

What makes Beavis so endearing is that he is so stupid and clueless that he doesn't know he is merely a waste of oxygen. There's no hope of improvement, but at least he can make us laugh. Some of us, at any rate.