Fans of Beavis and Butt-Head have been waiting 26 years for a follow-up to 1996’s (excellent) Beavis and Butt-Head Do America. Given that the film expanded five-minute plotlines into feature-length, it was frankly far better than it had any real right to be. Now, we’re going back to the well for the first time since Beavis and Butt-Head was revived for an eighth season in 2011. Despite arguably being the best season of the entire show, Season 8 was a commercial failure due to the changing landscape of MTV. But the world has changed a lot in the last 11 years and, in this new era of streaming, Beavis and Butt-Head fit right in. Well, except for the fact that so much time has passed since we last saw them.
Do the Universe is an odd movie in that it bends over backwards to explain this. Opening in the '90s, the plot is a time-travel story where a black hole transports Beavis and Butt-Head to the modern day – the film is largely here to set up a forthcoming revival of the TV series and Mike Judge felt the need to explain how they haven't aged yet despite the show’s last revival being set in 2011 without explanation.
Beyond that, though, that means that this is a full-blown science fiction movie. And it goes beyond time travel; the film could just as easily have been called Beavis and Butt-Head Do the Multiverse given that two prominent characters are two versions of Beavis and Butt-Head we encounter from an alternate reality containing the smartest Beavis and the smartest Butt-Head from every universe in existence.
It should be jarring that Beavis and Butt-Head, a cartoon that, like all of Mike Judge's work, is pretty firmly set within reality - and a mundane reality at that - is now competing in the same landscape as this year's Marvel movies but, somehow, it works beautifully. Typically, a 20+ year wait for a sequel doesn’t tend to yield good results – especially when the original movie was such a product of its era. But Beavis and Butt-Head Do the Universe is a completely worthy follow-up to Do America and, frankly, a frontrunner for the title of funniest movie of 2022.
If there’s one complaint, it’s that the lavish, hand-drawn animation of the first film that wonderfully built upon the crude drawings of the TV series is no more. Rendered by animation studio Titmouse, everything is digital here. It’s a good job of recreation the show’s look with modern techniques, but it lacks much of the warmth and charm that came with the first film.
Still, make no mistakes; with this being a Paramount+ project, you’d be forgiven for expecting a glorified, extended episode of a cartoon (akin to the 14 South Park TV movies we’re currently being given). This is a real movie and it’s frankly a real shame that we weren’t given the option to see it in cinemas – especially when we could have double-billed it with The Bob’s Burgers Movie which is currently playing.Beavis and Butt-Head do the Universe is currently streaming on Paramount+ in the US and will be available in the UK in July.