Sunday, March 25, 2012

Beavis and Butthead Do America

Beavis and Butthead Do America (1996) is the feature-length spin-0ff of the MTV show, the brain-child of Mike Judge. In its heyday, the show generated plenty of controversy. Some parent groups and others claimed the show inspired bad and illicit behavior among children who watched it. Those opponents clearly never realized Beavis and Butthead, even in their own universe, are the worst people in the world, worthy only of scorn and mockery. My advice to parents: if your child watches Beavis and Butthead and emulates their behavior, the problem isn't the show.

The movie, I feel, is culmination against all that backlash, one big joke on all those people who said the pair was harmful. For those wondering what Mike Judge thinks of his characters, he makes Beavis and Butthead the two most wanted criminals in the country who unwittingly threaten to destroy the world but are too stupid to notice or care, even after the day is saved and they are honored by Bill Clinton. Beavis and Butthead are not anti-heroes or even antagonists; they are anti-protagonists. Vulgar, lazy, gross, immature, self-absorbed, moronic, and sex-obsessed, they exhibit no ambition, no development, no heroics, and no effort. Everything happens around them. They initiate nothing.

Highland, Texas teenagers Beavis and Butthead (both voiced by Judge) have a problem. Someone has stolen their television. While looking for it, they are mistaken for hitmen by Muddy Grimes (Bruce Willis), a drunk criminal who hires the two to "do" his wife Dallas (Demi Moore). Thinking they're being paid to "score," they end up in Las Vegas and eventually on the road to Washington D.C., not knowing a biological weapon has been stitched into Beavis' shorts. This draws the attention of ATF Agent Flemming (Robert Stack) who organizes a massive manhunt to locate America's new number-one fugitives.

Did I really just spend all that time describing the plot of something with Beavis and Butthead in it? Judge uses the feature-length opportunity to take the boys out of Highland and away from the usual supporting characters, although Principal McVicker, teacher Mr. Van Driessen, and neighbor Tom Anderson make appearances. Anderson and his wife Nancy are in a running subplot about how they're on vacation and keep running into Beavis and Butthead (of course it ends with Anderson's life completely ruined as usual).

Beavis and Butthead Do America a little more mainstream and little more polished from a technical standpoint than the show, but Judge's subversive streak remains strong. The humor thrives on Beavis and Butthead's idiocy as much as the show did, but Judge manages to find scenarios and ideas to keep it fresh and funny. By taking them out of Highland, Judge finds new places for the boys to get into trouble: a Las Vegas hotel, the Hoover dam, Yellowstone Park, the desert, and finally the White House.

There's not a whole more I can say about the movie, but if you like the show, you'll probably enjoy the movie.

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