1990s Comedy Masterpiece

A masterpiece of low-brow, puerile humor, Beavis and Butt-Head Do America turns out far better on the silver screen than even the show’s most ardent fans could have hoped. Mike Judge’s dimwitted teenagers took MTV by storm in the early 1990s, a touchstone for disaffected Gen X youth. The show’s poorly animated protagonists, mocking the music channel’s outrageous videos with a wickedly dumb sense of humor, carried its deadpan sense of irony and hints of adolescent alienation.

The television series had a small recurring cast of characters and relied heavily on MTV’s music videos. Some wondered how a cheaply animated program would fare over eighty minutes without relying on one of its biggest strengths: trashing popular music videos. Mike Judge smoothly makes the transition to film without a hitch in Beavis and Butt-Head Do America. Packed with laughs and twisted satire, it’s even more fun on the big screen.

Beavis and Butt-Head Do America turns out far better on the silver screen than even the show’s most ardent fans could have hoped

The boys go on a long road trip across America when a man (voiced by Bruce Willis) mistakenly hires the clueless teens to murder his wife (voiced by Demi Moore). Restless after their beloved idiot box, the television, is taken away from them, the wayward teens think they’ve been sent to sleep with her and finally score. Starting in Vegas and ultimately landing in D.C., Beavis and Butt-Head get in a series of misadventures as they unknowingly evade an FBI agent (Robert Stack) chasing them down.

Loaded with trashy jokes and sexual innuendo, Mike Judge expands the potty humor from the television show into a roller coaster ride of hilarity. It’s a revealing, if crude, peek into an adolescent boy’s sense of humor. There’s no agenda here except making the audience laugh. Casting Robert Stack as a straight-laced FBI agent obsessed with cavity searches is a masterstroke.

Sadly, Beavis and Butt-Head Do America was the franchise’s high point. It went off the air after seven seasons in 1997. The show returned for a brief stint in 2011 but wasn’t the same, a relic leftover from the 1990s which didn’t quite click with today’s youth.

Video

Beavis and Butt-Head had limited, even rough animation on MTV. Cheaply designed with little movement, Judge and crew retain the same basic character designs. Differences in the 1996 film include more expansive settings while retaining the same low-fi aesthetic from the show. This is certainly not Disney-caliber quality.

Paramount provides a perfectly reasonable, satisfactory film transfer. Outside of the more exotically colored desert scene, colors are adequate. The film scan is unfiltered and left untouched. It’s a dated but film-like presentation which mirrors the intended appearance. Definition is slightly dull and underwhelming.

Running a little over 80 minutes on a BD-25, the AVC encode transparently renders the simple animation, warts and all. Dust and debris left from the animation process aren’t huge concerns but reflect the lack of heavy digital clean-up often used on classic animation. The 1080p video isn’t a stunner and doesn’t compare with the brighter, more vibrant palettes often used in animated flicks. Black levels are kept in check and a firm contrast holds throughout the movie.

Audio

The 5.1 DTS-HD MA audio is shockingly robust with a full, open sound design which takes advantage of all six channels in the crazier scenes. Clean, crisp dialogue has nice balance with the superb score and music from a variety of popular ‘90s rock acts such as Red Hot Chili Peppers. There’s ample bass and tight channel separation in the opening scene with giant fantasy versions of Beavis and Butt-Head tearing up a city like Godzilla.

Optional English, English SDH, and French subtitles play in a white font. A French dub is offered in 2.0 Dolby Digital.

Extras

Finally hitting Blu-ray for the movie’s 25th anniversary, Paramount ports over all the special features included on their 2006 Collector’s Edition DVD. There’s nothing new added, which is disappointing. However, it’s a solid commentary from Mike Judge and the bonus features still hold up.

Paramount includes a digital copy which redeems in HDX video quality on either VUDU or iTunes. It is not eligible for Movies Anywhere. No slipcover is available for this Blu-ray.

Like most every Paramount release on Blu-ray, the BD is coded for all regions.

Audio Commentary By Director Mike Judge and Animation Director Yvette Kaplan – Judge is always a fun listen and carries this engaging discussion. Kaplan contributes much less, mostly providing a laugh soundtrack for Judge’s often humorous stories and anecdotes. Cornholio was apparently conceived by Judge as a way to torment his sister growing up.

The Big Picture Featurette (22:42 in SD) – A nicely put-together documentary featuring Judge and others as the show’s early history is documented and how it made the leap to the big screen.

We’re Gonna Score! Scoring Beavis & Butt-Head Do America Featurette (10:57 in SD) – Composer John Frizzell’s excellent score is highlighted.

The Smackdown Featurette (02:33 in SD) – A montage of every scene with Butt-Head smacking Beavis.

MTV News: Celebrity Shorts

Jennifer Tilly (01:08 in SD)

Steve Buscemi (01:38 in SD)

Snoop Dogg (00:48 in SD)

TV Spots (06:10 in SD) – Twelve amusing spots made for MTV and other channels.

Theatrical Teaser Trailer #1 (00:35 in SD)

Theatrical Teaser Trailer #2 (00:46 in SD)

Full disclosure: This Blu-ray was provided to us for review. This has not affected the editorial process. For information on how we handle review material, please visit our about us page to learn more.

Beavis and Butt-Head Do America
  • Video
  • Audio
  • Extras

Beavis and Butt-Head Do America

MTV’s unruly, dimwitted adolescents hit the big screen in grand style, a surprisingly well-crafted comedy built upon a foundation of timelessly juvenile humor and crude satire.

Overall
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4 (1 vote)

The following six screen shots serve as samples for our subscription-exclusive set of 54 full resolution, uncompressed HD screen shots grabbed directly from the Blu-ray: