Beavis and Butt-Head Do the Universe Review: Longtime Fans Will Score Big

It's been nearly 12 years since Beavis and Butt-Head were last on TV screens, and even longer since the original run of the series was at the height of influence. It was one of MTV's first original animated programs that really had the kind of impact that's hard to quantify how much of a dent the titular duo had on pop culture. The original run of the series was such a hit, in fact, that the duo made their big-screen debut with Beavis and Butt-Head Do America back in 1996. Now, decades later, Beavis and Butt-Head have returned with a new feature film that takes them on their wildest journey yet. 

Beavis and Butt-Head Do the Universe quite literally brings the famous duo into the present day, and not only serves to showcase some fresh shenanigans from the duo after all these years, but likely is the foundation for the upcoming reboot series now in the works. It features the highest overall concept that the franchise has ever seen, but don't be fooled: this is still very much the same inane, absurd, and hilariously stupid duo that fans fell in love with all those years ago. But that nostalgic coating will boost it that much more for those returning to the franchise rather than jumping in for the first time. 

Beavis and Butt-Head Do the Universe sees the 1990s duo (meaning it technically forgoes the revival eighth season from 2011) screw up to such an extent, they're "sentenced" to a stint at space camp. When those at NASA mistake Beavis and Butt-Head's love of a certain device for dedication and expertise, they end up on a new mission that naturally ends in ruin and they are sucked into a black hole. Transporting to our current year of 2022, the duo finds out they need to go back to their own time unless the entire multiverse is destroyed. But like all of their other adventures so far, all Beavis and Butt-Head really want to do is score. 

While it might be the wildest concept the franchise has taken on before, at its core, it's still very much a usual Beavis and Butt-Head story. Much like seen with Beavis and Butt-Head Do America, the stakes involved are much grander in overall scale, but you would never really guess that when going from scene to scene, due to how the two of them operate. The humor derives from the idiocy of their actions, and their wanton teenage desire to do whatever they want without much thought, but the rest of the world around them plays it straight. 

It's an increasing fallacy that continues to build as the logical thinkers around them misconstrue their actions for something much more intelligent. For example, Beavis' classic Cornholio identity makes its return when he and Butt-Head are put in jail. Much like seen before, Cornolio's rantings for toilet paper are misunderstood and the other inmates actually start to protest over their own lack of toilet paper. This is already absurd on its own, but soon one of the commanding officers believes them to be almost angelic-like entities (since records show they died in the 1990s) meant to push them to change. 

It's an extension of the original Beavis and Butt-Head idea to see the teenage boys do reckless things regardless of the outside world, but that outside world bends to make them "lucky" enough to get to the next set piece or gag. It's a formula that will indeed work best with those already aware of their actions from the 1990s. It works best in the modern-day when you can properly gauge the anachronistic nature of their characters overall, too. Seeing them react to 2022 technology results in some pretty fun, if albeit predictable gags (such as them mistaking Siri to be a real person), but it also surprises with more of the social commentary creator Mike Judge is known for (such as the duo discovering they have white privilege). 

Beavis and Butt-Head Do the Universe feels like we're jumping right back into the original run of the series, but with the added layers of comedy and absurdity that comes with reviving the two for the modern era. At the same time, however, mileage will vary from person to person. This is still very much Beavis and Butt-Head, and they have in no way really changed since we saw them last. There is more nuance to their character traits, like Beavis being the more lucid and emotionally vulnerable of the two (a welcome addition to the hints of clarity we saw from Beavis in the past), but you're still spending 90 minutes with the same doofuses at the end of the day. 

They might have traveled across space and time for this movie, but scenes are still very much broken into a familiar road-trip formula that has Beavis and Butt-Head interacting with loosely connected set pieces and characters over the course of their journey. The villains are like the ones in Do America, too, as they're out to kill Beavis and Butt-Head, and shadowy government organizations are involved and mistake them for being something much bigger than they actually are. 

There's some self-awareness from the duo this time around, but Beavis and Butt-Head Do the Universe feels like a project made for fans of the classic 1990s animated series who want to see these boys act up once more. In that sense, it could stand to lean into that nostalgia even more (as the classic side characters are relegated to a very brief cameo). But it makes up for it with the nostalgic way the film plays out. That being said, if you have no nostalgia for it or dislike the main duo, Beavis and Butt-Head Do the Universe does a disservice. 

It's going to be the best first impression for potential new fans, given its clean look and many of the more detailed character designs from every non-Beavis or Butt-Head human character. It's the best story to get a feel for what this franchise has to offer as a whole, too. But Beavis and Butt-Head Do the Universe just does more for those who know all these two want to do is score. 

Rating: 4 out of 5

Beavis and Butt-Head Do the Universe releases June 23rd on Paramount+