Huh, huh, huh, huh, this movie is old – huh, huh, huh.
On the 15th of December 1996, one of the dumbest and yet greatest animated movies ever made had it’s premiere in Los Angeles. Today marks the 20th anniversary of Beavis and Butt-Head Do America. So here, I’d like to take a quick look at Beavis and Butt-Head in general as well as their first and (so far) only big screen outing. So play some Red Hot Chili Peppers – LOUD and prepare as I take you on a journey into stupidity…
The brainchild of actor, animator, writer, producer, director, and musician – Mike Judge. Beavis and Butt-head began life as a simple animated short made for Liquid Television called; Frog Baseball which aired in 1992. This short was rude and crude in every way as our heroes (as the title suggest) play baseball using a frog. This was followed up with another short called; Peace, Love and Understanding where Beavis and Butt-head go to a monster truck rally and cross paths with Sterculius, the Roman God of faeces. I never said this was highbrow stuff.
The shorts were a big hit and MTV quickly stepped in and hired Judge to develop his animated shorts into a TV show. In 1993, Beavis and Butt-head aired as a full TV show for the first time and ran for 7 consecutive seasons until the show ended in 1997. For a while, it seemed like Beavis and Butt-head were no more, though they did make appearances on MTV shows like Celebrity Death Match. They also introduced MTV’s Jackass 3D movie in theatres. Despite the show ending, the boys kept popping up in various smaller roles, my favourite of which was their ‘in-depth’ discussion of Mike Judge’s film; Extract from 2009…
Then in 2010, Mike Judge announced he was going to revive the boys and bring them back for another season. In October 2011, Beavis and Butt-head were back on MTV for an 8th season. Judge has even recently stated how he would like to do even more Beavis and Butt-head seasons or another movie, but he’s is too busy with the TV show; Silicon Valley right now to commit to another season/movie… but who knows what will happen in the future?
I love Beavis and Butt-head. Yeah its really, really stupid… but its a good stupid and sometimes even a ‘clever’ stupid. When the movie version was announced, I was as happy as Beavis playing with fire.
Along with South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut, I consider Beavis and Butt-Head Do America to be one of the greatest animated movies ever made. But what is the flick actually about?
Well Beavis and Butt-head have their TV stolen so they go out to try and watch TV elsewhere.
Yeah okay, there is a bit more to the plot than that. But the stolen TV is the catalyst that starts the avalanche of mishaps the boys find themselves in. I’ll do a proper synopsis…
After waking from a nap, Beavis and Butt-head find their TV has been stolen and very, very, very, slowly work out that this ‘sucks’. So they leave the house in an attempt to find another TV to watch. They even try their neighbour, Tom Anderson’s camper trailer as he is getting ready to set out on vacation with his wife. Only the boys end up breaking the TV and pissing off Tom along the way. This adventure leads them to someone called Muddy Grimes who drunkingly mistakes the boys for hitmen he has hired to kill his wife. Giving Beavis and Butt-head the information they need to ‘do’ his wife, Muddy drops them off at the airport to get a plane to Las Vegas where Dallas Grimes (Muddy’s wife) is.
Now in Vegas, Beavis and Butt-head find Dallas who offers them double what Muddy is paying to go back home and ‘do’ Muddy instead. This is when the FBI show up to arrest Dallas as she has stolen an experiential biological weapon known as the ‘X-5 Unit’. Dallas hides the ‘unit’ in Beavis’ clothing to prevent the FBI for getting it and sends the boys on their way to Washington.
This begins a chase across America as Dallas tries to keep up with Beavis and Butt-head so she can reclaim the ‘X-5 Unit’ without the FBI knowing. Meanwhile, Muddy sobers up and realises the mistake he has made so goes out to hunt Beavis and Butt-head down to kill them and his wife. All while the FBI put Beavis and Butt-head on America’s most wanted list.
Things all come to a head as Beavis and Butt-Head go to The White House where Muddy, Dallas, the FBI as well as Beavis and Butt-Head’s neighbour, Tom Anderson all converge as each of them all want to get their hands on the boys for different reasons, while Beavis goes into a full on Cornholio mode and seeks ‘TP for his bunghole’.
And that right there is Beavis and Butt-Head Do America in a nutshell… or nutsack.
Yeah Its dumb, but really funny dumb. The film is full of memorable scenes (desert cactus freak-out?), funny and quotable dialogue as well as great characters that Beavis and Butt-Head cross paths with along the way. Then there is that awesome soundtrack that includes the likes of; AC/DC, Ozzy Osbourne, White Zombie, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Isaac Hayes and of course, Engelbert Humperdinck singing ‘Lesbian Seagull’.
Great film and one of the best animated movies ever to be made. Now its 20 years old, its still just as funny as it ever was and probably about time we had a sequel Mr Judge…
I actually put the movie on just to have in the background as I wrote this article. But after a few minutes and before the opening credits ended, I had to stop writing and I just sat there and watched the film again instead.
Huh, huh, huh, huh, I wrote ‘tit’ – huh, huh, huh.
I just wanted to finish with some interesting facts and behind the scenes info on Beavis and Butt-Head Do America and Beavis and Butt-Head in general.
- Did you know that Mike Judge got his inspiration to create Beavis and Butt-head from the Peanuts cartoon? Yes that family friendly cartoon starring Charlie Brown and Snoopy was the basis for the foul mouthed and unruly teenage boys. You ever notice how in Peanuts, you only ever see Snoopy’s doghouse and Charlie’s house from one simple and static shot? Well that is why you only see Beavis and Butt-head siting on the couch from one simple and static shot too. Also, you never see Charlie Brown’s parents in Peanuts. Just like you never see either Beavis or Butt-head’s parents either… well not until the movie anyway.
- Speaking of their parents. Did you know that Butt-head’s dad is voiced by chat show legend, David Letterman? He didn’t use his real name in the credits, he used the name Earl Hofert instead – but it is him. The boys and David actually have a bit of a history too. They interacted together at the MTV Music awards in 1994 and then there was this…
- On the DVD commentary for the film, Mike Judge finally admits where the main theme tune to the show comes from. Its a slightly altered and played backward version of the ‘Gone Shootin’ guitar riff by AC/DC which Mike says he ‘borrowed’, probably without permission. ‘Gone Shootin’ is even used in the movie, this time with permission.
- Studio executives really wanted to make a Beavis and Butt-head movie, but they wanted it to be live action. Even comic actors David Spade and Chris Farley were suggested to play Beavis and Butt-head respectively. It took a long while for Mike Judge to convince the studio to go full animation sticking to the format and style of the TV show, but the studio interference didn’t end there. Once the animated film was agreed on, Mike had meting where executives starting pitching names to provide the voices of pretty much every character in the movie… of which Mike himself already did the voices for in the TV show as Mike recounts on the DVD commentary.
- There is a scene in the movie where Beavis and Butt-head go to a church and in the background you can hear a choir singing, but what are they actually singing? Well the lyrics are; ‘Scrotum agitato, ignoramus, genitalius largus, hemmoridus burnum, all day long.’ Why? because Beavis and Butt-head that’s why.
- Another scene has the boy’s neighbour, Tom Anderson setting up his camper trailer and attaching a butane gas canister which he comments on. Mike Judge originally wrote it to be a propane gas canister but he changed the gas to butane as he was developing another animated TV show at the time that would become King of the Hill. This show starred a propane gas salesman named Hank Hill and Mike didn’t want people to confuse the two characters… maybe them having the exact same voice wasn’t such a great idea either?
- The awesome and visually stunning desert trip-out scene only exits in the film because MTV kept asking Mike to include a scene where Beavis and Butt-head watch a music video like they did in the TV show. Mike hated the idea as he felt it would stop the flow of the picture, so he created the cactus eating, hallucination scene instead and turned the entire thing into a semi-music video itself as Beavis (self-aware?) comments in the film. Also, the art design for that scene was from Rob Zombie. One last thing, if you play the audio backwards during this scene, you’ll hear Beavis say ‘I suggest that everybody go to college and study hard’ in a clever little bit of backmasking.
- Finally, Just to bring everything full circle. In the same way Peanuts inspired Mike Judge to create Beavis and Butt-head, Beavis and Butt-head inspired Matt Stone and Trey Parker to make South Park. The two shows share similarities. Bill and Fosse (the ‘that’s gay’ kids) in South Park are based on Beavis and Butt-head right down to the laugh. Matt and Trey were developing South Park into a TV show after the success the original shorts Matt and Trey created (does this story sound familiar?) with Jesus Vs Frosty and The Spirit Of Christmas in the mid 90s. Mike Judge invited both Matt and Trey to the premier of Beavis and Butt-Head Do America where they met Isaac ‘The Duke’ Hayes who had performed the song ‘Two Cool Guys’ for the movie. It was this meeting that inspired Matt and Trey to create the character of Chef and offer the part to Isaac Hayes.
So there you go, 20 years of Beavis and Butt-Head Do America and its still just as watchable as it was two decades ago. So what are you waiting for fartknocker, go watch some Beavis and Butt-head you buttmonkey.
Beavis: “Something’s wrong with my butt.”