Beavis and Butt-Head Beavis and Butt-Head

Beavis and Butt-Head Do the Universe hits Paramount+ today, so we checked in to see how critics are feeling about the duo’s return to feature animation.

Most critics, as is usually the case with long-dormant IPs, focused on whether the formula that made Mike Judge’s original series a cultural phenomenon in the 1990s would still work in 2022. And, almost to a person, they agreed that fart jokes and kicks in the crotch hold up as comedic gold, even if the format used to to deliver them can sometimes feel dated.

Beavis and Butt-Head do the Universe currently sits at an impressive 97% at Rotten Tomatoes. The film may not be nominated at next year’s Oscars, but the overwhelming majority of the reviewers who have seen it agree that it’s a hilarious way to spend 84 minutes and that it lives up to its fart-knocking predecessors.

Here’s what the critics are saying:

Kate Erbland at Indiewire was excited to see the duo back in all their crudely drawn 2d glory:

[B]lessedly unchanged is the animation’s crude 2D style; the film looks like it could have aired on MTV three decades ago, and that’s a compliment. Wholly unmoved by the twists their lives have taken, Beavis and Butt-Head return to Highland High School in search of their own true dream: “scoring” with whoever might have them… Beavis and Butt-Head Do the Universe doesn’t fully capitalize on a wealth of possible plots, send-ups, and diversions, but it makes a case for the dynamically dumb duo to return for still more inane wackiness (hehehehe, “wack”). Certain things don’t go out of fashion, and that includes dim BFFs with a panache for finding themselves at the nexus of crucial events in human history. We’ve missed you two, come back soon.

In his review for The Hollywood Reporter, Daniel Fienberg praises Judge’s ability to upscale the series in a way that allows it to work at feature length:

Over three decades with these characters, Judge has developed a pretty solid sense of scale. Like 1996’s Beavis and Butt-Head Do America, Beavis and Butt-Head Do the Universe actually feels designed for a feature-length running time, rather than a padded 22-minute TV episode. The plot, in which Beavis and Butt-Head’s desire to get laid leads them on a journey across space, time, and Texas, is full of complications and sufficiently justifiable narrative detours, including a university and a prison. Although there isn’t some gigantic leap forward in the quality of the animation, there are actual set pieces, like an extended climactic car chase, and no shortage of wonderfully silly musical montages. It’s all forward-moving plot, too. Like the earlier movie, this isn’t a vehicle for commenting on videos or MTV programming.

Time’s Stephanie Zacharek appreciates how little Beavis and Butt-Head have changed over the years, even though the rest of us certainly have:

Judge knows exactly what he’s doing; Beavis and Butt-Head the show was both satire and straightforward celebration of the mighty id, with the two so intricately entwined you couldn’t tell which was which. So much has changed in 25 years, but Beavis and Butt-Head haven’t. Guilelessness is hard to come by today, in comedy or anywhere; we’re all so damn knowing all the time. The joy of Beavis and Butt-Head Do the Universe is that these two haven’t gotten the memo. It’s true, they know no greater amusement than kicking one another in the ‘nads… But they’re their own worst enemies. The joke is always on them. And they roll with every gag, eluding any attempt at rehabilitation or redemption. As cartoons, they’re free in ways we never could, or should, be. May they always have a bounteous supply of TP for their bungholes.

For AA Dowd at The Guardian, the duo’s unchanging nature is fundamental to their attraction, even if the end product falls short of the mark:

Beavis and Butt-Head don’t actually grow in Do the Universe. They can’t grow. Their entire utility as satirical figures hinges on their irreformable numbskullery, the impossibility of changing or teaching or rehabilitating them. Thankfully, the time away hasn’t diminished the smart-dumb comedic value of their personas; watching this latest revival, fans will probably match them chuckle for chuckle. A better sequel, though, might have found more meaningful tension between these timelessly dumb kids and the ongoing dumbing down of the America they’ve been thrust into. Heh heh, we said thrust.

And Screen Crush’s Matt Singer thinks the movie is well worth a punt on streaming, but does argue that the duo’s bit hasn’t aged perfectly:

Still, even if Beavis and Butt-Head Do the Universe doesn’t quite achieve its full potential, and the overall package feels a little archaic in 2022, it does land a bunch of big laughs. And that’s where the calculus of streaming comes in. Would I recommend this movie if you had to spend $18 in a theater to see it? Probably not. But the film is streaming on Paramount+, where a subscription will run you ten bucks a month — and if you’ve never signed up before, you can get the first month free.

“Beavis and Butt-Head do the Universe” is a Paramount+ release of an MTV Entertainment Studios and Titmouse production. Matthew Mahoney produced with executive producers Mike Judge, Lew Morton, Michael Rotenberg, Chris Prynoski, Shannon Prynoski, Ben Kalina, and Antonio Canobbio. The film was directed by John Rice and Albert Calleros from a screenplay by Judge and Morton.