Beavis and Butt-head Do America

Tucson Weekly

DIRECTED BY: Mike Judge

REVIEWED: 12-19-96

BEAVIS AND BUTTHEAD creator Mike Judge remembers watching Looney Toons as a kid.

"There was a show in Albuquerque called Captain Billy," Judge recalls. "He was a local guy and he'd show cartoons and you'd go there for your birthday and he got shot because he was fooling around with someone else's wife. I remember my mom trying to explain it to me. I was asking her, 'Why did he get shot?' And she goes, 'Maybe he was just hugging her to say, "good job," and someone walked in and saw it and shot him.' "

Given this childhood trauma, it's no wonder this clean-cut 33-year-old grew up to create two of the most twisted and subversive characters in the history of animation, Beavis and Butthead, whose moronic escapades hit the big screen Friday, December 20.

Beavis and Butthead Do America takes the dimwitted duo on a cross-country destructive spree with the ATF in hot pursuit. I could explain how and why, but who really gives a crap? This is Beavis and Butthead we're talking about, so all that plot stuff doesn't really matter. Rest assured, the movie has enough idiotic moments to please any Beavis and Butthead fan--but then, Beavis and Butthead fans have pretty low standards.

The series' success has amazed even Judge, a former engineer who was strumming a bass in a bar band in Dallas when he began trying his hand at animation. Somewhere along the line, two little fartknockers took shape in his imagination.

"It started out as a two-minute short I did, Frog Baseball, and when I finished that, I thought people would like it," says Judge, who sent the cartoon to MTV's Liquid Television. Three weeks later, MTV VP Abby Terkuhule told Judge he wanted to see more of these bungholes.

"I remember Abby saying, 'We've got to air this. That's really our audience,' " Judge says.

In 1992, Beavis and Butthead premiered on MTV, almost immediately becoming a megahit.

"That blew me away--it was a dream come true just to get something on Liquid Television," Judge says with a laugh. "Y'know, I was just working out of my house in Dallas. Everything surprised me. I never would have predicted the cover of Rolling Stone and that kind of thing."

The show allows Judge to satirize the very medium which has made him rich and famous--music video.

"These bands in these videos take themselves so seriously--they're up there in all their majesty doing this thing and the reality is, their audience is 15-year-olds with braces," says Judge, whose greatest contribution to the history of animation may be Beavis' high-blood-sugared, TP-seeking alter-ego, Cornholio. If you've seen the classic "The Great Cornholio," you know what he needs the TP for.

"I wanted to do something with what would happen to Beavis if Butthead's just not around--without Butthead to reel him in, he would just get further and further off the deep end," Judge says. "Then I was lying asleep one night and it just hit me like a ton of bricks that Beavis just pulls his T-shirt over his head and gets all wound up and starts babbling.

"I think I did it a couple of times when I was a kid," Judge slowly confesses. "When I was a kid, I used to...kinda to annoy my brother and sister...I used to...this is really weird...I used to follow my sister around talking in this weird foreign accent. You know, Albuquerque, middle of the summer, nothing to do."

Judge found a full-length motion picture posed greater challenges than the normal 15-minute 'toon.

"It's kind of tricky for Beavis and Butthead, because they're really dumb, and when you're writing, you're going, well, they're in the trunk, they can't exactly pick the lock," says Judge, sharing a bit of insight into his creative process. "Well, there's a jack in the trunk...jack...there's a jack-off joke in there somewhere...."

So does the jump to big screen mean the buttmunch boys are getting too big for the tube?

"I think they're too big for TV and I don't want to do TV anymore," Judge admits. "I still have one season on my contract. I'd like to stop doing the show for awhile and take a break from it."

Although he imagines he'll make another B&B movie or specials for MTV, Judge has already begun work on a new animated series, King of the Hill, which debuts on the Fox network next month.

"It's quite a bit different from Beavis and Butthead," Judge says. "The closest thing to it in Beavis and Butthead is Tom Anderson, the old guy. It's kind of like a bunch of bubba types in Texas."

Judge doesn't put much stock in critics who gripe that Beavis and Butthead are harbingers of the decline of American civilization.

"I think there are lot of symbols of decline other than this," Judge says. "Before it was even on the air, Connie Chung did something about how bad TV has gotten, and she said, 'MTV has gone so far as to name one of its new shows Beavis and Butthead.' Of course, she's married to Maury Povich.

"Talk about decline," Judge adds, slipping into Butthead's voice. "When she was fired, I said, 'That's cool.' "

--Jim Nintzel

Full Length Reviews
Beavis and Butt-head Do America

Capsule Reviews
Beavis and Butt-head Do America
Beavis and Butt-head Do America

Other Films by Mike Judge
King of the Hill (tv)
Office Space

Film Vault Suggested Links
Dracula: Dead and Loving It
Spike & Mike's 1998 Classic Festival of Animation
Dumb and Dumber

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