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Beavis and Butthead Do America: Special Collector's Edition

After Beavis and Butthead became a huge hit for MTV in the early 90's many viewers would get drunk and run around with their tee-shirts pulled over their heads like cowls and yell "I need TP for my bunghole!" and thus was born a pair of cultural icons. MTV and Creator Mike Judge took his two pathetic idiots to the big screen in 1996 in Beavis and Butthead Do America. I never thought I would feel nostalgic about the 90's, but watching this movie again made me wistfully recall when crude animation combined with crude humor was more innocent. In Beavis and Butthead do America friends Beavis and Butthead (both voiced by Mike Judge) suffer a tragic loss when their television is stolen. They set out to find their beloved TV and get embroiled with two small-time arms smugglers (Bruce Willis and Demi Moore), end up in Las Vegas, and begin a series of adventures across the United States in hopes of scoring as they head towards Washington D.C. with some help from a kindly old lady (Cloris Leachman). All the while they are totally oblivious to an overzealous A.T.F agent/grammar nazi and his assistant on their tails (voiced by Robert Stack and an uncredited Greg Kinnear). Their senior citizen neighbor Tom Anderson (Mike Judge) pops up from time to time to receive abuse like he traditionally took on the television show.

It has been ten years since this movie has been released and now it seems so tame. But as I watched it the second time while listening to the commentary (more on that below), I started to re-appreciate those two dumbasses. The power of the original series was its ability to point out and make you laugh at everything that is stupid and banal in both yourself and everything else, something Mike Judge has an incredibly sharp eye for (both Office Space and the M.I.A. Idiocracy have similar themes). I was a teen-ager when MTV went on the air and I'm ashamed to admit how many hours I wasted watching all those videos. Viewing this movie again brought my shame all back as these two travel through America desperate to be reunited with their beloved television, oblivious to her grandeur and majesty in places like the Grand Canyon and Hoover Dam (but appreciating the automatic urinals and enjoying the sight of a pooing donkey). Beavis and Butthead always represented all that is dumbness in us and our lives and the movie succeeds in bringing them to the big screen for some good laughs. This new release contains no differences in sound or picture, just to warn those who are thinking about double-dipping. The biggest difference is the first DVD release in 1999 had almost nada in the way of extra features except theatrical trailers. I had a feeling when I bought the 10th anniversary edition that I was going to enjoy the extras more than the movie itself which turned out to be true. I was most interested in listening to the commentary featuring Mike Judge (and animation director Yvette Kaplan) and it is the best extra feature. Their conversation features some filler and a little annoying 'shop talk' (define some of those esoteric terms for us non-animating schlubs, please) but I enjoyed the anecdotes about the origination of some of the characters, getting the movie made, and how some of the voice roles were cast.

I like most of the rest of the features as well - they help round out and explain the phenomenon that was Beavis and Butthead as well as allow those of us who think Mike Judge is a genius a peek into his thinking processes - he actually comes across as ordinary and laid back. I was expecting someone more cynical and bitter with all the uphill battles he's had getting some of his work produced since Beavis and Butthead. Some of the features are simply filler but this new release is still a good step up from the original DVD. Overall I would say this rerelease is justified.

Beavis and Butthead do America for me has a certain nostalgia value and for that reason alone I'm glad I bought it. It not only evokes a certain time of my life but it is also one of the last (if not the last) hand-drawn full-length animated feature films ever released. I'm one of those people who thought the show was wickedly funny, but time has made the show and this movie lose some edge. But still, all Beavis and Butthead ever wanted to do was watch TV and try to score. They never made chili out of an enemy's parents nor did they ever try to kill their mothers. I miss those dillweeds.