Thursday, September 6, 2012

Random 90's Animation - "Beavis and Butt-Head Do America!"

You can say what you will about the 1990's, but one of the best things about that long, strange decade was this: the animated feature films of the time were incredibly diverse, and it was also a fantastic time for boundary-pushing animation

Soon after their debut on Mtv in 1993, "Beavis and Butt-head" quickly became the most-loathed fictional characters in the history of television.  Perhaps it was the fact that the humor and animation wasn't always the most sophisticated in the world.  Maybe it was the taint of controversy: the duo were blamed for inspiring copycats (the stigma still stuck even when it was revealed that the children in question had never even seen the show).  Or maybe it is because we tend to forget or ignore that -and you must trust the person who spent a couple of very long years as a substitute high school teacher- we have all met teenaged boys like this.

Point is, when "Beavis and Butt-Head Do America" (fantastic title, that) arrived in theaters, it meant that a lot of Serious Movie Critics who would have never voluntarily sat down and watch Mike Judge's series would have to deal directly with these characters.  And if you go back and read their old reviews from the time, make sure you take a shot when you run into the inevitable variation of "I can't believe I actually liked it!"

(Side-note: As with "Gumby: The Movie", it's hard to say if "Beavis and Butt-head Do America" is a good introduction to the characters or not, since the format of the film diverges so wildly from what these characters usually do.  A bit of research online reveals that longtime fans of the show are polarized on the feature film, though people who weren't big fans of the series like it just fine.) 

It was hard to watch this movie without all that in my mind, and that's too bad.  Because "Beavis and Butt-Head Do America" is screamingly hilarious.  Honestly, I think it's Mike Judge's funniest feature film.  If you think about it, every movie he has made is like a thesis statement on how obnoxious people are a pain to have to deal with (in particular, "Idiocracy" practically underlines this in red crayon.)  The difference here is that Judge has at least a little bit of affection for Beavis and Butt-head, and it's much more fun to see how the various people they meet deal with two goofballs who are only vaguely aware that they're not watching television than it is to cringe along with the only sensible person in a world of fools.  Dare I say it but there are even a few scenes that are, in their own weird way, downright moving.

The film is a bit episodic but that actually works in it's favor, as Beavis and Butt-head are funnier in small doses.  The guest voices are enthusiastic and very very funny (Cloris Leachman being the top show-stealer), and the songs are terrific.  The animation doesn't stray too far from the television series' style, aside from a fantastic nightmare inspired by Rob Zombie that's over much too soon.

Now with that said, this film is very definitely a product of it's time (it's also, strangely, the first film so far in our marathon I can say this about.)  I found it very very funny, but I can't imagine what a kid who doesn't remember the Clinton years would think of it.  Heck, there are scenes that are strangely poignant simply because they are evidence of a much simpler time; there is no way either of Cornholio's shenanigans would fly today.  I can also see how this would easily be a terrible, mediocre live-action monstrosity if made today, but let's not even go there.

Next, we get to the film that might just be the high point of this entire project!


Go check out the second Pop Culture Gallery over at "Art Evolved"!


Sketch of the Day!

Horses at Pineland Farm.

8.24.12 - Pineland Farm Sketches

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