A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this cartoon-feature spinoff of the Beavis and Butt-head MTV cartoon finds its humor in bad role models -- two loutish, ugly, TV-addicted, heavy-metal boys fixated on sex (which they never get to have, though there are plenty of masturbation references), and shallow thrills. Expect innuendo, about "scoring," and "sluts" and gag imagery of big-breasted women (onscreen sex only happens between consenting birds). References to homosexuality include the song "Lesbian Seagull." Beavis gets high with both prescription pills and desert peyote cactus. Both kids drink alcohol. Language is at PG-13 level, mainly with double-entendres and variations on words ending in "-hole." There's cartoon violence, mainly in silly fantasy scenes (an opening with B&B as Starsky and Hutch-level cop heroes). FBI and authority figures come across as clueless or ineffective. Young people watching may be encouraged to view more Beavis-Butthead antics in the original short-subject form, which sometimes had animal cruelty and pyromania (less prominent here).
What's the story?
This was the first feature outing for MTV cartoon characters Beavis and Butt-head -- actually caricatures of the worst-case-scenario of the channel's music-video fans: two unsupervised, low-IQ, no-achieving boyhood pals with limited vocabularly who mainly just sit and watch TV and categorize everything they see into "cool" or "sucks." Here Beavis and Butt-head (both voiced by creator Mike Judge) wake up to find their precious television stolen. Going door to door at a motel in search of some way to see Baywatch, the duo are mistaken for bargain-rate assassins by a redneck weapons-dealer (Bruce Willis), who gives them plane tickets to Las Vegas to "do" his treacherous wife (Demi Moore). B&B, naturally, assume their job is to have sex with the woman. Their trashy target fools the boys into proceeding cross-country towards Washington D.C., fugitives from an FBI team hunting a top-secret germ-warfare agent that has been secretly sewn into Beavis' shorts.
Is it any good?
Beavis and Butt-head are probably better suited for tweens than their R-rated (and smarter) live-action counterparts, the drug-fixated Harold and Kumar. Parents and teachers hated early Beavis and Butt-head cartoons, which had animal cruelty, setting fires, and other anarchic behavior as crudely animated (if sometimes hilarious) gags. Filmmaker Mike Judge, with later work like King of the Hill and The Goode Family, proved he could do (he-he, we said "do") subtle, quirky, and touching humor on human nature, and if you judge these two characters by that standard it's clear they're not supposed to be glorified heroes in any traditional sense. Yes, they're OK in the end, but they never "score," they learn nothing, and the movie kind of suggests that the whole society is on a treadmill to idiocy too; these guys just got there first.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the appeal of Beavis and Butt-head. What makes these louts funny? Where is the line between funny and offensive?
What other characters in TV and movies are meant to be laughed at for their stupidity? Which characters are the funniest? Which ones miss the mark?
- In theaters: December 20, 1996
- On DVD or streaming: September 12, 2006
- Cast: Bruce Willis, Demi Moore, Mike Judge
- Director: Mike Judge
- Studio: Paramount Pictures
- Genre: Comedy
- Run time: 81 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG-13
- MPAA explanation: continuous crude sex-related humor and language, and for a drug-related scene.
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.