The future becomes the now in “Beavis and Butt-Head Do the Universe,” the animated comedy directed by John Rice and Albert Calleros, and streaming on Paramount+. The year is 1998, and through an incendiary set of circumstances, the endlessly chortling animated MTV miscreants originally created (and still voiced) by Mike Judge are brought on to help engineer a NASA space station docking mission. In their own minds, their tale is one of “two heroes on a quest to score.”
The mission fails spectacularly, and Beavis and Butt-Head are sucked into a black hole (you can imagine their reaction to this prospect), then dropped into Texas circa 2022. The once-idealistic astronaut Serena Ryan (Andrea Savage), with whom the fellows had hoped to hook up, is now a cynical politician desirous of their death. An intelligent alternate-universe version of the pair tries to steer the idiots to a portal to prevent cosmic destruction.
The spectacle of Beavis and Butt-Head coming to grips with today’s technology is funnier than bits in other movies where seniors try to do the same. Beavis, always the more sensitive member (heh-heh, I said “member”) of the two, gets further in touch with his feelings when he mistakes the virtual assistant Siri for Serena.
“A satirical comment on the times,” Smart Beavis observes of a pointed utterance by Smart Butt-Head. Having now spent almost three decades concocting pop-culture satire both trenchant and profane, Judge probably understands that the actual utility of such work is practically nil. Maybe that’s why this film, a zippy academia-tweaking scene notwithstanding, is less expansive in its sociological purview than the 1996 movie “Beavis and Butt-Head Do America.”
“Do the Universe” knows it won’t change the world, or precincts outside it. But the abundance of not entirely cheap laughs that this movie — which is best watched over a plate of nachos — delivers is therapeutic.
Beavis and Butt-Head Do the Universe
Not rated. Running time: 1 hour 24 minutes. Watch on Paramount+.