Beavis and Butt-Head Do America – Blu-ray Review
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Film Title: Beavis and Butt-Head Do America (1996)
Release Date: 2021
Runtime: 80 minutes
Region Coding: Region Free
Audio Format: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1
Aspect Ratio(s): 1.78:1
Version Reviewed: 2021 Blu-ray
Blu-ray Release Date: 12/7/21
Directors: Mike Judge, Brian Mulroney, Yvette Kaplan
Voice Cast: Mike Judge, Bruce Willis, Demi Moore, Cloris Leachman, Robert Stack, David Letterman, Richard Linklater, Greg Kinnear
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Movie | Video | Audio | Bonus | Closing | Screenshots
Full Blu-ray Tech Specs at bottom
“Beavis and Butt-Head Do America” from 1996 was an animated major motion picture based on the characters “Beavis and Butt-Head” created by Mike Judge. The characters first premiered on an MTV show called “Liquid Television” in short form and then later received their own TV series (also on MTV) which ran from 1993 to 1997, for 7 seasons, before ending briefly and then returning for an eighth season back in 2011.
So, like, umm, things start out in a big way, but I’m not going to ruin it for you if you haven’t seen it yet, but ah hell, there’s a “King Kong vs. Godzilla” type battle between the boys going on. It’s like, umm, of course not real. You know, just like fantasy, or more specifically a daydream, but it makes for a really cool way to start a full-length major motion picture for two slacker dumbass characters from a kickass TV show. Yes, I called them dumbasses. They are dumbasses. That’s what we all love about Beavis and Butt-Head and we have loved that about them, ever since that first 1992 “Frog Baseball” short on “Liquid Television” on MTV, back in the day. There’s just something about these two mischievous little dudes and all the shit they manage to get into.
Sorry, I strayed off there, but honestly just to really discuss the characters for a second. Anyway, let’s get back to things and (appropriately enough) come back to reality. After that larger-than-life opening scene, we find out the guys have been sitting asleep on the couch, dreaming their lives away, and their most precious device (as is for most of us these days) is missing. The device missing? Their TV!!! No!! What are they going to watch music videos and crappy TV shows on? That’s just too much, dude.
So, now missing a TV in front of them as they sit clueless on the couch, they think really hard and they end up looking around and trying to find a replacement TV. Yeah, they don’t try to find the people who stole their TV. Along the way, they manage to come across this dude named “Muddy” (voiced by Bruce Willis) in a hotel room with a TV, who isn’t too eager to let them have it. But, like get this, he is instead offering them a job: to “do” his wife. Don’t laugh too hard, too soon, if you haven’t seen this. He actually wants them to “off” his wife “Dallas” (voiced by Demi Moore) though, and by that I mean like put a hit out on her to be killed. And, what’s even funnier is that she’s one beautiful lady at that — as the boys learn from a photograph he gives them.
And off Beavis and Butt-Head go with two plane tickets and he drops them off at the airport, with the two boys bound for Las Vegas to meet up with his wife. When they manage to get to Vegas, she decides to turn things around let’s just say to avoid dishing out any “spoilers” or such. The two become involved in a matter of national security when they cross the paths of these two wanted felons, Muddy and Dallas Grimes. That’s when the ATF and FBI become involved and the most intrusive of men is sent to handle the job, “Agent Flemming” (voiced by Robert Stack). He’s got it out to find these two who he considers an actual threat to national security — but for rightful reasons — minus the cavity searches. What’s not to love?
Movie Rating: 4.75 (out of 5)
“Beavis and Butt-Head Do America” on Blu-ray Disc is presented in the 1.78:1 aspect ratio here, despite IMDb stating that the originally intended aspect ratio shown in theaters was 1.85:1. That means that they forgot to basically frame things up slightly differently where you would have got tiny black bars at the top and bottom of the screen in 1.85:1, but instead, it just fills an entire 16×9 display in the 1.78:1 aspect ratio. Honestly, the average fan of this film isn’t going to even know or notice this. In fact, I saw this film theatrically back in 1996 on release day and I had forgotten that it was originally in the aforementioned aspect ratio. This works fine in 1.78:1 and I by no means am harping on that, but I just wanted to clarify that for the real sticklers for detail out there. Moving on.
This movie was hand-drawn, which was quite rare for 1996 when it was released, and put on 35mm film for the original theatrical showings. It has been transferred here in what appears to be a 2K scan or digital telecine.
This release comes on a BD-25 (25 gigabytes single layer) Blu-ray Disc. To get even rather a bit more technical for a moment here, the film itself is using 17.5 gigabytes itself out of the 20.45 GB total used entirely on the disc. Hand-drawn animation can use a bit more sometimes than this, depending on the amount of film grain and the actual bandwidth that the disc space itself allows for. So, it’s not at all uncommon to see an animated film of any sort with a file size this small.
From the very opening of the film, after the MTV Films logo, you’ll notice that there’s a nice amount of film grain preserved here throughout each and every single frame of animation. There are some occasional bits of dirt and other debris that have been left in this transfer and I find it to be very cool, honestly, in a theatrical sense. There’s a reason why that personally means a lot to me, considering that I saw this movie when it was in theaters. However, that’s something that I think everyone longs for or expects out of a home video presentation in whatever format that it may be.
The amount of detail here, most especially in comparison to the original DVD release, is rather impressive and this boasts a solid presentation from start to finish. There’s a couple of scenes that used computer animation here, such as a short dance scene involving the boys in Las Vegas. It all looks great here in HD and is able to show more than ever before and gets us as close as we can get to a theatrical visual experience. The colors are bright, the black level is solid, with those deep dark outlines really help to make the animation stand out and feel more cinematic than the TV show. I don’t see really any pixelation or block noise or any signs of compression here and I feel that this is using enough of the BD-25 that the studio has opted for. Should it have received a BD-50 to get a bit higher of a video bitrate, considering its sharing space with a bit of DVD ported extras in SD? Yes, it honestly should have but it works fine and I’m just happy to have it on the format in this level of quality.
All and all, this offers (as mentioned) a solid high-def video presentation and has its impressive moments for sure. That all being said, in its debut, “Beavis and Butt-Head Do America” on Blu-ray earns itself a 4.25 rating for video quality.
Video Quality Rating: 4.25 (out of 5)
Audio here, on the Blu-ray Disc debut of “Beavis and Butt-Head Do America,” comes in DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 lossless surround sound. That’s a nice improvement over the lossy AC3 Dolby Digital 5.1 that we’ve had over the years to settle for on DVD.
So, the film starts up [as some might remember] with a very impressive musical score that makes great use of the rear channel speakers while being primarily driven from the front left and right channel speakers. It comes with a nice amount of bass and LFE, and then you start to add in the sound effects and you’ll really be feeling and hearing things via the subwoofer as well. Dialogue, during even this intense action, is delivered spot-on from the center channel and is never overpowered (or drowned out) by any of the action or music.
It’s a very solid and at times impressive lossless 5.1 surround sound mix, folks. This movie always had a big and impressive sound in theaters and Mike Judge put a lot of effort into getting that original music score by John Frizzell as well as the rights to songs on the soundtrack from artists like AC/DC and White Zombie. All of the rock music sounds great here in lossless form.
This isn’t the type of sound mix that you would honestly think merits perhaps a 5.1 mix but it actually has one that might get the neighbors attention, depending on how nice of a home theater you have. That says a lot for a “Beavis and Butt-Head” movie if it can deliver that impressive of a sound presentation. Having said this, in its debut to Blu-ray the film earns itself a respectable 4.25 rating for audio quality. Look at the screenshot (above) that I chose for this section and you’ll truly know what I mean.
Audio Quality Rating: 4.25 (out of 5)
Bonus materials on this release are presented in SD (480i/p standard definition) video quality with Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo.
A Digital Copy of the film (in 1080p HD) is included here via a paper insert that is compatible with iTunes (AppleTV) and Vudu. I opted for iTunes and got the film in HD with the trailer and zero extras digitally.
The bonus materials here on the Blu-ray include:
- Audio Commentary by co-directors Mike Judge and Yvette Kaplan. This features optional English or French subtitles. Mike Judge reminds you that this was actually the first MTV Film and was the first time you saw the astronaut fly by as the logo — for an MTV film. This is a must-hear for any fan if you never listened to it on the previous DVD. The most hilarious part of this commentary is when Mike Judge says a casting director wasn’t aware he did most all of the voices and was trying to cast big actors for “Beavis,” “Butt-Head,” and even “Tom Anderson.” Too funny. Not so funny to Mike at first, but he learned to laugh about it later. There’s also a fun fact for “King of the Hill” fans here, Mike’s show that came after this. Also, one of my favorite things you learn here is that Mike Judge was a huge fan of the “Charlie Brown” [“Peanuts”] holiday specials and he paid some homage to that along the way. Namely the dancing the kids did in the Christmas special, he says slightly inspired a dance Beavis & Butt-Head do in the film. Mike also admits that the 1978 AC/DC song “Gone Shootin” (used in the film) was actually what inspired the TV show’s theme song. Again, this is a must-hear. You probably can tell I watched the whole film again with this commentary and I totally suggest you do as well.
- The Big Picture (22 minutes, 42 seconds – SD) is your basic “making of” featurette. This comes from the original DVD release, as do all of the extras here. This includes interviews with Mike Judge (creator, co-director, co-writer, producer, and voice talent), Van Toffler (president of MTV Networks), David Gale (executive producer/executive VP of MTV Films), Yvette Kaplan (animator director), Kristofor Brown (script consultant/voice supervisor), Cloris Leachman (Martha), and Robert Stack (ATF Agent Flemming). The craziest thing you’ll learn from this is that they had numerous offers to do movies long before this, even were pitched a live-action movie idea with two specific actors attached which made no sense. You’ll also get to see some behind-the-scenes at the art for the animation being created as well as some of the voice talents recording their parts. Fun fact: none of the voice actors in this film were ever in the same room together with the exception of Mike Judge and some of the talent.
- We’re Gonna Score! Scoring Beavis and Butt-Head Do America (10 minutes, 57 seconds – SD) focuses on the original musical score composed for the film: something that the TV Show never had. This includes interviews with Mike Judge (producer, writer, director) and John Frizzell (composer). This is downright excellent and you’ll learn a lot about some hidden things in the music. I won’t spoil it for you, like IMDb, but let’s just say the music in a church being sung has some pretty interesting lyrics. Elmer Bernstein did give the composer here, John Frizzell, the right advice when he asked the composer for advice.
- The Smackdown (2 minutes, 33 seconds – SD) is just a compilation of mostly “Butt-Head” or someone else just smacking things or people all throughout the film and a little roughhousing or whatnot is thrown in for good measure. Boys will be boys. This makes for one damn funny mashup. This is like the short version of the film for people who just like to see violence and explosions and stuff. So, pretty much everyone who watched the film will want to watch this too.
- MTV News Celebrity Shorts, hosted by Kurt Loder during a “Moron-a-thon” marathon for the TV Show in promotional spots for the upcoming film. Two of the celebrities here might not have even known who they were talking about and that just makes it all even more fun. These consist of the following celebrities discussing the characters:
- Jennifer Tilly (1 minute, 8 seconds – SD)
- Steve Buscemi (1 minute, 38 seconds – SD)
- Snoop Dogg (48 seconds – SD)
- Trailers include:
- Teaser Trailer 1 (35 seconds – SD)
- Teaser Trailer 2 (46 seconds – SD)
- TV Spots (6 minutes, 10 seconds – SD) thankfully has a “play all” function, as they total up to twelve total short commercial spots. These mostly at first feature Mike Judge in live-action as a typical director on a movie set with “Beavis and Butt-Head” in animated form. But, then you get some that are actual clips from the film.
Overall the bonus materials here are just the DVD extras ported over and all are presented in SD (standard definition). There’s no new content and they were unable to even get the rights to add anything like music videos for songs from the soundtrack — namely “Rollercoaster of Love” performed by a band I might have to pay royalties to name. It’s still a good set of supplemental material and holds up to the test of time.
Bonus Materials Rating: 2.25 (out of 5)
“Beavis and Butt-Head Do America” from 1996 was a damn good film. Sure, it’s not “Citizen Kane,” “Paddington,” or “Gone with the Wind” (but “frankly,” dude, “I don’t give a damn!”), or “The Wizard of Oz,” or dare I say as great as two other Mike Judge films: “Office Space” or “Idiocracy.” But, it’s still damn-near if not perfect. Hell, even the late, great Roger Ebert and Gene Siskel both gave this film “two thumbs up” back in the day, and that’s the damn truth. In fact, that’s actually cited on front of the DVD that I have of the film. That says something! I miss those two just as much as these two fictional characters they even enjoyed. I just wanted to say that, on a side note. Moving on.
The film holds up 25 years later extremely well with a great voice cast aside from just Mike Judge with the late, great Robert Stack in one unforgettably intrusive role, as well as Greg Kinnear as his second in command or more like a sidekick. The most unforgettable voice cast member here was the late, great Cloris Leachman. Her character and Beavis have one relationship that you’d only find on “The Golden Girls.”
Plus, I mean, c’mon Bruce Willis and his at-the-time wife Demi Moore playing a husband and wife out to kill one other. What is not to love, there?! This movie is just a blast from start to finish, for fans of the show and just anyone who is looking for a great laugh at what some will call lowbrow humor. I call it funny as all hell and I also was lucky enough to see this film back in 1996 in theaters with my mother, of all people. That’s a memory I’ll never forget.
In terms of video quality, this offers a solid HD presentation with all of the film grain and such you would [or did] see during the original theatrical showing back in 1996. There’s a very nice amount of detail here that you never saw on the previous DVD release(s) of the film over the years. Visually, this in 1080p HD does the hand-drawn animation here as much justice as it can. That said, it’s definitely worth seeing in HD if you never have before.
In terms of audio quality, this starts out with some excellent music composed by John Frizzell and excellent sound effects that will really make immediate use of your surround sound system. You’ll be feeling the action and surrounded by the music. Plus, there’s a lot of kickass music on this movie’s soundtrack that is sure to leave you somewhat impressed. Dialogue is spot-on. It’s a good 5.1 lossless mix and a definite improvement over the previous Dolby Digital 5.1 [AC3] lossy sound mix found on the DVD.
The bonus materials here are just the previous DVD extras ported over in SD (standard definition). Sadly, they couldn’t get the rights to include some new stuff like the music videos to songs from the excellent soundtrack. Perhaps someday this film will get a collector’s edition and Mike Judge will have some involvement but until then, this is the best set of extras you’ll find for the film.
In terms of Blu-ray release, this gets:
4.25 (out of 5) for video quality
4.25 (out of 5) for audio quality
2.25 (out of 5) for bonus materials
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2021 Paramount Blu-ray Release