The One-Line Summary: Beavis and Butt-head, two heavy metal music loving, intellectually underwhelming, socially awkward rocker archetypes who seem oblivious to anything other than sexual innuendo, wake up one morning and discover their television set is missing so set out on a quest to find it, ending up mistakenly being hired as hitmen by a man who wants to murder his wife by telling the boys to go “do” her, which in their one-track minds means have sex, and so set off to “score” but end up being framed for the theft of a biological weapon, releasing the water behind Hoover Dam and shutting the power off to Las Vegas, possibly meeting their natural fathers (who are Mötley Crüe roadies) and eventually becoming honorary ATF agents by President Clinton.
The Two-Line Blurb: From Mike Judge (King of the Hill), this movie, based on the MTV series, could be easy to dismissed as crass, ignorant, profane, and stupid, which it is and celebrates gleefully yet also is very clever, smart and a spot-on reflection of the society the characters represent, which is self-absorbed, out-of-touch and obsessed with attitude. The boys are hopelessly out of their element and like rock & roll Forrest Gumps who stumble upon situations and circumstances that are not at all what they think the are yet utterly affect everything they touch.
The Three-Line Set-up: The boys start the film as giants destroying a city but wake from this dream only to see that their most prized possession, their TV, has been stolen, which is traumatizing for them since, as MTV generation kids, mindless TV is the only thing that sustains them. After some trouble getting motivated, they finally decide they should go find it, and eventually end up at a seedy hotel that advertises a TV in every room. There, they stumble into a darkened room where a man seems to be waiting for them.
The Four-Line Moment: Muddy Grimes (Bruce Willis) has contracted a few hitmen to kill his wife Dallas (Demi Moore – at the time, Willis’ real wife) so naturally when Beavis and Butt-Head come in, he believes they are the assassins, even though they are very young and are more interested in the flickering TV monitor than listening to his proposition. He offers them ten thousand dollars, to which they happily agree (thinking they can use the money to buy a new TV) and sends them on their way. The moment is a great example of the film’s premise, which is word play, miscommunication and absurdity, having the heroes be utterly in the dark as to what is happening, chuckling along unaware of the reality around them. Captured in the trademark minimalist style of cartooning that seems crude but is deceptively artistic in rendering the simple palette that both Beavis and Butt-Head exist in, the film is an oddly charming and very satisfying journey.
The Five-Word Review: A snapshot of 90s Americana.