Beavis and Butt-Head Do America appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1 on this single-sided, double-layered DVD; the image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. Although I didn’t expect visual fireworks from America, the transfer came as a moderate disappointment.
Sharpness created no concerns, however. The movie displayed consistently good delineation and accuracy. No problems with softness materialized at any point. Jagged edges and shimmering appeared absent, and I noticed no edge enhancement. Source flaws were more of a distraction. The movie often looked rather grainy, and that lent a feeling of murkiness to much of the flick. I also detected more than a few specks, marks and bits of debris. The transfer wasn’t consistently dirty, but it needed some clean-up work done to improve it.
Colors tended to be somewhat flat. Some of that stemmed from the graininess, as that factor dimmed the vivacity of the tones. In any case, the hues were decent but never much better than that. Blacks seemed acceptably deep and dense, but shadows were also marred by the graininess. They usually looked a bit drab and thick. This was a watchable image but not a memorable one.
On the other hand, the Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack of Do America worked surprisingly well. I didn’t think it’d be very interesting, but the audio added a lot of pizzazz to the package. The smattering of big sequences sounded the most impressive. The opening dream scene used all five channels to very good effect, and other shots – like on the plane or at Hoover Dam or Beavis’s drug trip – were equally as involving. The surrounds brought us into the scenarios well and created a solid setting for the action.
Less action-oriented bits were strong as well. Music showed fine stereo imaging, and effects formed a good sense of atmosphere. Elements popped up in appropriately spots and meshed together well.
Audio quality was also pretty solid. Although “Love Rollercoaster” lacked great depth, it was clear, and the rest of the music sounded lively and dynamic. Speech seemed concise and crisp; I noticed no edginess or other problems. Effects came across as clean and accurate. They presented solid power when necessary and added zest to the set. This was a very nice little soundtrack.
For this “Special Collector’s Edition” of Do America, we find a moderate assortment of extras. These open with an audio commentary from director/writer/actor Mike Judge and animation director Yvette Kaplan. Both sit together for this running, screen-specific discussion. The track looks at various influences and inspirations for characters and events, recording the various actors, cuts and changes made along the way, the score, and a few animation-related topics.
If you hope for a concise examination of the film’s creation, you won’t find it here. We really don’t learn a ton about the movie from that point of view, but Judge pours on so many good related anecdotes that I doubt you’ll care. He tosses out many fun stories such as his family connection to Cloris Leachman, dealing with an executive who wanted him to recast many voices, the use of “Lesbian Seagull” and a ton of other topics. Kaplan pretty much comes along for the ride, though she offers her own interesting tale about how she initially reacted to the score. This is a fun and engaging track despite some drawbacks.
Next comes a featurette called The Big Picture. This 22-minute and 41-second piece mixes movie snippets, archival materials and remarks from Judge, Kaplan, MTV Networks president Van Toffler, executive producer/MTV Films executive VP David Gale, script consultant/voice supervisor Kristofor Brown, and actors Robert Stack and Cloris Leachman. “Picture” looks at how B&B got onto MTV and then moved to the big screen, animation topics, story and character issues, cast and performances, music and pressure to put videos in the flick, the movie’s reception and its aftermath.
Inevitably, some material repeats from the commentary. In particular, Judge presents a few of the same stories. Nonetheless, we get a fair amount of good fresh information. I wouldn’t call this a detailed piece but it presents a decent overview of some movie-related topics.
For a look at the movie’s music, we head to the 10-minute and 56-second We’re Gonna Score! Scoring Beavis and Butt-Head Do America. It features Judge and composer John Frizzell. We learn about Frizzell’s relationship with Elmer Bernstein and its impact on the score. From there he discusses his musical choices and other issues related to the score and songs. Frizzell even reveals the lyrics to the chant heard during the flick, and we get to hear Beavis’s backward speech during his hallucination played forward. Frizzell helps inform us about his work in this fun and incisive program.
The final featurette comes via The Smackdown. The two-minute and 32-second piece stands as a cheap kind of music video. It takes many violent moments from the flick and plays tunes over them. It’s not very interesting.
A few promos finish the set. We get three MTV News Celebrity Shorts. These feature Jennifer Tilly (67 seconds), Steve Buscemi (98 seconds) and Snoop Dogg (49 seconds). These appeared during a “Moronathon” of B&B episodes that ran before Do America opened. The participants talk about their “interactions” with B&B. They’re interesting for archival reasons but they’re not particularly amusing.
Two teaser trailers appear along with 12 TV Spots. These offer more than just movie clips, so they’re a lot of fun to watch, especially when we see Judge “direct” B&B. The DVD opens with some Previews. We get ads for the Beavis and Butthead “Mike Judge Collection”, Nacho Libre and Tommy Boy, Failure to Launch and Totally Awesome.
Nothing in Beavis and Butt-Head Do America will win over folks without an affection for the titular pair – heh heh, I said “tit!” - but it’ll amuse the rest of us. It’s basically a long, somewhat more elaborate episode, and that’s fine with me. It always entertains and delights. The DVD presents average picture, but audio is quite good and we find a few good extras. I definitely recommend this release for B&B fans.