Bill and Ted are non-bogus in their sequel
by Jim Emerson
The Orange County Register
& Ted's Bogus Journey'
Reeves, Alex Winter, William Sadler, Joss Ackland, George Carlin.
the scenes: Directed by Pete Hewitt. Screenplay by Chris
Matheson and Ed Solomon. Cinematography by Oliver Wood.
Production design by David L. Snyder. Music by David Newman.
Opens today in theaters throughout Orange County.
time: 1 hour, 34 minutes
renting: Other films of note featuring Keanu Reeves: "River's
Edge" (1987); "Dangerous Liaisons" (1988); "Bill
& Ted's Excellent Adventure (1989); "Parenthood" (1989);
"I Love You to Death" (1990).
skip: "Youngblood" (1986); The Night Before (1988);
"The Prince of Pennsylvania" (1988).
Bill and Ted
as dead dudes?
Bill and Ted
plummeting -- and plummeting and plummeting -- into their own
twin Bill and Teds from the future whose mission is to subvert the
real Bill and Ted's utopian philosophy ("Be excellent to each
other" and "Party on, dudes!") and ruin their
elaborate, extravagant, non-non-non-heinous sequel to the 1989
low-budget time-travel sleeper hit "Bill & Ted's
Excellent Adventure," our San Dimas hero-dudes take a
Pilgrim's Progress tour of the afterlife, from the depths of hell
("We've been totally lied to by our album covers, man!")
to a colorless, bureaucratic heaven (borrowed from Michael
Powell's classic "Stairway to Heaven").
metal-head Candides, Bill and Ted are true-hearted, optimistic
innocents. They still have the same girlfriends -- the
"princess babes" -- whom they rescued from medieval
England in the first movie. One night, after proposing to
their beloved princess babes, they admit with a bewildered shrug:
"Our girlfriends are most chaste. After we get married,
I wonder if they'll stay over some night."
have such a sweet, childlike view of life that they don't really
know the difference between friends and lovers. They just
like people -- especially pretty babes and rock stars -- and want
these people to like them back.
the princess babes also play instruments -- better than Bill and
Ted -- in the boys' band, Wyld Stallyns. The boys may use
sexist terms such as "babes," but it's only because it's
part of their own private lexicon -- the only language they
understand. There's nothing malicious about it.
A lot of
critics disapproved of the stupidity Bill and Ted (Alex Winter and
Keanu Reeves) displayed in their excellent initial adventure:
Things like pronouncing "Freud" as "Frood" and
"Socrates" as "So-crates."
OK, we all
know Bill and Ted are not bright. They're dim bulbs.
They're dumb. That's a given. But there's more to them
than empty noggins.
& Ted's Excellent Adventure" was irreverently
simpleminded, but it was not an anti-intellectual treatise.
The point is that some wisdom -- "Be excellent to each
other" is just Bill and Ted-ese for The Golden Rule -- isn't
the product of great mental labors, but is a simple truth that's
easy to grasp.
Face it: You
can't help but like these guys. They're so open, naive,
optimistic and full of goodwill for their fellow dudes and babes
that you have to cut them some slack. They'd do the same for
"Bill & Ted's Bogus Journey," directed by Peter
Hewitt and written by original Bill and Ted creators Chris
Matheson and Ed Solomon, an evil dude from the future named De
Nomolos (Joss Ackland) takes over Bill & Ted University and
sends evil twin robot Bill and Teds back in time to 1991 to kill
the real Bill & Ted.
(George Carlin), now a professor emeritus at B&TU, follows
them by anchoring his guitar to the top of their time-traveling
the beginning. Bill and Ted meet the Grim Reaper (William
Sadler, speaking in a very silly Czechoslovakian accent and
dressed in a costume left over from Ingmar Bergman's "The
Seventh Seal") and fool him (or "melvin" him) into
escorting them through heaven and hell and back to San Dimas,
which is somewhere in-between. They also bring with them
some deceased extraterrestrial dudes, called "Stations,"
whom they've met in the Great Beyond.
& Ted's Bogus Journey" doesn't really warm up until the
laugh-out-loud scenes with our boys and Mr. Reaper playing
Battleship for their souls. But it's the kind of movie
that's so disarmingly silly that you find yourself smiling almost
all the way through.
argue that it was a mistake to spend so much money on special
effects and spectacular sets when the protagonists are just two
scruffy teens from San Dimas. But that's just the point: The
concept of two characters as stupid as Bill and Ted starring in a
multi-million-dollar major motion picture is pretty funny in and
of itself, even if it is sort of an in-joke.
technology that makes it possible for Bill and Ted to interact
with their "evil robot us's" also is quite impressive,
but even though the robots look and act like Bill and Ted, they're
not nearly so much fun to watch. After all, we know they've
been programmed to behave this way. Bill and Ted just do it
because they're naturals.
And the evil
robots have a sinister agenda -- there's a heinous intelligence
behind their actions. What makes the real Bill & Ted so
much fun to watch is their innocence and lack of
self-consciousness. After all, these guys believe in
treating everyone in the same ingenuous, friendly, informal
they're such cool dudes.