Back in September last year I finally got around to reviewing Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure. It was one of those films on my to do list. Not that I have an actual list of films I’m meant to be reviewing… well… apart from the one linked at the top that I don’t think I’ve updated for a year. I should do that. Anyway, Excellent Adventure’s sequel, Bogus Journey, was also a film that I’ve been meaning to cover. And today is that day! Which I’d guess you’ve figured out already. Anyway, let’s get on with this.
Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey picks up 2 years after the events of their most excellent adventure. Wyld Stallyns hasn’t become the worldwide success they had envisioned and, to be fair, promised by a bunch of quite righteous future dudes. Mostly this is because they still really can’t play. The princesses from the first film can though. Bill & Ted need to step up their game. Meanwhile… or future while… Chuck De Nomolos (Joss Ackland) has had enough of the most triumphant future that Bill & Ted’s music would one day help shape and has sent truly heinous evil robot version of Bill & Ted back in time to kill the real Wyld Stallyns and then proceed to ruin their lives. It’s up to a now very dead Bill S. Preston Esq (Alex Winter) and Ted “Theodore” Logan (Keanu Reeves) to find a way to get brought back to life, save the princess, defeat the Evil Robot thems and win the San Dimas Battle of the Bands!
That’s quite a plot. Also, notice how they aren’t just doing the exact same thing as before. It would have been so easy to have had another time travel focused adventure, but instead we’ve been given a story that actually expands the rules by which the film’s universe lives. Whilst the first film trod through various points in history allowing for a constantly refreshing scenery change every few minutes as the pair move from the Wild West to medieval England, here we have the pair wandering around as monochromatic ghosts invading a seance, a trip to hell and journey to heaven. There’s robots, aliens and even an evil Easter Bunny (Voiced by Frank Welker). Each of the different segments of the film are presented with enough visual tweaks to set design and lighting, along with the varying situational humour the plot thrusts upon the duo, that there’s always a good sense of forward momentum.
What is probably the film’s most memorable sequence is when Bill & Ted challenge Death (William Sadler) to a game of their choosing in order to be brought back to life. This scene riffs on Ingmar Bergman’s The Seventh Seal beautifully by switching a game of chess for various (at the time) modern games such as Twister and Battleships. It’s a brilliant subversion of one of the most iconic images in cinema history. I do wonder how it plays to anyone unaware of The Seventh Seal, I really can’t remember when I first saw it. I suspect I first watched Seventh Seal after watching Bogus Journey and finding out that this sequence was a parody of that film. I watched some eclectic films as a kid. Death ends up becoming one of the most entertaining new characters in the film thanks to Sadler’s unique take on the character. I kind of think Sadler missed a bit of a calling as a comic actor. This isn’t the only clever classical film reference. There’s a little hidden reference to Powell and Pressberger’s A Matter Of Life And Death to look for.
There is a number of missteps that the film makes, although none are film breaking. There’s a scene where the Evil Robot Bill & Ted kidnap the princesses from Missy’s (Amy Stock-Poynton) house leaving her unconscious after using knock out breath. A few minutes later she has her friends from the earlier séance scene around and they’re all having a jolly good time watching the Battle of the Bands in a miraculously repaired apartment and Missy is showing no sign of the trauma she recently experienced. Especially weird as you’d think she wouldn’t be excited to see her attackers perform on TV moments after the launched themselves through her living room window. Also, Bill & Ted keep using the phrase “None-none-none-none-none heinous” (sometimes with less “nones”) in a negative manner. Heinous means bad. By saying “none-heinous” they are inferring that something is good. This has always bugged the hell out of me. Also, there’s very little for George Carlin’s Rufus to do in this film. Less even than in Excellent Adventure. Oh and Bill & Ted switched girlfriends between films for some reason.
The film’s score is suitably rocking featuring Faith No More, Primus, KISS and a load more. Jim Martin from Faith No More even has a cameo as himself at the start. The increase in rock music, compared to the first film, helps give the film a sound that feels more in keeping with the duo’s musical sensibilities. The film’s score, provided by David Newman, is pretty solid but often forgettable beyond the opening theme which has a few shades of 80s sci-fi to it. It’s functional really and that’s about it.
I’ve always really enjoyed Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey. It’s not quite up to the brilliance of the first film but it is still a damn fine comedy adventure. There really aren’t many films like this that are so subversively brilliant in their humour and so of the time but brilliantly timeless as this. The film reeks of the early 90s but because the story shifts around to so many varying locales with such a batshit crazy premise it manages to elevate itself to a place where it achieves that timelessness by proxy of being so many things whilst not dropping its coherence for a second. Conversely, my next film review, is a 90s film that really has found itself stuck there. That review will be up in the next few days. Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey is something of a comedy classic for me and I’d like to think many others remember it that way.