a critiQal film review Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey (1991)

Plot: Bill (Winter) and Ted (Reeves) are back. This time around, they are pitted against two evil robots in their likenesses. The robots, “Evil” Bill and “Evil” Ted are sent back in time to kill Bill and Ted before they perform at the battle of the bands. Apparently, the speech they give at the battle of the bands starts them on their way to success, and paves the way for the future to be based on them. Bill and Ted must travel through heaven, hell, and everywhere in between on their way to competing...and again saving all of mankind.

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  • ...the hilarious addition of Death as a character helps make this sequel fresh and entertaining.

Since Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure (1989) was a surprise hit, what does Hollywood do with that success? You guessed it – a sequel. So out came Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey.

The question was, what else could they do with the concept? Would it just be a simple rehashing of the original film, or would it try to incorporate something new and different, while still remaining fresh and funny? With trepidation, we waited and watched.

Keanu and Alex both seem a little bit more awkward in Bill and Ted’s Bogus Journey. In the first, their newness to acting helped to further embody their characters. In the second, they already have a hit under their belts, and show a bit more cockiness than the first. A good way for the filmmakers to diffuse this obviously inevitable consequence of having a hit film was to incorporate that cockiness, to the extreme, in the evil robots Bill and Ted. It let the actors show off what their egos were feeding them, while at the same time letting the original heroes keep their innocence. It was a great idea on the part of the filmmakers, and it really pays off.

George Carlin shows up a little less in this film than in the first, but he still manages to keep his comedic wit in the mix.

A couple of new characters are introduced, but the only major player turns out to be the Grim Reaper himself. He’s portrayed very well, maintaining his somewhat somber attitude, while at the same time able to let himself go a little in his free time. The actor, William Sadler, put it best when he said his thinking going into this role was that “Death is just a guy with a tough job”. It’s a great way to see Death portrayed, and brings the ability for more comedy to a somber character. Watching Death start to loosen up is definitely one of the highlights of Bill and Ted’s Bogus Journey.

The plot takes Bill & Ted in an entirely new direction. The filmmakers could have just sent them through time again, and re-hashed the original, but instead they made a sequel that would work just as well as a stand-alone film, yet incorporates all the familiar characters from the first one. The characters stay true to the original also, but this time around they get to experience the two places they haven’t been yet: Heaven and Hell. It’s a great unexpected twist, and definitely adds to the appeal of the film.

The special effects do leave a bit to be desired at times, as they did in the original, but the technology has advanced so much since then that they can’t really be blamed. They do a great job with what they have to work with, which is primitive by today’s standards, and the film has that extra cheese which just seems to add to it’s appeal.

All in all, Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey is one of the better sequels out there. It not only takes the familiar characters from the first film, it improves on them greatly, and leaves you wondering what else they could have done with the characters by the movie’s end. A true sequel tries to combine the elements that made the first film so successful, while at the same time making you want even more by film’s end. The truly great sequels are the start of movie franchises, and a lot is based on them.

Buy this one today – it’s another DVD must-own.

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