Movies From My Childhood: Bill and Ted's Bogus Journey
This is the first in an ongoing series of movie reviews from my child hood. If it makes you feel old to know that I'm 29 then I am sorry. If you have any films that you think would fit here write me and let me know at firstname.lastname@example.org and remember to tune in to 24 Frames every Thursday at 8pm on Channel 5.
"Bill and Ted's Bogus Journey" was the follow up to 1989’s "Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure". The latter of which was a light hearted buddy comedy that followed two goofy California surfer dudes as they tried to create the greatest music video of all time for their band, The Wild Stallions(Wyld Stallyons), but first they have to pass history class.
Keanu Reeves plays the doofus Ted Logan to perfection, and although he's gone on to have great success playing other characters like Neo in "The Matrix" earnest nincompoops are right in his wheelhouse(Parenthood). Alex Winter plays Bill S. Preston Esquire and he's just as effective as Reeves, the two are an 80's version of Abbot and Costello playing each other as fools, for fools, and just foolishly.
There was a lot of charm in"Excellent Adventure" but "Bogus Journey" decides to throw that all away and just go nuts. We learn in the beginning of the film that because of the Wyld Stallyons most bodacious melodies the future is a peaceful utopia where everybody loves and rocks. An evil master mind sends back Bill and Ted robots to kill and replace their counterparts thus destroying the peaceful rocking future and replacing it with... I don't know, it doesn't really get in to why anyone wouldn't want peace and rock n' roll but we will assume there is good reason. After dying, Bill and Ted have to take a trip through purgatory and the underworld(Hell) to get back home and take their lives back thereby saving the future. Think Dante’s inferno meets Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas and you might be scratching the surface of what Bogus Journey is reaching for.
What makes the film so interesting is that the producers could have played it safe and delivered the exact same thing as the original film, think "Hangover 2", but instead they decided to take a chance and make an original and inspired vision that is still somewhat haunting today. The art design of the film is what Tim Burton's nightmares must look like; gothic, honorific images of Hell and it's inhabitants flow from one inspired set to another. One especially terrifying vision is when Bill and Ted relive moments from their childhood involving the Easter Bunny and Bill's grandmother. They also pay homage to Ingmar Bergman’s "The 7th Seal" which must mean they are above their own material as the audience for a film like Bogus Journey is probably hardly familiar with the Swedish filmmaker.
I think "Bogus Journey" succeeds for pushing the limits of what a commercial sequel should look like. In a world of rehashes like "Taken 2" and "Hangover 2" it's great to look back and realize that not every sequel has to be a retelling of the same story but can take an adventurous route that's both unique and inspired, a fresh vision. With the recent news that their is talks of a Bill and Ted 3 let's hope that they come up with something as fun as "Bogus Journey" was and still is.