So the other night, the man and I were flipping around on Netflix trying to find something to watch. We landed on Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure. What the hey, we thought, it’s been a while since we’ve seen it. So started our trip down memory lane.
Overall the movie held up well. Aside from the constant “Dude!” and “Excellent!” exclamations, and how freaking YOUNG Keanu looks (thereby making us feel like old people), it was an entertaining way to spend an hour and a half. It was light-hearted, fun, and the presentation at the end is always enjoyable. Two thumbs still up.
Then, feeling adventurous ourselves, we decided to do a double feature and watch the second one. Bill and Ted’s Bogus Journey does not hold up as well. It was indeed, totally bogus.
I’m not sure who’s bright idea this one was. The reason the first one was successful was because it was a fun little romp as we followed two not-quite-stoner kids as they zipped through time to kidnap important historical figures in order to pass their history class. Rufus, a time traveler from the future (played by George Carlin) loans them a telephone booth to help (wink, wink, nudge, nudge to Doctor Who fans), as it seems the music from their as-of-yet non-existent band succeeded in achieving world peace. If they fail their history report, Ted’s father will ship him off to military school, and the Wyld Stallyns will never form, thus dooming the future to anarchy, war, and really bad music.
Yeah. Sure. I’ll buy that for an hour and a half.
Bill and Ted surf through time, kidnapping Napoleon, Socrates, Billy the Kid, Sigmund Freud, Joan of Ark, and Abraham Lincoln, among others. Everyone seems quite easily accepting of this time-traveling phone booth, with these two simpletons at the helm. They ace their history report, Ted doesn’t go to military school, and the future is secure. Oh and they get the girls too, in the form of medieval princesses who were supposed to marry “royal ugly dudes”.
Happily ever after, The End, right?
Well, apparently, since the first one was such a big hit, the Powers That Be in Hollywood decided to milk this cash cow again. What resulted was Bill and Ted’s Bogus Journey. In a nutshell, this one involves a bad guy from the neon-colored, horribly-dressed future, as he sends Evil Bill and Ted Robots back in time to destroy Wyld Stallyns and thus, change the future. (Or present, to his view.)
Okay, so let’s take this bit by bit.
The main villain, De Nomolos, is the quintessential old guy who hates rock and roll. Dressed like a geriatric Darth Vader, he and his lackeys barge into a class taught by Rufus, and steal his time-traveling phone booth. De Nomolos sends his Evil Bill and Ted Robots back in time to kill Bill and Ted, and Rufus hitches a ride to presumably stop them. I say presumably, because we don’t hear from or see Rufus again until about 5 minutes before the end of the film. I think the writers forgot he was supposed to be there.
So the evil robots show up in the present, where Bill and Ted are questioning their future. They still have no idea how to play music, and have barely gotten into a Battle of the Bands contest. If they lose, the future is in jeopardy.
Now, let me just say that this movie felt a lot longer than the hour and a half it was. It just felt like it meandered, like it wasn’t quite sure where it was going or what story it was trying to tell. It just seemed . . . directionless.
The Evil Robots kill Bill and Ted, and then we’re treated to this long, seemingly pointless sequence in which Bill and Ted ditch Death, try to make contact with the living, get sent to Hell, meet Death again and beat him at a bunch of party games, and then go to Heaven. Once Upstairs, they mug a few new arrivals, meet with God, and enlist the help of “the most brilliant mind in the universe” to construct Good Bill and Ted Robots to beat the Evil versions of themselves.
Just when you thought the movie couldn’t dip into the realm of over-the-top weirdness any more, the “brilliant mind” they find in Heaven is actually two small, vaguely troll-like creatures named Station. These things seriously disturbed me. The costumes were poorly constructed, and they ran around naked, with an elongated buttcrack that reached halfway up their backs.
Once back on earth, they hit up a hardware store for the supplies necessary to construct the Good Bill and Ted Robots. Death goes along with them, for vague and unclear reasons. Once their shopping spree is over, the two Stations, also for vague and unclear reasons, merge into one huge troll-monster thing.
I wish I were joking. It was disturbing.
So this newly merged big troll-thing constructs the Good Robots in the back of the Wyld Stallyns van, as they hurry to the Battle of the Bands. They dispatch the Evil Robots with, I’m not even joking here, TWO PUNCHES. TWO!
Then Big Baddie shows up, is dealt with equally quickly and easily, and we learn that Rufus was there all along, dressed up like the sexy lady who let the Wyld Stallyns into the contest in the first place! Because “who else would have let you guys in?”
Bill and Ted take the time-traveling phone booth to learn to play, come back 16 months older and wiser, and proceed to play well for the first time ever. Death, Station (who had apparently split back into two little troll-things since completing the Good Robots), and the medieval babes (who Bill and Ted are now married to, with children) round out Wyld Stallyns. Music plays, world peace is declared, and the perfect future is on course.
I think the main problem with this film—other than Station—is they tried too hard to replicate the feel of the first. This one wasn’t light-hearted, it wasn’t fun. It took itself too seriously. The characters took themselves too seriously. Bill and Ted in the first one were easy-going teenagers, whose biggest stress was passing a school class. The second one tried to put heavier tones on them, making them grow up and be more responsible, but still hold onto that easy-going “Dude!” attitude. It doesn’t work.
Death was honestly the most enjoyable part for me. Played by William Sadler, he was the bright light in the dark pit of poor writing and muddy plot.
If you want fun entertainment, check out the first one. If you want to punish yourself, or need an example of a good thing twisted horribly and perverted solely for the purpose of soaking more money out of movie-goers, check out the second.
Just don’t come crying to me if you have nightmares about Station.