Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Bill and Ted's Bogus Journey (1991)

Title: Bill and Ted’s Bogus Journey (1991)

Director: Peter Hewitt

Cast: Keanu Reeves, Alex Winters, William Sadler, George Carlin, Pamela Grier, Joss Ackland


Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure was the sleeper hit of 1989, nobody expected it to become a hit, yet, there it was, making millions at the box office. For a movie that only cost 10 million, making more than 40 million at the box office is a big deal, so of course, a bigger and more expensive sequel went into production; this time with twice the budget and better special effects. The result was Bill and Ted go to Hell, or as it was later re-titled: Bill and Ted’s Bogus Journey. The reason for changing the title was that in the United States, you cannot advertise anything on television with the word ‘Hell’ on it before 9 P.M., so in order to promote the film more effectively, they just changed the title. A stupid rule if there ever was any, how’s using the word hell going to affect a kid? So, whatever, they changed the title to Bogus Journey, which is a cool substitute title anyways. This film underwent many changes on its way to the silver screen, many of them had to do with the film being “too scary” for kids. I guess they figured this film was aimed at 12 year olds even though the main characters are young adults? This was one of those movies where studios get all nervous about marketing. If it’s too scary for kids, or too silly for adults, then there’s a possibility that the film will tank at the box office.

R.I.P. Bill and Ted! 

Thankfully, this didn’t happen to Bill and Ted’s Bogus Journey. It went on to recuperate its budget at the box office simply because there was no denying this movie was fun times, it was cool, it had that rock and roll attitude, it had two likable lead characters, cool effects and heavy doses of comedy. It feels like the overall vibe while making this movie was “the crazier the better!” I remember seeing the movie in theaters when I was about 15 years old and leaving the theater excited and satisfied. And I remember it was after I heard KISS’s ‘God Gave Rock and Roll to You II’ on this movie that I started to listen to KISS and I started to like them. I mean, according to the film, this was the song that was going to bring unity to the entire universe! It was thanks to this movie that I am a hardcore KISS fan! So I thank this movie for introducing me to the hottest band in the world. The soundtrack was pretty rocking too, I mean, here’s a soundtrack that had all manner of cool bands at the moment. Even cooler, the rest of the films rock and roll score was done by guitar legend Steve Vai;  how cool is that? The soundtrack included tunes from KISS, Megadeth, Primus, Faith No More and Winger. It also had a really catchy tune that was used to promote the film called “Shout it Out” by a hair band called Slaughter. I remember really liking that one too. It was these type of hair bands that dominated the popular music scene back in the early 90’s, this was just prior to the arrival of Nirvana, Pearl Jam and the death of hair bands. We could say that Bogus Journey captures the last vestiges of that party rock that was so popular in the 80’s. Hair bands had an expiration date, they just didn’t know it yet.

On Bill and Ted’s Bogus Journey we find Bill and Ted a little older, but not a little wiser, in fact, they are just as dumb as ever. Here we find them contemplating marriage! They even get engaged to ‘the babes’ and as engagement rings they give them plastic rings that seem to have come out of a Cracker Jack box! They innocently wonder if the babes will stay over after they marry? Ha! They are also trying to get into the battle of the bands. You see, according to the first film, Bill and Ted are supposed to be the saviors of the universe, bringing peace and unity to the galaxy through their rock and roll, unfortunately, they are having trouble living up to the prophecy because according to Mrs. Wardrobe the organizer of the Battle of the Bands competition, they stink! Meanwhile, in the future, a dictator known as De Nomolos is sending two evil robot versions of Bill and Ted (known throughout the movie as Evil Bill and Ted) to the past to kill Bill and Ted so that he can rule the future with an iron fist. Worst part of the whole thing is that the robots are successful, Bill and Ted are killed and that’s where their Bogus Journey through the afterlife begins. They meet God, Satan and everything in between, they even give The Grim Reaper a visit, hell they even play Battle Ship with him! Will they ever get a chance to live again? And just when and how will they become the saviors of the universe?

One of the things that I enjoy about this one is how inventive it is with its special effects and its visual gags. From start to finish we get a nonstop assortment of special effects. First we get to see ‘Bill and Ted University’ where Rufus, Bill and Ted’s mentor, is a professor. Cool part about this university is that if the students need to know who Benjamin Franklin is, Rufus just gets on the time machine and brings him right into the classroom! So anyhow, then Bill and Ted die and we go to hell, where meet Satan, who looks exactly how you’d expect him to look, like a giant red demon overseeing hell. Bill and Ted manage to greet him, “How’s it going Beelzebub?” Then Bill and Ted head on over to limbo and play a couple of board games with The Grim Reaper, who then takes Bill and Ted up to heaven, to meet God himself. So it’s a film that is constantly taking us to visually interesting places, it’s never boring that’s for sure. We even get to meet two little Martians called ‘Station’ who join their bodies and become this giant Martian scientist! And then we have both good and evil robot versions of Bill and Ted; if this all sounds like a huge mess of a movie, then you know what? You’re kind of right, this movie is all over the place! But that’s exactly what I like about it, how offbeat it is.

The film was actually even crazier then what I’ve described. I sometimes wish they would've released a director’s cut of this film because it would be an even cooler film, the stuff they left out was the edgier stuff, the stuff deemed too scary for kids, or stuff that the producers thought would be too confusing for audiences. For example, there’s a scene in which Evil Bill and Ted open up their robotic chests and take out three canisters, each canister containing one of Bill and Ted’s fears. They actually filmed a scene in which Bill and Ted are headed towards the Battle of the Bands on their van and they suddenly confront nightmarish versions of Bill’s Granny, The Easter Bunny and Coronel Oats! It becomes a showdown between Bill and Ted and hellish versions of their worst fears! The evil bunny rabbit looked positively evil! A pity it was left out of the film! 

This nightmarish Bunny Rabbit was cut out of the film if you can believe it! 

Another deleted scene had Evil Bill and Ted revealing that Evil Bill was actually Evil Ted and vice versa, now this part I know would have been confusing for audiences, because what the hell right? Evil Bill was actually Evil Ted? And Vice Versa?  Totally nuts right? But what the hell, the whole movie was crazy from the beginning anyway! There was also a deleted scene in which Bill and Ted are in Hell, hammering rocks with sledge hammers with a demon overseeing their work, and they say something like “I kind of like this!” and then the demon that’s watching over them eats a rat and one of them says “I heard a guy found one of those in a bucket of chicken!” I guess that was deemed to gross? Whatever, these deleted scenes simply show that Bill and Ted’s Bogus Journey was a film filled with so many ideas that they had to leave some of them out in order to make the movie flow, or to shorten running time. Cool to know that director Peter Hewitt shot an epic Bill and Ted film! This movie was going to be even more epic than it already is!

This deleted scene actually made it on to the comic book adaptation of the film done by Marvel Comics! 

Which is cool when we take in consideration that this was Peter Hewitt’s first film ever. Back then, this  28 year old British lad was chosen out of 50 other possible directors. He was chosen because of the strength of a short he had made called ‘The Candy Show’. After directing Bogus Journey Hewitt stuck to directing family films like The Borrowers (1997) and Garfield (2004). The rest of the cast has also gone on to do great things, Keanu Reeves of course went on to become the mega star he is today, and Alex Winter went on to become a director of children’s films and television shows like Ben 10. He is currently trying to get a remake of The Gate (1987) in 3-D, but that’s been in development hell like forever. I hope he does manage to get it made though! He also went on to direct the make-up effects heavy film called Freaked (1993), gonna be reviewing it soon. But what of Bill and Ted’s further adventures through time? Well, there’s been talk of a Bill and Ted 3, actually, I hear there’s even a screenplay written for it, written by the very same guys who created and wrote the first two films, Ed Solomon and Chris Matheson. According to Alex Winters himself, nothing is holding Bill and Ted 3 from getting made; it’s just that these things take time. I wonder if Keanu would go back to playing Ted again? I know I wouldn’t mind seeing another one! Maybe a new danger is threatening the peace of the universe? Bring it on! I wouldn’t mind seeing another one! Party on dudes!

Rating: 4 out of 5  

For an interesting and informative take on Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure (1989), the film that started it all, check out J.D. Lafrance's review on Radiator Heaven! 

Director Peter Hewitt talks over a scene with Martian Scientist 'Station'


eddie lydecker said...

I always thought this was better than the first one.

Franco Macabro said...

Agree, it's superior in many ways, the production was bigger, they had double the budget which equals more special effects, more crazy ideas..this movie is jam packed with ideas.

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teddy crescendo said...

I always found it astonishing that the geezer doing the Ingmar Bergman bit (Bill Sadler) was the same geezer who played the bad geezer in the previous years "Die Hard 2: Die Harder", it really seemed to sum up the literal bizarre surrealism of the acting process.

Franco Macabro said...

Damien: I'll get in touch with you, but sounds good!

Teddy: Yeah, he also played death in the Tales from the Cryp episode "The Man Who was Death" from the first season, an excellent episode by the way, highly recommend it. He also played one of the lead characters in Demon Knight.

If you watch closely, Sadler has a double role in Bogus Journey, he plays death, but when DeNomolos starts giving his speech to all the countries across the world, Sadler cameos as an English Family Man having breakfast with his family and reacting to DeNomolos's message by saying "My Word!"


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