A and A's Movie A Day

Watching movies until we run out.

Movie 187 – Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey

Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey – September 3rd, 2010

I don’t even know where to begin here. I hadn’t ever seen this before tonight, largely due to the fact that I’d heard it was a disappointing follow-up to the original movie. Whoever told me that? Was right. I’ve read now that there was supposed to be a third movie, but Keanu Reeves and Alex Winter (wisely) decided not to reprise their roles, so the script was re-purposed as Bio-Dome. That might give one a clue as to the direction we’re going in here. Not that I’ve seen Bio-Dome. I make it a policy to avoid Pauly Shore whenever possible. But I don’t think I’m being unfair here. I mean. Bio-Dome. I’m glad they stopped when they did.

Now, let me just say, before I get going, that I went into this knowing it had gotten bad reviews but wanting to enjoy it. I’ve liked plenty of things that got bad reviews before, and hated things that got nothing but critical adoration. I liked Spring Break Shark Attack after all. My taste levels are all over the place, I guess. So I try not to predict what I will and won’t like based on critical opinion. And I really do love the first movie in all its ridiculous glory. But I just didn’t like this one as much. It doesn’t come close. And that is so very sad to me.

There is indeed some fun stuff in here. I particularly liked William Sadler as the Grim Reaper. The whole sequence with Bill and Ted playing a series of games against him in an extended reference to The Seventh Seal is great. I kind of liked Evil Robot Bill and Ted too. They were like Mirror Mirror Bill and Ted, but without goatees or sexier clothing. Sure, they were mean to the Princesses and killed Bill and Ted, but they’re eeeeeevil! That’s the point! There’s plenty of metal and music and references to both and a concert at the end and the credits show the rise of Wyld Stallyns into the force of peace and harmony they obviously become. And that’s all fun. But then there’s the rest of the movie.

The journey to hell and then heaven, um. Okay, fine, whatever. An adventure in the afterlife isn’t nearly so much fun as an adventure through time, and I think that the movie loses a lot of ground there. After all, the fun of the first movie was based in a fish out of water type set-up, with Bill and Ted out of place in the past and the historical figures out of place in the present. But I get that just doing another ‘kidnap lots of folks from history’ plot might have been tricky. I just wish they’d managed to do more with the time travel aspect than using the ‘we set everything up afterward to get us out of trouble now’ trick again. But okay, they decided to go with afterlife instead of time travel. Great. I can run with it. The trouble is that the situations they run into in hell end up feeling like a low budget nod to Beetlejuice or something. And then in heaven they meet Station.

I. I do not know what to say about Station. At the beginning of the movie, James Martin of Faith No More shows up and shouts “STATION!” to a futuristic classroom and they all respond in kind. And that’s great, but either I’m missing a metal reference, or it’s just inane. Someone clue me in if it’s something I’m missing. Otherwise I’m just going to think the movie tried to make ‘station’ happen and failed. Miserably. Because making the word mean a pair of Martians who are the universe’s best scientists and who can only say the word ‘station’? Is pretty weak. That, and their robots look like they failed auditions for Max Headroom. The movie is pretty hit-or-miss and all over the map anyhow, but the addition of the Martians on top of everything just tipped it over the edge for me. I could run with the plot about the evil dude trying to sabotage Bill and Ted before they become famous. I could handle the evil robot versions of Bill and Ted being told to accomplish said sabotage by offing the real Bill and Ted. And that leads to the afterlife journey thing, so okay, I’ve mentioned my feelings on that but fine. They even try to do the historical figure thing when Bill and Ted are in heaven. Great! There’s some messy stuff with Missy-Mom and the running around in hell and all, but even though it was aimless it wasn’t really bad. And then, wham, Station.

I wish I could give this movie a positive review. I wish I could say it’s a vastly under-appreciated cult classic that might not live up to its predecessor but is totally worth watching anyhow. But I can’t. I can’t do it. There are scenes worth watching. There are bits that could have been cool. There are moments when the spirit of the original comes through. But they’re all lost in this bizarre mish-mash of a movie. It’s a real pity. No wonder Reeves and Winter decided to pass on a third. I’d guess the ads for Bio-Dome didn’t make them regret that decision either. I know I don’t.

September 3, 2010 Posted by | daily reviews | , , , , | Leave a comment

Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey

September 3. 2010

Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey

After I discovered the error of my ways and decided that Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure was actually a pretty cool movie I made sure I saw the sequel in the theater when it came out. At the time I remember being underwhelmed. I haven’t seen it since then, so now is a good time to re-evaluate my assessment and see how I feel about it now.

I can totally see what the film makers were trying to do here. Rather than re-hash the first movie with another adventure through time they chose to up the crazy factor and instead have an adventure through death and the afterlife. Parts of the movie are fun, and all of it is weird, but it lacks the charm of the original.

This movie starts on the eve of the fateful battle of the bands that launches Wyld Stallyns to mega stardom, but Bill and Ted still don’t know how to play guitar even. Unless they can somehow become a great band overnight they are doomed to failure, and the future is once more in peril. This time around it is not help that our brain-dead duo o not receive help from the future. Instead an evil mastermind uses the time-traveling phone booth to send a pair of evil robot doppelgangers back in time to kill Bill and Ted and break up the band.

What is surprising is that the evil robots actually succeed in their mission to kill Bill and Ted. So the two of them must outwit Death himself, defeat the Devil, confront God and somehow defeat their evil nemesis. Oh, and they have to rescue their girlfriends (now their fiances) and somehow win the battle of the bands too.

Like I said, I can understand what this movie is trying to do… it just doesn’t work for me. Rather than showing amusing bits of historical figures trying to deal with our modern world we have a whole lot of metaphysical weirdness which is entirely disconnected from our world. This disconnect is accentuated when the pair pick up a couple of diminutive aliens called Station in Heaven. It’s at this point in the movie that I stop caring about what’s going on. Station is/are irritating, bizarre, and never quite feels like a part of the Bill and Ted universe. I suppose that if you’re going to have time travel there’s no reason not to have weird aliens, but undead heavenly aliens with a single word vocabulary, no clothes, and creepy animatraonic big-nosed faces with crazy staring eyes? No, you’ve lost me there.

The final battle of the bands confrontation is, I think, supposed to echo the final oral history presentation in the first movie, where Bill and Ted improbably put on a wonderful show and impress everybody. But by inviting comparisons it makes the lackluster feel of the end of this movie all the more apparent. The end of this movie is frenetic and spastic, but never thrilling or exciting. It doesn’t feel to me like a triumphant and improbable victory for Bill and Ted, instead it feels like what it is: all the characters in the movie crashing into each other at once.

The one thing I really enjoy in this movie is Death, the grim reaper. I admit that I have not seen the Seventh Seal (yes, I know, it’s shocking) but I do recognise an intentional spoof of the iconic Death from that movie. Death here is a buffoon who Bill and Ted repeatedly beat and who eventually becomes a sort of hanger-on for them. He gets all the best lines in the movie though, and the epic confrontation between him and the duo where they must play a game for their very souls is probably the best part of the whole film. Is it enough to redeem the film? No. But it is enough to save it from being unwatchably bad.

September 3, 2010 Posted by | daily reviews | , , , , | Leave a comment