Today I watched Peter Hewitt’s Bill and Ted’s Bogus Journey (1991)
Trouble brews in the Idillic future as a villain named Chuck De Nomolos has planned some manner of fascist coup. He seizes a time machine and has created a set of robot duplicates to replace Bill and Ted and sabotage their performance at the local battle of the bands. But back in the present it seems that the real Bill and Ted themselves are in a bit of a rut and despite the impending battle, they still kinda suck. The evil robot versions actually take them out with extreme ease and before the half hour mark our heroes are dead. Now they must trek through heaven and hell and must duel the grim reaper himself in a series of games before they can return to life and win the battle of the bands, thereby securing a future of liberty and benevolence.
The reason Bill and Ted are in the less than ideal situation they are at the beginning of this film is actually quite subtle and speaks to the craft on display here. By knowing that they will be the messiahs they have lost their competitive edge, that go-getter attitude that had brought them so much success in the previous film. Instead of responding to adversity with positivity, they slink back to their couch. This all culminates in the climax which I will spoil here in which Nomolos comes back in time after the failure of his robots to kill Bill and Ted personally. Our heroes manage to win the day because their future selves intervene on their behalf, Nomolos tries to play this game as well but they point out that only one group can actually win and change the past with the time machine. At first glance this seems like another fatalist example of deus ex machina, but in reality it is far from it. Bill and Ted are the future winners not because of fate but because they actualize it by coming up with the idea and speaking it aloud, they force the future to comply with their will by expressing it long before Nomolos has the chance.
Aside from an expansion of the themes, the film is also a lot wilder in terms of where the plot goes. The film delves into the surreal with it’s portrayal of the afterlife and even when they return as it is made clear the death himself plays bass in Wyld Stallyns. It takes some imagination to take a story of two time travelling messianic rock dudes and go even further than kidnapping historical figures to pass a history exam, and I think Bogus Journey manages to do just that. It may not be quite as iconic in scope as it’s predecessor but this movie is positively hallucinatory with all the crazy ideas, odd references and creative visuals. So while this film’s cult status somewhat pales in comparison to the original, the film itself most certainly does not. Bogus Journey really holds up and expands the series with an extra dose of wackiness that is certainly appreciated. 5/5