MGM // 1991 // 94 Minutes // Rated PG
Reviewed by Judge Patrick Naugle // November 19th, 2001
Once they made history...now they are history.
Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure was a surprise hit in 1989. Keanu Reeves and Alex Winter's portrayal of the likable California boneheads was endearing to audiences looking for some light, goofy fun. Since this is a Hollywood movie we're talking out, the inevitable sequel was expected. In 1991 Bill and Ted returned to the big screen in Bill & Ted's Bogus Journey, a comedic romp so bizarre that it made the first film look sane in comparison. MGM takes us to heaven and hell and back in the non-bogus sequel Bill & Ted's Bogus Journey.
At the end of Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure our heroes were able to pass their history report, get the girls (princesses from the past), and form their band Wyld Stallyons, which would eventually bring harmony to the world.
Now, Bill and Ted...are dead. De Nomolos (Joss Ackland, Lethal Weapon 2), a futuristic bad guy who was also Rufus' (George Carlin) old gym teacher, has decided to change the future (where Bill and Ted are revered as rock 'n' roll saviors) by meddling with the past. Sending bad robot versions of Bill and Ted into 1991 San Dimas, De Nomolos successfully kills off the dudes and sends them straight to hell! Upon arriving in the underworld, Bill and Ted realize there is only one way to get back to earth to save their band and girlfriends: challenge The Grim Reaper (the hysterical William Sadler, Tales From The Crypt Presents: Demon Knight) to a contest! After beating him in many games (including Battleship and Twister), the Reaper takes the guys to Heaven to find the universes' most brilliant scientists to help them defeat the bad robots and maybe even save the babes!
Bill & Ted's Bogus Journey is that special kind of movie where the more I watch it the more I find something new to laugh at. Fletch and The Big Lebowski are two other examples of movies like this. I'd just seen Bill & Ted's Bogus Journey this past summer and watched it yet again this week, and darned if it wasn't just as funny as it was three months ago. This is definitely a case where the sequel is miles above the first film (which was also very funny to begin with).
What makes Bill & Ted's Bogus Journey such a good movie? A humorous sense of the absurd and off kilter gags. How many movies have you seen where Death (AKA The Grim Reaper) gets a whopping underwear wedgie by two slang talking slackers? I'd theorize that the answer is "not many." Bill & Ted's Bogus Journey is filled with these kinds of weird and funny moments that make watching the movie sheer joy.
I'm not going to beat around the bush -- William Sadler as The Grim Reaper is a big reason why this movie is so funny. The script is great and the performances are inspired, but it's really Death's show. At first the Reaper is a looming behemoth, but once on earth becomes somewhat of an insecure nebbish (with what appears to be a foreign accent). I can easily say that watching Bill and Ted play the Reaper in a game of Clue is one of the funniest moments ever captured on film, hands down (this was inspired by Ingmar Bergman's chess game with Death in The Seventh Seal). If nothing else went right with this movie (which is surely does), Sadler's performance would have been enough to have warranted a single viewing.
Sadler's antics aside, Bill & Ted's Bogus Journey is just plain silly fun. From heaven to hell I giggled through every part of this movie. Keanu Reeves and Alex Winter are of course perfect in their roles (by this point I'm sure they had them down to a science). George Carlin once again shows up as their time traveling buddy Rufus, and Joss Ackland as De Nomolos shows that he's game for anything (even getting a mammoth wedgie himself). The production budget for this second feature was larger than the first and it shows in the detail of the sets and locations. Station, a large alien with butt crack the size of the Grand Canyon, is both grotesque and cute at the same time. I especially enjoyed the film's version of hell, and chuckled when Bill observed that "we were totally lied to by our album covers."
The first movie was a lot of fun -- the second is an even wilder and more imaginative ride into the odd world of Bill and Ted. If you haven't seen this movie you've been missing out. Now is the time to make a non, non, non-heinous choice! Excellent!
Bill & Ted's Bogus Journey is presented in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen. While this print looks better than Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure, imperfections and defects still abound. Some dirt and grain shows up in the picture, and there is a excess of edge enhancement in a few scenes. While the image quality this time around is a better (colors and black levels are even and bright), the transfer still lacks the qualities associated with a great looking DVD presentation.
Audios is presented in Dolby Digital 5.1, as well as Dolby Digital Mono in Portuguese, French and Spanish. Much like the first film, this Dolby 5.1 soundtrack lacks some really good directional qualities and fidelity. While it's a decent track (and certainly much better than a Dolby 2.0 Surround track), I just wasn't blown away by this remix. All aspects of the dialogue, effects, and rock and roll soundtrack were clear of any distortion or hiss. Also included on this disc are French, Portuguese, English and Spanish subtitles.
Extra features are slim, but at least there's more here than on MGM's Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure disc. Included on this edition of Bill & Ted's Bogus Journey is a theatrical and teaser trailer, plus a "Behind-The-Scenes" featurette that includes interviews with Alex Winters, Keanu Reeves, director Peter Hewitt, and William Sadler (hamming it up in character as the Reaper).
This is an exuberant romp you don't want to miss! MGM has done a fair job on this title, though the exclusion of any real substantial extras and a mediocre transfer is a little disheartening. Otherwise, this is a highly recommended disc and movie!
Bill & Ted's Bogus Journey is free to go! Station!
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Scales of Justice
* 1.85:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
* Dolby Digital 1.0 Mono (French)
* Dolby Digital 1.0 Mono (Portuguese)
* Dolby Digital 1.0 Mono (Spanish)
Running Time: 94 Minutes
Release Year: 1991
MPAA Rating: Rated PG
* Theatrical Trailers
* Behind-The-Scenes Featurette