The Bill & Ted Films

Title: Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure
Bill & Ted's Bogus Journey
Rating: PG
Release Date: December 11, 2001 and December 4, 2001
Running Time: Excellent: 90 minutes, Bogus: 94 minutes
Ten-second Rundown: The future of mankind rests in the minds of two air-headed would-be rockers.

  • Original Theatrical Trailers

  • Behind-the-scenes featurette on Bogus Journey

  • Choice Scene:Bill & Ted give Death a Melvin. Gets me every time.

    Tech Specs: Widescreen, Excellent aspect ratio 2.35:1, Bogus aspect ratio 1.85:1, English Dolby 5.1 surround sound, Bogus French, Spanish and Portuguese Mono; English, French and Spanish subtitles, with Portuguese subtitles also on Bogus

    If you're blaming the Bill & Ted movies for inflicting Keanu Reeves upon the movie-going population, stop it right now. His career had long been established by the time he played Theodore Logan, and probably would have gone right along without that particular role. Instead, look at these films as a rare look at Keanu Reeves enjoying himself in a movie. Take it as a bonus that these exercises in stupidity are also quite entertaining.

    In the first of the two films, Excellent Journey, Ted and his good friend William S. Preston, Esquire (Alex Winter), are in imminent danger of flunking history. If that happens, Ted's father will send him to a military school in Alaska. Not only will that break up a friendship, but also their rock band, Wyld Stallyns.

    Worse, actually. The music of Wyld Stallyns should go on to form the core of a philosophical movement that will sweep the Earth, transforming the future into a utopia of sight, sound, and general excellence. If the band breaks up before it achieves popularity (or even before they actually learn how to play their instruments), that utopia will never come to pass.

    The only logical way to teach these idiots about history is to give them the ability to travel through time. And that's what future educator/student of the Stallyns Rufus (George Carlin) does. Whether or not they actually learn about history never quite becomes clear, but they do pick up a couple of medieval princesses who will go on to play keyboards and drums.

    MGM Home Entertainment has sort of tossed this film onto the marketplace. It has a decent video transfer, but nothing spectacular in terms of re-mastering either video or audio. With the theatrical trailer included, they have basically done the minimum for what the DVD consumer has come to expect. What effort the studio did make was focused on the sequel, Bill & Ted's Bogus Journey.

    And actually, that makes sense. While not a box office smash, the sequel surpasses the original goofy film in quality and (if you can say this about Bill & Ted) cleverness.

    A crisis has struck utopia. Would-be fascist De Nomolos (Joss Ackland) has constructed evil robot duplicates of Bill and Ted and sent them back in time to kill the founders of the future on the eve of their first great triumph. (Luckily for the movie, simply mounting a rebellion was too simple a plan.)

    Rufus tries to stop the robots, but gets lost in time. Having no sense of danger, Bill and Ted follow their duplicates out to the desert, where they get killed. But for the two innocents, death is only the beginning…

    The script (by Chris Matheson and Ed Solomon) combines dead-on skewerings of heavy metal and Ingmar Bergman, while also turning the Easter Bunny into a nightmarish figure. It was from the creativity of this installment that the franchise spawned an animated series, an action figure line, and one of Evan Dorkin's few forays into mainstream comics, a continuing (but short-lived) Bill & Ted series from Marvel.

    Though the extras are still sparse, MGM has added a featurette that looks like it may have originally been filler on HBO. While it tends toward repetition, it does have some goofy interplay between Winters and Reeves, including Reeves' first attempts to pronounce Nebuchednezzar (the ship from The Matrix). And far from the reserved and quizzical looking guy Reeves has become on and off screen recently, in this featurette he seems to be really cutting loose. Maybe Winter just brought it out of him.

    The technical work on this one is a little better, too. Not quite as crisp as you might like, the picture still looks better than it has on Super-Station reruns. The audio takes better advantage of surround sound than Excellent Adventure does.

    We probably won't get a third one, though every now and then the internet buzzes that Winter and Reeves are talking about it. If it ever happens, you may be surprised to find yourself laughing. In the meantime, check these out for the same effect.

    Buy Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure here for $11.21.

    Buy Bill & Ted's Bogus Journey here for $11.99.

    Derek McCaw


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