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Bill & Ted's Bogus Journey (1991)

In the far future, self-styled megalomaniac Joss Ackland has decided to reverse the ending of Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure by sending back in time evil robot doubles of the braindead valley dudes, played again by Keanu Reeves and Alex Winter, with orders to wreck their chance of winning the Battle of the Bands contest, and thus forestall the utopian pastel future Bill and Ted will create with their horrible rock band. The evil robots kidnap the originals and throw them off a Star Trek location mountain to their deaths, whereupon Bill and Ted have to face up to the Grim Reaper (William Sadler) and visit both Heaven and Hell before returning to Earth as ghosts to set things to rights. While this is perhaps less consistently funny than the first film it is, thanks to director Peter Hewitt, surprisingly a rather better movie, with something approaching a plot and characters and far more visual imagination than the scrappy but hilarious original managed.

And the stupidity quotient is just as high as before: with Bill and Ted spoofing Bergman by challenging Death to games of Battleship, Cluedo and Twister, as Sadler puts on a cod-Swedish accent in one of the funniest, strangest turns of recent years. In Heaven, we find Ben Franklin, Confucius and Einstein playing charades, with Einstein winning by guessing Smokey and the Bandit 3: Smokey is the Bandit. And Hell features a nicely malevolent turn by a gleefully malign Easter Bunny. With more stoned slang and idiotic charm from the youthful leads, this leaps over the sequel hump effortlessly, although the plot resolution suggests the team plan to quit while they are ahead and end the whole thing. It's a moot point, but in a comedy, what do you want? Better or funnier? For now, this bogus journey gets by, but perhaps the smart move is to call it a day before Bill and Ted queer the pitch by growing up too much.
KIM NEWMAN

First Published In: City Limits (issue unknown)


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