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  Bill and Ted's Bogus Journey Bill And Dead
Year: 1991
Director: Peter Hewitt
Stars: Keanu Reeves, Alex Winter, William Sadler, Joss Ackland, Pam Grier, George Carlin, Amy Stock-Poynton, Jim Martin, Hal Landon Jr, Annette Azcuy, Sarah Trigger, Chelcie Ross, Taj Mahal, Roy Brocksmith, J. Patrick McNamara, Ed Gale, Arturo Gil, Tom Allard
Genre: Comedy, Science Fiction, FantasyBuy from Amazon
Rating:  7 (from 3 votes)
Review: The year is 2691, and Planet Earth has enjoyed a utopian ideal for centuries thanks to the grounding it had following the philosophy of rock band Wyld Stallyns, who had been established in the twentieth century by budding musicians Bill (Alex Winter) and Ted (Keanu Reeves). But not everyone likes the tranquility and teachings that have endured for so long: step forward De Nomolos (Joss Ackland), an evil mastermind determined to upset the apple cart. He hijacks the time machine that helped to establish the future, and sends back two bad robot versions of Bill and Ted to put paid to them...

Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure proved both a cult hit and a big enough success to cue a generously budgeted sequel a couple of years after its release, no matter that the orginal had been made back in 1987 and sat on the shelf for two years, when the thought that here was a franchise that could make money entered the heads of the studio men at the soon to be defunct Orion, then a follow-up was inevitable. Screenwriters Chris Matheson and Ed Solomon (De Nomolos backwards, natch) were brought back, as were many of the cast, all with the hope that lightning would strike twice and the joyously ridiculous antics of before would find a new lease of life.

And although Bogus Journey never caught on in quite the same way, many fans were delighted that there was another instalment that almost captured the fun of the source. If it was not quite as hilarious in this case, then it was not for want of trying, as the screenwriter's invention had them spiraliing the plotline off in all sorts of undisciplined directions, all for the sake of the next absurd gag, though there was a sense that they were repeating themselves by the end. Not least for the air guitar riffing, which just about every character had indulged in before the end credits rolled - it was funnier when used more sparingly, not when everyone from the title characters to the princesses and beyond were doing it.

But in spite of reservations, the relentlessly goodnatured celebration of the innocently cheerful did achieve a good many laughs as our heroes are replaced by the robots, who plan to blow their chances of winning a battle of the bands that very evening, thereby pulling off the plan of the bad guys to wreck the idyllic future in favour of De Nomolos's bad tempered version. After taking the boys up to a rocky structure in the desert which they have by no coincidence just seen Captain Kirk negotiate in the Star Trek episode they were glumly watching, the evil robots show no conscience and throw them from the precipice to their deaths - that's right, Bill and Ted do get killed in this one.

This prompts the introduction of the funniest character outside of the leads, William Sadler as the Ingmar Bergman incarnation of Death from The Seventh Seal. Sadler is genuinely hilarious ("Yes way...!") as he tries and fails to retain his dignity in the face of the duo's upbeat ludicrousness, so instead of getting him to play chess to get their lives back, Bill and Ted settle for Battleships and Twister, among others. As well as that, the aspiring rock stars venture to Hell and meet Satan who is every bit as underhand as you'd expect - but they wouldn't - and go the opposite way to Heaven where they meet God who lends a helping hand. Barely pausing for breath, the characters bullet through the pleasingly daft situations, with the sunny disposition never letting up for a second, not even when there are terrible things occurring. If it's stronger on the whimsy than the laughs, it was still a worthy successor to a great eighties comedy. Music by David Newman.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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