Sunday, April 10, 2016

Interscope Communications's Bill & Ted's Bogus Journey

Sometimes you need the best of Science Fiction and Fantasy. There are days when only a desperate struggle against an implacable foe will do. When that one character standing in the breech is the only thing that prevents the total annihilation of all we hold dear. You know the drill: The cavalry isn't coming. The world ending supernuke is armed and waiting. From out of nowhere comes our plucky hero with their knowledge and know-how for a bit of daring-do that saves us all... And sometimes you don't. Sometimes, a bit of slapstick goes well with your craving for the strange and unusual. Sometimes, what you really have to have is a couple of goofballs playing air guitar. And believe me, there are times when "evil robot us-es" are the only thing keeping you from losing your mind. On those days only Interscope Communications's Bill & Ted's Bogus Journey will do.

I'll be the first to admit that this isn't Heinlein. That's not the point. If you're looking for deeply meaningful, masterfully written, high falutin' SF/F I really would suggest something else. The adventures of Ted Theodore Logan and Bill S Preston, Esquire are not for those impressed only by careful wordsmithing. Their words, while well meaning, are a bit annoying. If ever there were a male equivalent to the "Valley Girl" it's Bill and Ted. When the most meaningful line of a movie is "Be excellent to each other" you're not going to be impressed with the carefully crafted dialogue. This is a movie for someone who wants to have fun, not for some stuffy lit-er-uh-chooer aficionado.

With Bill and Ted traveling from Earth to Hell to Heaven and back, I can't quite help but wonder if Dante Aligheri isn't rolling over in his grave.  This can't be quite what he had in mind when we wrote it. There are no theological points to be made here, no attacks against enemies. Bill and Ted's version of hell is actually quite comical. And our heroes shouldn't feel bad. I can't do pushups either. Heaven is a bit different than Dante wrote it too. That's fitting. But please Lord, if I ever do get there, don't let THAT happen to me just as I'm about to walk in...

It's weird though, because this is a strangely inspirational type film. Bill and Ted are two guys who just don't know when to quit. They literally escape from Hell and come back from the dead on their journey to save their girlfriends. They don't let a little thing like not knowing how to play their instruments stop them from winning the Battle of the Bands. In the process they actually save the world. It doesn't get any tackier.

Yes, my friends, this is a schlock-fest. This is the type of thing you'd want to force feed to that high school Lit teacher who made you read The Scarlet Letter. B&TBJ is the be all end all of goofiness. There are no redeeming features for the arrogant snob who demands only the deepest in meaning. There are no extensive metaphysics here. This is a movie that sees no need to drag us all through a bunch of depressing BS just so that we can come out "better" at the end. The only good thing about this work is it's entertainment value but let's face it: If I want to "improve" myself there are any number of religious or self-help texts I could read. Since I watch and/or read my SF/F as a form of escapist fun though, I can make a guilty admission: I really, really enjoyed this movie.

Honestly though, I'm at a loss at to describe what I liked about the movie without giving too much away. I mean, a wimpy Grim Reaper is funny, but I don't want to give his best line away. The way Bill and Ted eventually get into Heaven is EPIC but I don't want to say too much. Their reaction upon reaching hell is way too metal for me. I mean, dude it's just..uhh... yeah. I don't want to go there. There may very well be a human being on the planet who hasn't seen this yet. I don't want to ruin it. It's only been twenty-five years since it came out (True story, bro. It was released in theaters in 1991.) so I have to be careful here...

A word about the special effects is in order: They were goofy but good. The robots (both good and evil) were really well done. Of course, the phone booth has to appear. The guns in the movie worked a little too hard to look futuristic but it's Bill and Ted. They had to look more funny than menacing. Ok, so some of the costumes were a bit too garish for words, but again that's the movie and the way things are supposed to look. I love the fact that this flick doesn't take itself too seriously. Really. Case in point: Two awesome robots were built out of vacuum cleaners and other assorted oddities. Death thought about trading in his scythe for a garden hoe. The whole movie constantly got goofier.

Maybe the best part about this movie was all of the other stories it reminded me of. I've already mentioned The Divine Comedy. There was also a scene that reminded me, oddly enough, of just about every Battletech or Mechwarrior I've ever played, watched or read. One particular scene played like a cross between Weird Science and The Six Million Dollar Man. The Bill and Ted movies came out around the same time as the Wayne's World movies and there a billion similarities at least. I loved it. The only problem(?) is that I'm going to have to go back watch a bunch of other stuff now.

Was Bill & Ted's Bogus Journey a perfect movie? Yes it was. NOT!!! Nothing is perfect but there are times when things do get a wee bit annoying. The continuous air-guitar thing was a bit over the top. Robots playing basketball with their own heads -while funny- stretched the believability limits past their breaking point. There was a scene with Station that was quite frankly grosser than it needed to be. Overall though, this movie was a rocking good time. Now party on and be excellent to each other!

Bottom Line:  4.5 out of 5 Excellent Guitar Riffs

Bill & Ted's Bogus Journey
Interscope Communication, 1991

Bill & Ted's Bogus Journey can be purchased at the links below:

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