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‘Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey’

By Desson Howe
Washington Post Staff Writer
July 26, 1991

 


Director:
Pete Hewitt
Cast:
Keanu Reeves;
Alex Winter;
Bill Sadler;
Joss Ackland;
Pam Grier;
Geroge Carlin
PG
Parental guidance suggested


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You remember Bill and Ted. Heavy-metal fans. Dug the band Megadeth. Played a mean air guitar. Did a lot of time travel. Maybe you remember their dudespeak, a sort of Valley Boy Esperanto, consisting of terms such as "most excellent" (very good) and "non-non-heinous" (very bad).

For those who missed "Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure," and who are still reading this, hey, get with their world. In this summer's "Bill & Ted's Bogus Journey," the suburban teenagers (Alex Winter and Keanu Reeves, respectively) return to a most excellent sequel, funnier and livelier than the original.

Their mission this time is truly awesome: They're dead. But it's just the beginning of an entertaining, surreal journey through the Great Beyond. Bill and Ted will meet again with time-traveler Rufus (George Carlin, reprising his deus ex telephone booth role). They'll also encounter the Grim Reaper, the Devil, God, Albert Einstein, the Easter Bunny and two hairy, oval-shaped Martians who happen to be the smartest scientists in the universe.

"Bogus" isn't just about coming back to life. The friends have to save the 15th-century English maidens they're betrothed to. They have to win a battle of the bands. They also have to reassert their destiny. See, way ahead, in the 27th century, their legacy is legendary. They're famous cultural heroes. There's even a Bill and Ted University. But a nasty piece of work called De Nomolos (Joss Ackland) wants to sabotage their fate. He dispatches two evil-robot versions of Bill and Ted to deep-six the originals and change history for the worse.

Actually, any world containing a Bill and Ted University sounds pretty scary.

If all this sounds like blatant liftings from "The Terminator" and "Back to the Future," you're right on the money. "Bogus" is funny anyway, thanks to the dudes themselves. At one point, they find themselves plunging down an abyss towards hell. They start screaming. They plunge deeper. They keep screaming. It's a long fall. They have to take a breath and scream again.

"Dude," says Bill to his terrified partner. "This is a totally deep hole."

They finally give up and play 20 Questions . . .

The movie's best moments occur when Bill and Ted meet the Grim Reaper (William Sadler). In a sendup of Ingmar Bergman's "The Seventh Seal," the Reaper allows them a game of their choice. If they win, they may return to life. In "The Seventh Seal," Max von Sydow opted for chess with Death. In "Bogus," Bill and Ted choose Clue. The life-and-death tournament leads to other games. If the idea of a shrouded figure of death (with an Italian accent) spread-eagled on a Twister floor game isn't funny to you, then give "Bogus" a miss.

There are other amusing scenes, including one in which Ted's spirit invades the body of his father (Hal Landon Jr.) and the father starts speaking, well, like his son. The movie is also punctuated regularly with that favorite B & T trademark -- the imaginary guitar strum (accompanied by a real guitar on the soundtrack). But of all the discoveries our intrepid heroes make, none is more shattering than the one that greets them at the bottom of that abyss. After looking around at a less-than-spectacular hell, Bill turns to his friend and says, "We got totally lied to by our album covers, man."

   
© Copyright 1999 The Washington Post Company

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