In preparation for the upcoming Bill & Ted Face the Music, I dove into these Keanu Reeves and Alex Winter-led cult classics with such optimism for the pair of them. Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey ramps up the cult attributes, leaning hard into its loveable loser duo, but not bringing about any form of interesting growth or expansion for the settings of its various realities. Tasked with saving the world once again, we pick up five years after the events of Bill & Ted’s Big Adventure, still failing musicians, and still bumbling their way to greatness.
Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey clearly enjoys the merits of a bigger budget. It experiments with just about any environment it can think up, and there’s little cohesion between the various settings we find ourselves in. Without a time machine to convince us of our rapidly changing setting, we’re left with the premise of death, a loose narrative that lets our characters flow from one punchline to another. The punches they throw are underwhelming, inarticulate moments that don’t slot together. Any conception of plot is lost relatively quickly, and instead we find ourselves following Bill & Ted without any real structure.
Some of the special effects are quite fun, Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey is rather consistent when it comes to the set and costume designs throughout. Rufus’ future setting is the sleek, 90s vision of the future that I was expecting, whilst robot Bill & Ted look exceptional. The ghostly CGI is horrible, but they do lead to some enjoyable comedy, Hal Landon Jr’s impersonation of Reeves’ work as Ted is absolutely incredible. It’s brief, but by far the best moment of the film. It’s a film filled with these moments, great scenes that are all too short. Few and far between, they’re unfortunately not great enough to make for a wholly engaging experience. William Sadler’s turn as Death is truly amazing though, so at least the replacement of Rufus (George Carlin) isn’t a wholly wasted endeavour. It’s quite strange to have Carlin in only the opening and ending, but Sadler gives a solid supporting role on par with that of the time traveller.
Scattered remnants of what made the first film so enjoyable, the second outing of these two idiots is serviceable, but wholly underwhelming. Filled with drinking, cheap one-liners and “robot chubbies”, it’s full of the teenage cringe humour I’ve come to hate. It’s all the tropes of the first film amplified to an extent I simply hadn’t expected. Crass humour, cheap shots and shortcuts at every occurrence, and ultimately not all that interesting or entertaining. Of course, it does have the charms of its two leading lads to lean on, but there’s only so much Reeves and Winter can offer up. Some of the strangest nods I have ever seen to The Seventh Seal, but certainly not the worst, Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey isn’t without charm, it just feels rather inconsequential.