Bill & Ted's Most Excellent Collection
Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure (July 15/05)
Since its release in 1989, Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure has justifiably gone on to become a cult classic of epic proportions (it's spawned a sequel, a cartoon series, a live-action series, and Keanu Reeves' movie stardom). The bizarre storyline - which revolves around a couple of idiots that go traveling through time - is augmented by two superb central performances (Reeves as Ted "Theodore" Logan and Alex Winter as Bill S. Preston, Esq) and Chris Matheson and Ed Solomon's surprisingly clever and funny screenplay. Director Stephen Herek imbues the film with a straight-forward sense of style that quickly proves to be the most appropriate choice (one can easily imagine a more twisted filmmaker placing the emphasis on a gothic, Tim Burton-esque sort of vibe). But it's the chemistry between Reeves and Winter that propels Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure forward, even through the film's relatively lackluster third act. Both actors deliver performances that are engaging and charismatic; no small feat given that Bill and Ted could've easily come off as one-note characters (it's not as easy to play dumb as it may appear; just ask Pauly Shore). In the final analysis, Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure is a silly, broad comedy that has justifiably endured over the years.
Bill & Ted's Bogus Journey (July 15/05)
Despite the best efforts of everyone involved, Bill & Ted's Bogus Journey just isn't able to recapture the same kind of energy and atmosphere as its predecessor. The obvious increase in budget surely has a lot to do with this; the film is dominated by extravagant special effects, larger-than-life sets, and a visual style that's best described as cartoonish. The busy, almost frenetic storyline revolves around Bill (Alex Winter) and Ted's (Keanu Reeves) efforts to stop two evil robots from destroying their lives, even though they've already been murdered by said evil robots. Like other underwhelming comedy sequels (including The Spy Who Shagged Me and Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls), Bill & Ted's Bogus Journey eschews the simple, easy-going charisma of the original - choosing instead to emphasize a more ostentatious, gaudy sort of vibe. And while there are a few genuinely funny moments (ie Ted possesses the body of his father, Bill and Ted play board games with Death, etc), too much of the film is devoted to broad, special-effects driven sequences in which the titular duo find themselves trapped in one outlandish situation after another. While the filmmakers admittedly deserve some kudos for resisting the temptation to just remake the original, the various elements that made Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure such an unexpected delight are almost entirely absent here.