A Third World Geek’s Memories of the Bill and Ted Franchise

It seemed impossible that a third Bill and Ted film was ever going to be made, especially since it’s been almost three decades since the last one, Bill and Ted’s Bogus Journey was released. The main stars have basically moved on to do different things. Keanu Reeves was now a huge Hollywood star with movies like the Matrix and John Wick series under his belt and Alex Winter now usually sitting behind the lens directing documentaries. Also, George Carlin had already passed away. So it seemed like there was no way Bill and Ted would ever become a trilogy.

But, thankfully, the impossible happened and Bill and Ted Face the Music was just released around a week ago!

Now, I’m actually rooting for Bill and Ted Face the Music to be a hit. And, so far, the critics have all been nice and giving the film positive reviews. I am definitely hoping it’ll be a financial success. I’m actually looking for a way to buy the film on demand but, since I’m in the Philippines, it still isn’t available in my area by any legal means. I know I can download it via more *ahem* unethical channels. But I really want to support the movie as much as possible because I was and, come to think of it, still am a big fan of the previous two movies. However, how I got to becoming a fan was way different from the way a lot of other fans got into it because I am in the Philippines, a third world country.

The first time I actually saw Bill and Ted, the duo, it was purely by accident. One of the local television channels were showing a making of vignette for the yet to be released movie, Bill and Ted’ Bogus Journey. Yes, the first time I saw them was from the second film, not Excellent Adventures, the first movie. At the time, I didn’t even know there was a Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure because I don’t think they ever showed it here in the Philippines in local theaters!

Anyway, I managed to come across this little behind the scenes clip of Bill and Ted’s Bogus Journey and, well, something just clicked with me. It wasn’t one thing. It was practically everything! The story about two naive and stupid teens exploring the afterlife with The Grim Reaper was totally new and fresh to me. The Grim Reaper wasn’t this guy all about gloom and doom. No, he was a guy who lost in Clue to a couple of wannabe band members. It was also my first time seeing someone do impromptu air guitar. I have seen people do air guitar before but it’s usually when they were listening to a song with a cool solo. Bill and Ted used air guitar to display something most triumphant. Speaking of “most triumphant,” the vernacular Bill and Ted spoke during that short clip, using words like “excellent,” “most excellent,” “heinous, “non-heinous,” etc. was just so funny and creative as well!

But the biggest thing that enamored me to make me wanna watch Bill and Ted’s Bogus Journey was Bill and Ted themselves. Everyone was in character during that quick making of clip. It wasn’t William Sadler under that white makeup and bald cap. That was The Grim Reaper talking to the camera. It wasn’t Alex Winter and Keaun Reeves talking about the film. It was Bill S. Preston, Esq. and Ted “Theodore” Logan just chilling and talking to the camera. The duo were just so incredibly likable and positive that I just had to see the movie when it came out here! I have seen a lot of comedies before featuring, oddly enough, dumb teen duos with one blonde and the other having dark hair. This just seemed like the typical pattern of the time. But Bill and Ted stuck out because they didn’t seem like people acting. No, it felt like Bill and Ted were real people! I mean, there was a loooong time wherein, whenever someone would do a Keanu Reeves impression, they would just be copying Ted “Theodore” Logan! And people will think it’s legit! That’s how real the characters felt!

Anyway, I did go and watch Bill and Ted’s Bogus Journey when it came out to cinemas here in the Philippines. And I loved it! This was a film that was so creative yet with a childlike kind of humor that I easily got into. There were a ton of moments that I really found funny and hilarious. Bill and Ted getting into heaven by reciting the lyrics to a Poison song. The personal hell of Bill S. Preston, Esq. is getting a kiss from his grandma. Of course, my personal favorite moment from the entire film was The Grim Reaper playing various infantile games against Bill and Ted and straight up losing to them. There’s just something so infectiously hilarious about the way Bill exclaims “It was Professor Plum!” with so much gusto that I still find funny even almost thirty years later!

For the longest time, though, I didn’t realize that Bill and Ted’s Bogus Journey was a sequel. Remember: this was the time before the Internet was a thing and you can look anything up. The movie was good as a standalone film. Maybe there were a few things that should’ve tipped me off, like Bill and Ted’s girlfriends being “two princesses” but, at the time, I didn’t know they were literal princesses from medieval times. I just thought that’s how Bill and Ted thought of them. By the way, that is also a testament to how solidly written Bill and Ted’s Bogus Journey is. It’s a sequel that didn’t require any knowledge of the events in the previous film.

Anyway, I realized much, much later, around the late ’90s that there was another film that came before Bogus Journey. That movie is, of course, Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure. I don’t remember how I found out but I did learn that, instead of exploring the afterlife like in Bogus Journey, it had the duo time traveling and collecting various historical figures to pass a report. That’s all I knew about the film and I thought it was really weird. But there was really no way to go out and watch it then. In fact, I don’t think I would’ve ever have watched it… if it wasn’t for cable TV.

A couple of month after I learned about Excellent Adventures, I basically resigned myself that I would never see it and went on with my life. Then, one day, I was perusing through the cable TV channel, specifically Star Movies, and I looked at the schedule. It was going to show Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventures at some godforsaken time slot, like maybe 6:00 in the morning on a Tuesday or something like that. Thankfully, it was summer vacation and, well, I thought this was the only time I was ever going to watch Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure. So I actually set my alarm for 6 AM so I could get up and watch it!

I will say that I also enjoyed Excellent Adventure but not as much as Bogus Journey. Maybe it’s because I saw Bogus Journey first and on the big screen. After all, my first time seeing Excellent Adventure was on a smaller screen at home so the experience is totally different. Some of the jokes were on point, like how Bill and Ted pronounce the name Socrates and the entire sequence in the police station was most excellent. I also did like the stuff involving Napoleon and the other historical figures exploring the town. The final report was also a very good scene as well.

However, the last couple of things do highlight one of the things that didn’t click for me and that’s we don’t get a lot of time with Bill and Ted. While the historical figures are funny in their own right, devoting time to them took time away from our dim-witted heroes. Also, Excellent Adventure did feel a lot like a lot of teen comedies of the time. It reminded me of movies like Weird Science, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, Teen Wolf and Back to the Future. Now, it’s not like Excellent Adventure is bad and it should be an honor to be compared to the other films I mentioned. The problem for me is, because it does feel similar to them, Excellent Adventure doesn’t seem as fresh or creative as a result.

After I did watch Excellent Adventure and there were plans to produce a third film, I really thought they written themselves into a corner in Bogus Journey. After all, at the end of that movie, it seemed like Bill and Ted had fulfilled their destiny and united the world in peace and harmony. Also, since Excellent Adventure was about time travel and Bogus Journey was about the supernatural and afterlife, where would the writers take Bill and Ted next?┬áTo me, the answer seemed obvious: Space! They already shown that there is extraterrestrial life in Bogus Journey with the Martian/s Station. So I actually thought Station was going to invite Bill and Ted and even The Grim Reaper to Mars to play a concert when something does happen that leads them into a totally non-non-non heinous odyssey… or something along those lines.

Of course, this didn’t happen and the next movie, Face the Music, has Bill and Ted going on another excellent adventure to get the song that unites the world from their future selves while their daughters go assemble the greatest band of history. I do like this concept as it does fit their story but I just really wanted them to go on a rip roaring adventure through space just so it would be a different sci-fi concept from Excellent Adventure and Bogus Journey.

It may have been almost thirty years but I am so ready to see Bill and Ted Face the Music. The reviews for the film have given me a lot of confidence that it’s a good movie. Then again, from my experience from the previous films, I already knew I was going to enjoy myself.

Which is the better Bill and Ted movie in your opinion? Excellent Adventure or Bogus Journey? Leave your thoughts in the comments section below!

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