Bill & Ted's Bogus Journey (1991)

Genres - Comedy, Fantasy  |   Sub-Genres - Fantasy Comedy, Farce, Slapstick, Teen Movie  |   Release Date - Jul 19, 1991 (USA)  |   Run Time - 100 min.  |   Countries - United States   |   MPAA Rating - PG
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Having already sent Bill and Ted through time with great success, the writers had to figure out something bigger and better for the sequel, so why not the afterlife? It may be bigger, as in more metaphysical, but better is another matter. Despite a universally praised performance by William Sadler as an hilariously frustrated grim reaper, Bill & Ted's Bogus Journey seems far less comfortable and amiable than its predecessor. Sure, it's supposed to be a "bogus" outing as opposed to an "excellent" one, but these guys' loveable cluelessness feels out of place in this darker, effects-laden milieu. Rules were never meant to apply to these movies, but the second movie is even less bound by them, which gives the production designers too much leeway to experiment with ambitious visual concepts that distract from Bill and Ted's winning rapport. The robot Bill and Ted also seem to spring from a combination of over-reaching and desperation. Because the two movies are fairly different, some viewers undoubtedly prefer Bogus Journey to Excellent Adventure, and the nearly identical $40 million box-office takes make it hard to reach a consensus. But sequels are designed to bring back the audience that made the original a hit, and that audience will likely come away disappointed. One can applaud Bogus Journey in the abstract for its lofty intentions -- a strange compliment for a film that celebrates the lowbrow -- but the execution is wanting.