There’s nothing grim about cinema’s greatest reaper. Bill And Ted’s Bogus Journey (1991) Review

When you’ve already journeyed deep into the past and travelled back to the future, where else is there left to go? For Bill S Preston, Esq and Ted Theodore Logan, the answer is simple: The Undiscovered Country.

When De Nomolos, a would-be dictator from the future, sends two robot assassins back to the past, it spells the end of Bill and Ted. But the end is just the beginning as Bill and Ted find themselves on a spiritual quest through the underworld and the afterlife on a quest to stop the evil robots, rescue their princesses and get back in time to win the pivotal battle of the bands.

The presence of a more clearly defined antagonist this time round drives a slightly more conventional narrative albeit one which unfolds in a most unconventional way. Winter and Reeves get to have fun doubling up as their evil robot selves while Joss Ackland is clearly having a ball chewing up the scenery as the evil and ruthless Chuck De Nomolos. It’s the addition of another new cast member, though, which proves to be the masterstroke and highlight of the movie: the grim reaper himself, played with gleeful relish by William Sadler.

A road movie through Hell, Heaven and a San Dimas hardware store, Death turns out to be the perfect addition to our beloved heroes, bringing sass and a world-weary irritation to bear on the slacker antics of Bill and Ted. Sadler’s performance is just a joy to behold and whenever he’s on-screen, he’s stealing the scene even if he’s in the background just making faces and Bill and/ or Ted ramble on.

There’s a cinematic literacy to “Bogus Journey” that elevates it above its predecessor too as it homages cinematic and television classics both obvious and unexpected. The character of Death, obviously, owes a great debt to Ingmar Bergman’s “The Seventh Seal” while the Heavenly environments of the afterlife are clearly inspired by Powell & Pressburger’s “A Matter Of Life And Death”. It’s also always nice to see Vasquez Rocks on screen, especially as it’s foreshadowed by a scene from Star Trek’s “Arena” earlier in the movie.

Not quite as easy and breezy as the first one but, arguably, cleverer and more cohesive with a sly, sardonic wit that both celebrates and self-deprecates its main characters, “Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey” is that rarest of things, a sequel that is most triumphant.

8/10

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