Study Guide for Bill and Ted's Bogus Journey

1. Filmographic Reference and Annotation

(From Thomas P. Dunn and Richard D. Erlich, Clockworks . . .):

Bill & Ted's Bogus Journey. Pete Hewitt, dir. USA: Orion, 1991.

Sequel to Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure, which I cite below. Note evil robot versions of Bill and Ted, good robot versions of Bill and Ted, and a Hell in which surreal scenes are set inside a large, rusting, rather Victorian mechanism.

(Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure. Stephen Herek, dir. Orion, 1989.

The time-travel of two "valley boys" from southern California, who get unusual help completing a history class project. The time- machine in BTEA is an American-style phone booth at most only marginally larger outside than inside, which allows phone-booth stuffing of famous historical personages as the machine hurtles down the network of time [cf. and contrast Dr. Who's TARDIS]. The mechanism the film attacks is the comic rigidity of Bill's father; see Henri Bergson, "On Laughter." Rev. Thomas Doherty, Cinefantastique 20.1 & 2 [Nov. 1989]: 106 f.)

2. Questions and Comments

  1. Is Bill & Ted's Bogus Journey S. F.? If not, why not? Bill & Ted's Bogus Journey has: Robots, Metaphysical questions, Time travel, A futuristic utopian society threatened with tyranny and a message ("Be excellent to each other...!")
  2. While watching the Bill & Ted films, I identify mostly with the George Carlin character, who's an adult, respectable, and on screen a fair amount (I identify also with the history teacher, but he's a minor character). With whom do you identify? With Bill & Ted? If not, why not? They are the heroes, and they are (for most of you) your age.
  3. Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure was recommended to me by a firm feminist and has generally been admired by academic women I know (to say nothing of a rave review in so eminently intellectual a magazine as The Nation [the oldest US magazine]).

    a. Is Bill & Ted's Bogus Journey suitable viewing for intellectuals?

    b. Is Bill & Ted's Bogus Journey a step backward in its handling of women's issues than the original?
  4. Does Bill & Ted's Bogus Journey develop seriously the S. F. issues it raises? Does it develop seriously any of the issues it raises? If not, is it a serious film?

    a. I hold it a perversion (a wrong turning) in English-speaking culture when "comic" and "serious" became antithetical in colloquial English, so I won't accept the assertion that Bill & Ted's Bogus Journey is a comedy, hence, by definition unserious. Is the film serious comedy?

    b. Have you encountered much art with a better message than "Be excellent to each other (and party on, dude)!"