It’s been over 30 years since the premiere of ‘Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure’ (1989) and ‘Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey’ (1991). Let’s look closely at both of them, but especially the second one.
In the first part of the trilogy (‘Bill & Ted Face the Music’ was released in 2020) we meet two teenagers: Bill S. Preston, Esquire and Ted ‘Theodore’ Logan, one day before their history report is due. They have to pass it or they will flunk out of school and Ted will have to go to Oates Military Academy. So they go on a journey through time and space to meet historical figures and experience the history first hand. They behave very childish and seem not very bright but they have good hearts. They are able to provide true wisdom when they feel like they need to say something profound. Bill puts a hand on his heart and says: ‘Be excellent to each other’. And Ted ads: ‘Party on, dudes!’ because at the same time they are playful, just like children.
They believe in themselves and their dream of forming a band. And they trust their gut feelings. As we learn at the end of the film, eventually their music ‘will help put an end to war and poverty. It will align the planets and bring them into universal harmony, allowing meaningful contact with all forms of life, from extraterrestrial beings to common household pets’. So they will fulfill their purpose and their potential. The message of that film is that art is important and being playful and following our dreams is our purpose in life.
In ‘Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey’ we meet a totalitarian leader who wants to kill Bill & Ted before they can change the world. His fuel is fear, his engine – discipline and his ideal – order. But Bill and Ted have no fear. They are not even afraid of Death. They try to contact a New Age group who believes in ghosts but are mistaken for evil spirits and sent to Hell, where they realize that everybody has their own personal hell. So they play games with the Grim Reaper, which is a reminiscence of the Seventh Seal and the chess game between the knight Antonius Block and Death.
After they win enough games with Death, they all go to Heaven where they congratulate God on creating Earth. They also meet Station there – the most brilliant scientist in the entire universe, that is not from Earth or human. Station is actually two creatures who become One. So even though these films are a little bit outdated, with some chauvinistic undertones common at that time (women need to be saved, homosexual love is the target of the joke), in the end they send a great message of peace and love.
As Bill & Ted say: ‘We’ve been to the past, we’ve been to the future, We’ve been all around the afterlife. The best place to be is here. And the best time to be is now.’