Back to the Future with Bill
In the new sequel, those time-trippiní teens share an adventure in hell!
By Frank T. Cosentino
The year is 2691 A.D. Students at
a university in San Dimas, California are being instructed by a man named
Rufus. What are they being taught? These potentially excellent
students are learning the totally excellent teachings of Bill and Ted, that is,
until the evil Denomolos takes it upon himself to rid the world of any inkling
of the two. He has the ultimate secret weapon Ė the evil robot twins of
Bill and Ted, which are sent back in time to take over the lives of the real
Bill and Ted and discredit them, thereby changing the course of history.
Just when you thought it was safe
to get back into your time machine, those air guitar-playing, heavy metal-loving
heroes of time travel are back in Bill and Tedís Excellent Adventure
II. Alex Winter and Keanu Reeves reprise their title roles as Bill and
Ted in a comic odyssey that takes them to heaven, hell and beyond to protect the
world from evil, save the women they love and, oh yes, win the local Battle of
the Bands contest.
If you thought the supporting
characters in the 1989 original, which included Abraham Lincoln, Joan of Arc and
Socrates, were a rather odd and eccentric bunch, well Ė you havenít seen
anything yet. This sequel boasts God, Satan, the Grim Reaper, two
Martians, the Easter Bunny and an array of other formidable forces as its
supporting cast. Recreating their roles from the original are comic great
George Carlin (Rufus), Hal Landon, Jr. (Capt. Logan), and former Star Search
spokesmodel and Dallas regular, Amy Stock-Poynton as Billís stepmom,
Missy Ė the center of his "minor Oedipal complex." What about
the "excellent" babes Bill and Ted rescued in their first
adventure? Theyíre back, too Ė only this time they are being portrayed
by Sarah Trigger and Annette Azcuy. Seated at the helm of this roller
coaster ride through the annals of time is director Pete Hewitt, in his feature
Twenty-eight year old Hewitt, a
graduate of Englandís prestigious National Film School, won the British
equivalent of the Academy Award in 1989 for his original 30 minute short film, The
Candy Show. He was chosen over 50 other directors to create a visually
intriguing new film that would stand on its own.
There was little doubt that there
would be a sequel to Bill and Tedís Excellent Adventure. The film
was the sleeper hit of 1989, and the enormously popular of Bill and Ted were
even spun off into a Saturday
morning cartoon series. Hewitt was ready to rise to the challenge and wasnít
concerned about comparisons that may be drawn between the two pictures.
"I think it used to be the case where sequels were sort of slapped together
based on the success of the original film. I donít think thatís the
case anymore. I think itís perfectly acceptable. I thought a lot
about whether it was a good idea to do a sequel and I think it doesnít really
matter if itís a sequel. What it boils down to is whether itís a good
script or not," says Hewitt.
In putting together the new
Bill and Ted film, producer Scott Kroopf, who also produced the original, as
well as Outrageous Fortune, and the recent hit Class Action, was
determined to round up as much of the talent responsible for the success of the
first film and then let them go in a new and different direction. He hired
writers Chris Matheson and Ed Solomon, who created the characters and penned the
original screenplay for Bill and Tedís Excellent Adventure, to come up
with a new script that would take the pair to previously unexplored and more
The creation of the "Bill
and Ted" characters came about in 1983 when writers Matheson and Solomon
were improvising comedy within a group of fellow UCLA students. They
invented histories and acted out routines for the seemingly witless pair, who
always appeared to be out of sync with the rest of the world, but perfectly
tuned into each other. Hewitt feels that it is the special relationship
which Bill and Ted share that is responsible for the success of the first film
and the immense popularity of the characters. "Everybody at some
point in their life has had a friend they could just turn around to and nod or
wink, or not even say anything at all, and still be completely understood,"
the director says. He also credits stars Reeves and Winter.
"Theyíre just so perfectly cast and so charming," Hewitt adds.
"The two of them are really good friends and it shows, it really
Although fantasy and science
fiction propel the plot, the most important aspect of this film, according to
Hewitt, "is definitely the comedy; the comedy from the relationship between
the two characters and also how they interact with whatís around them.
One thing Iíve been very careful to keep my eye on is that the places they go
to donít overwhelm them. The important thing is that itís Bill and Ted
in hell, and that we get to see hell . . . itís more important that we go in
and almost look over the shoulders of Bill and Ted and see how they react to
The accent may be on comedy, but
the sequelís fantasy element is still substantial. A top notch technical
team has been hired to help Hewitt create the mythical yet familiar places and
creatures which Bill and Ted encounter on their journey.
Richard Yuricich, an Oscar
nominee for his amazing work in the science fiction greats Close Encounters
of the Third Kind and Blade Runner, is supervising special effects
and serving as second unit director. Creating special make-up effects is
Kevin Yagher, best known as the mastermind behind the "Chucky" doll in
Childís Play and Childís Play II. Yagher also
designed and applied the make-up in three of the five Nightmare on Elm Street
Visual design became extremely
important in the making of this film. The idea was to keep the audience
intrigued but not overwhelmed by what they saw, so as not to take away from the
story. Working with production designer David L. Snyder, Hewitt used 25
sets built on three soundstages and other outside locales. Although no two
sets are alike, a subliminal feeling of circular shapes was used to tie them
together. Heaven is an assortment of white, gleaming cities built on an
enormous disc; classrooms of the future are domed and multi-colored.
As far as effects and design go,
hell posed the biggest challenge. "I wanted it to look hellish,"
says Hewitt. "I wanted it to look like a conventional, stereotypical
image of hell in so much as it was fiery, red rock and furnace-like, but at the
same time, be something you havenít seen before." To that end, many
computer-generated special effects were used, as well as split screen and a
variety of wide lenses that create odd perspectives of the strange, new worlds
Bill and Ted must venture through.
Special attention was also paid
to the music, as Bill and Ted are loyal rock and roll fans who have their own
band, Wyld Stallions (sic). A number of rock artists are used for acting
roles in the film, including Jim Martin, guitarist for the Grammy-nominated hard
rock group Faith No More. Martin is featured throughout as a
visitor in the future. In addition, a string of local bands perform in the
climactic Battle of the Bands concert scenes.
With the Bill and Ted sequel in
release the multi-talented Hewitt plans to direct a feature length version of
his acclaimed short film, The Candy Show, using a script he
co-wrote. His advice to anyone attempting to break into the movie industry
is simple: "Trust your instincts. Get some money, get some film, and
just do it."
Does the future hold another
excellent adventure for Bill and Ted? Hewitt claims that, box-office
pending, there is no talk of another sequel at this point in time. Whether
these best buddies return in a third screen outing or not, you can be sure their
motto will never tarnish: "Be excellent to each other" and party on,