A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Bill & Ted's Bogus Journey is the 1991 sequel to the better-known Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure. In this installment, evil robot versions of Bill and Ted are sent from the distant future to kill the real Bill and Ted before they have the chance to shape a positive destiny for humankind and the planet. While much of the dumb slacker humor holds up, some of it has not, including two instances of a homophobic slur being used, and evil robot Ted using slang to express his sexual arousal while looking at a picture of one of the English princesses who are their girlfriends. Expect some profanity, including "s--thead," and "d--k." Some sexualized female stereotypes. Drinking and cigarette smoking in one scene, and cigar smoking in another. There's also a fair amount of product placement, particularly from Pepsi and Miller Lite, and in this sequel, the Circle K is also a place where "strange things are afoot." Much of the movie takes place in Hell, where the guys (played by Alex Winter and Keanu Reeves) meet Satan and face their fears.
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What's the story?
In BILL & TED'S BOGUS JOURNEY, Bill (Alex Winter) and Ted (Keanu Reeves) are two teenagers who like to hang out and shred on guitar. That is, until an evil dude from the future threatens to kill their Utopian dream by sending back in time two evil androids who look like Bill and Ted but are so ... not them. When the evil Bill and Ted push the real Bill and Ted to their deaths, the two ghosts have to travel through Hell in order to regain their mortality and win the rock music contest that their destinies rely on.
Is it any good?
As the sequel to Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure, this movie doesn't hold up to the first movie's fresh quality. Though there are some laugh-out-loud moments, Bill and Ted seem to be stumbling through the gates of Hell to get to the grand finale. Moreover, we don't get enough of George Carlin in this movie, whose character Rufus created a nice foil to the slacker pace in the first movie.
Perhaps, too, the airhead stereotype has been reprised so often that the 21st-century viewers can't appreciate how illuminating Reeve's' characterization of Ted was in the late '80s and early '90s. We now see echoes of this slacker character all the time, but his portrayal was one of the first to define a generation. Keeping that in mind, parents who grew up in the '80s might enjoy introducing their tweens to a little lighthearted fun care of the boys from San Dimas.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the "slacker" stereotype. What does that mean to you? Do you consider Bill and Ted to be slackers?
The "dudes" shred on guitar, and the "babes" are treated like prizes. Are those stereotypes? If so, what message does that send to viewers?
Death -- AKA The Grim Reaper -- ends up being a pretty decent dude in this movie. How does playing down death and dying work as comedy? Where can it go wrong?
In two scenes, the guys use a homophobic slur. In many movies from the '80s and into the '90s, there are scenes in which gross stereotypes based on race, ethnicity, and sexual orientation are used for the sake of humor, as well as humor rooted in fat-shaming and ageism. Besides being lazy attempts at humor, how do these jokes perpetuate hurtful stereotypes? Why do you think these kinds of jokes were accepted in our culture for so long?
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