It’s hard to believe that Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure is almost thirty years old. As it edges into classic “catalog” title status, it and its sequel Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey are acquiring some nostalgia factor. Viewing them takes one back to an era when Hollywood comedies were a little more script-driven and cinematic in style and not so reliant on stand-up comedians or SNL stars improvising. These two films just earned a comprehensive special edition in Bill & Ted’s Most Excellent Collection and fans who feel that nostalgia are likely to appreciate the treatment it gives them.
Both films look good here for films of a late ’80s/early ’90s vintage, with detail looking solid on both and colors being appropriately vivid. Excellent Adventure is the better looking of the two but that might have to do with Bogus Journey‘s reliance on opticals and other visual effects. 5.1 and 2.0 lossless stereo mixes are included for both films: the 5.1’s were used for this review and they’re simple but solid mixes that save much of the surround activity for the prominent rock soundtracks in each film.
There are also scads of extras on this set, carrying over the bonus features from a past DVD special edition of Excellent Adventure and adding new supplemental material for each film. Here’s the breakdown…
Commentaries: each film gets its own disc on the first disc and the main extras here are commentary tracks, two for each film. On both films, there is a commentary track featuring Alex Winter and producer Scott Kroopf with moderator Sean Clark. The second track on both films features screenwriters Chris Matheson and Ed Solomon.
On the first film, Kroopf and Clark provide insight into how they made an impressive looking film on the cheap, with plenty of scene-specific anecdotes as well as some nice appreciations of various cast members. On the second film, they focus on how they implemented their desire to change things up with the premise, including the director’s unique film references.
Matheson and Solomon focus on the development of the material on the first film’s commentary, explaining the genesis of different characters and plot elements as well as things were added or deleted in the different drafts. The second film commentary by this duo has a bittersweet tone, discussing how the script was written in a different frame of mind and giving frank admissions about the film’s third act issues and studio interference.
Time Flies When You’re Having Fun (1:01:14): this epic featurette is devoted to the first Bill & Ted film and includes input from Matheson, Kroopf, Keanu Reeves, Winter and several cast members. It focuses on the film’s oft-treacherous journey to the screen, with lots of twists and surprise bits of good luck on along the way. You also get a sense of how hard everyone worked to make it a quality film out of their respect for the script. There are nice tributes to director Stephen Herek and George Carlin along the way plus insight into how the film’s fun finale was substantially reworked and improved. It’s fast-moving and lots of fun for fans, who will really like all the cast anecdotes.
Bill And Ted Go To Hell (52:04): another new jumbo-size featurette, this time focusing on Bogus Journey and including Kroopf, Reeves, Winter, Bill Sadler and some other key cast and crew members, most notably makeup FX wiz Kevin Yagher. It explores the film from the angle of how everyone involved designed it to take big chances with the concept and the style of humor. There’s a lot of info on the visual ambition of the film, particularly the production design, and some frank admissions about how drastically the third act changed from script to screen.
A Most Triumphant Making-Of Documentary (30:53): an older making-of piece from an MGM special edition that covers both films. It’s of interest because it includes input from Stephen Herek, Ed Solomon and Pete Hewitt, none of whom appear in the newer featurettes on this set. You also get some interesting details not touched on elsewhere, like why San Dimas was chosen as a setting for the first film.
The Original Bill And Ted (20:15): a videotaped chat between Matheson and Solomon, who show the charming rapport of old friends as they reveal how they transformed a college-era comedy sketch into the material for a feature film, with lots of info on where ideas came from and how concepts developed.
Score (12:46): an engaging chat with Steve Vai, the legendary guitarist who supplied two tracks and miscellaneous guitar solos for Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey. He talks about his lifelong love of guitar and how he came to his work on the film. Along the way, there are fun musings on air guitar, his work on the film Crossroads and a funny tale about the Bogus Journey finale.
The Historical Personages Of Bill & Ted (15:27): an animated still show of historical figures portrayed in Excellent Adventure with a narrator rattling off facts about each one. A novel variation on the usual image gallery.
Air Guitar Tutorial (13:15): a couple of real-life air guitar “champions” discuss their philosophy of their hobby, techniques and give a demonstration. The most disposable item here, a little too self-consciously campy for its own good.
Vintage EPK (6:39): An old promotional piece for Bogus Journey that mixes film clips on-set footage with interview snippets of Reeves, Winter, Sadler and Hewitt. It’s more entertaining than usual for an EPK, with a clever Q&A format and funny quips from all involved.
The Linguistic Stylings Of Bill & Ted (3:41): a glossary of Bill & Ted’s unique lingo, with clips to illustrate each definition.
Additional extras: theatrical trailers and image galleries for each film.
To read Schlockmania’s film review of Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure, click here.
To read Schlockmania’s film review of Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey, click here.