Bill And Ted’s mid-life crisis

News Robert Keeling 12 Oct 2011 - 11:28

Keanu Reeves and Alex Winter may be ready to unleash a third Bill & Ted movie, but do we really need a belated sequel? Here’s Robert’s view…

A few months ago now, the most triumphant Keanu Reeves confirmed that a script for a third Bill & Ted movie was in the process of being finished. Shortly after, Alex Winter tweeted that he now had the finished article in hand. The sequel that nobody saw coming was suddenly becoming very real. The screenplay has been written by Chris Matheson and Ed Solomon, who also penned the first two outings, but as yet no plot details have been confirmed.

It would appear, though, that the film is indeed powering ahead, and the Wyld Stallyns will once again be bringing the rock to a screen near you. Recently a website (which may or may not be official, but all signs suggest it isn't) has been launched at www.billandted3.com, featuring a vague but nevertheless intriguing poster. It features the heroes’ phone box in pride of place, along with the tagline, “In time… everything will be alright.”

I can't help but feel a little bit apprehensive about the whole affair, however. Other 80s movies rebooted for a 21st Century audience haven't proved especially successful. For examples, see the muted responses to the revived Terminator, Tron, Wall Street and, of course, Indiana Jones franchises. In the case of Tron and Indiana Jones, they both lost the heart of the original movies, and instead, replaced them with flashy new CGI (flashbacks to Shia LaBeouf, monkeys – oh God. The horror).

Wall Street, meanwhile, naively tried to bring perhaps the most 80s movie ever into a contemporary setting to no avail. And like Wall Street, there was something distinctly of its time about Bill & Ted. The heavy metal slacker characters are very much a product of the late 80s and early 90s, and the days of Mötley Crüe and Poison raising hell on Sunset Strip are a thing of the past. How will the tale of two talentless metalheads translate into the modern era, where hard rock is now mainstream, and the X Factor is king?

Presumably, however, given the lead actors’ current age, they won't be playing their younger selves, and will instead play adult versions of Ted Theodore Logan and Bill S Preston. Perhaps they will, therefore, have matured into embarrassing dads with leather jackets, Megadeth T-shirts and bandanas to hide their bald patches. Each will have morose teenage kids with straightened fringes and skinny fit jeans, who just don't appreciate the genius of Eddie Van Halen, and foolishly don't believe that a Kiss song actually can change the world.

Ted now suffers from a crippling alcohol addiction that began when his medieval queen-wife killed herself because she couldn't adjust to modern life, and had a break down at the mere concept of Argos. Bill has to work a second job as a school janitor to make ends meet, and bores all the kids there with tales about how he was always destined to save the world one day, and used to hang out with the Grim Reaper.

Chances are this won't be the direction the new movie takes, as harsh reality rarely has a place in light-hearted time travelling adventures. There have actually been some vague allusions to the plot by Keanu himself, who stated the following: "When we last got together, part of it was that Bill and Ted were supposed to have written the song that saved the world, and it hasn't happened. So, they've now become kind of possessed by trying to do that. There's an element of time and they have to go back."

This doesn't make a whole lot of sense to me, since at the end of Bogus Journey, they came back to the present day and performed said song to an international TV audience. That was in the early 90s. How can they still be struggling to write a song that was on TV, and presumably recorded by the TV station? Just get a hold of the tape. Surely, at the very least, a viewer could hum them the tune. Maybe I’m not fully understanding the finer points of the science behind time travel, but adopting standard Back To The Future rules, if the band time travel back to perform a song in the early 90s, their future is then automatically altered and said song is out there in the ether.

Also, during the closing credits of Bogus Journey, didn’t we see a montage of what happened to them after their performance at the battle of the bands? I seem to remember a barrage of newspaper headlines professing their resounding success in the years immediately after the contest. Weren’t they the first band to play on the moon? Unless all of that is discounted, then I don’t see how they can get to middle age and be struggling to catch a break. Time travel is confusing.

Part of the charm of the two existing Bill & Ted films was that neither one took itself too seriously. There was the odd cheesy moment, such as the bizarre meeting with ‘the three most important people in the world’, but on the whole, they both reveled in their own ridiculousness. The biggest mistake the makers of Bill & Ted 3 could make would be to take themselves too seriously and seek to try and crowbar in some kind of broader message. Leave well alone real-world issues and socio-economic problems, and focus on the one central premise that stood them in such good stead the first two times… rock and roll could still yet save the world.

Anyway, it remains to be seen what the film will involve, but I hope they tread very carefully and don't Lucas all over a cherished childhood movie. I dread to think that this will become a trend. Maybe we’ll see a Labyrinth sequel where Jennifer Connelly returns to the Goblin King's realm only to find he's now on the run from the authorities over charges of gross indecency. We may see a fourth Back To The Future, where a middle-aged Marty and a geriatric Doc travel through time completing the Doc's bucket list before he guns it up to 88mph for the final time.

As curious as I am to see what route they will take with a third Bill & Ted outing, I am most definitely approaching this forthcoming adventure with extreme caution.

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