Bill and Ted’s Bogus Journey
My choice to cover the second film of the Bill and Ted trilogy rests on the treatment of music by the story and its characters. Although the final film integrates music as a key factor within the story at the very beginning, it falls short of the subtlety and grandeur prevalent in Bogus Journey.
The film is unique in its celebration of music in itself, rather than a glorification of its performers, something much more common. There is a significantly greater good, revealing itself in the end, as the pair's music unites the world and solves its problems. It is no secret that without music, life would be a mistake.
The music-as-savior theme also plays a role in Ghostbusters 2. Although not as magnanimous as Bill and Ted, music’s role in Ghostbusters 2 is to transform an amalgam of evil goo (indirectly created by New York’s excess of negative emotion) into an ally, breathing life to the Statue of Liberty as the most recognizable beacon of hope. A sizeable number of films consider their own music or music in general as the centerpiece to their story, though none of them revere it to the extent as in Bill and Ted.
Even with the smallest gestures like the air guitars, song and album references, the story provides music as an answer to all ailments. It also boldly answers the secret of the meaning of life, and with that answer, even the Grim Reaper ascends to heaven. Then it becomes clear why the antagonist De Nomolos's fascist ideals are fear and order - they are incongruent with the freedom found in music. His defeat marks a breaking of bonds and surrendering to a magical life-giving force.
In fact, no greater celebration could be encouraged at the climax than by Steve Vai's rendition of God Gave Rock & Roll To You, signaling a victory of humankind. Having been forced to tune in for the show, the world rejoices in the defeat of evil and the ushering of a golden age. As Wyld Stallyns tour, crops increase, peace is achieved in the middle east and they go as far as to perform on Mars - all nothing short of a miracle.
This instantly recognizable moment, I believe, is set up in the first film, in the scene where our two heroes travel to the future. Not unlike a dream sequence, it presents a minor pit stop in Bill and Ted’s time traveling endeavor to offer reassurance. The wild future costumes and calming dark vibe sell the scene, but by far the strongest point is the music. Robbie Robb’s In Time brings an archetypal symbol to life and with its energetic promise of salvation, it plays out marvelously in connection with the sequel.
With its quirky simplicity, the film's ultimate message is that in all of the realms known to man, the earthly plane, heaven, and hell, the greatest good is music. Even in the hands of barely capable teenagers, the strength of faith prevails, as insisted by their insight from the future.
A most excellent adventure.