Monday, August 30, 2010

An Evening with Bill & Ted

The New Beverly Cinema is labeled as the premier revival movie theater in Los Angeles and it deservesngly earns that title as it continues to host special events like they did on August 29th with a double bill of Bill & Ted's. Not only did the quaint theater host a double feature of "Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure" and "Bill & Ted's Bogus Journey," but Bill S. Preston Esquire himself, Mr. Alex Winter was in attendance to introduce both films and do a Q&A in between the double bill. Read the full rundown below...

Growing up I was something of a fanatic about Bill & Ted's. I went to see 'Excellent Adventure' opening night as a celebration for something regarding school. I use to think it was promoting out of grade school and into Jr. High, but the film released in February, so it had to be something else. Anyway, my dear Mother took me and the result was one the most re-watched films of my past since "Empire Strikes Back." I became addicted to the teen comedy. I saw it about 10 times in theaters and countless more once it hit home video. A best friend of mine in Jr. High and I would watch Bill & Ted's everyday after school at one or the others house. At school during lunch we would even re-enact our favorite scenes, and yes we totally dressed like Bill & Ted. We got made fun of pretty routinely for being so obsessed with the movie, but we didn't care. I remember when 'Bogus Journey' was coming out we studied the trailers and began to design our costumes for the sequel. It was our goal to go to our local multiplex opening day dressed as Bill & Ted in their sequel garb. Nearly forgot, I was always Bill S. Preston Esquire and Patrick (the friend) was Ted 'Theodore' Logan.

Fast forward 19 years to present day and I'm still just as in love with these two films, however I do not watch them everyday nor do I continue to dress up like Bill (that actually stopped in High School). The New Beverly Cinema is known for showcasing some classic niche films and this billing seemed to be exactly that. The Bev was packed for the Sunday evening double feature. It was great to see so many Bill & Ted's fans coming out of the wood work to fill up the theater. Their was a great energy in the air. Tons of friendly faces all psyched to see one of the most triumphant teen adventures ever.

As the theater filled in and everyone settled into their seats Julia Marchese greeted the crowd and introduced Alex Winter. Mr. Winter looks pretty much exactly the same. Sure he's aged, but he still has that baby face that made the wide-eyed Bill S. Preston so hysterical. Winter talked briefly about the film by saying that when they were making it no one thought it would ever get released theatrically. He said everyone thought 'Excellent Adventure' would be released as a late night cable movie and would ultimately go unnoticed. Thankfully, it wasn't and instead was a moderate success at the box office opening at #3. Obviously 'Excellent Adventure' did well enough to conjure a sequel, but Alex Winter revealed to the crowd that both films had obstacles in their way prior to release. 'Excellent' sat for nearly 2 years before releasing in 1989 while 'Bogus Journey' was also stalled to be released as a Summer tentpole. 'Bogus' opened at #2, but ultimately made less that 'Excellent' in its domestic numbers. That is enough about numbers, those figures don't matter anymore, Bill & Ted have built a massive following of fans that love them regardless of B.O. totals.

'Excellent Adventure' played without a hitch. The crowd ate it up. It was real nice seeing the original 35mm print on a big screen again. Not to mention with a crowd who knew the film as well as I did. The theater did their fair share of pre-giggles before a joke they knew was coming, but it was a excellent experience. Truthfully that helped add to the overall experience. Hearing what jokes other loved the most. Or those classic free-spirited looks Keanu Reeves delivers time and time again still get an overwhelming giggle out of the crowd. 'Bill & Ted's' does feel dated, but it is timeless. It is a perfect time capsule of the late 80's. It is a one of a kind adventure/slacker/comedy. Sure their had been other slacker comedies that pre date 'Adventure' like Fast Times at Ridgemont High, but nothing like this and nothing that remains so half-witted yet so sophisticated.

In between the films Julia Marchese and Alex Winter came back on stage a did a 15 minute Q&A followed by some time to meet and greet Bill S. Preston. Alex Winter revealed that he did not film any scenes in San Dimas for 'Excellent Adventure.' It was primarily filmed in Arizona, a couple exterior shots in San Dimas (Raging Waters, San Dimas High School) and a few scenes shots out of the country. The Socrates scene is actually filmed in Rome. Winter noted that particular scene was so incredibly noise polluted they had to later loop the audio. Of course a few scenes were shot at Raging Waters and Alex Winter told us that one time he went to the Water Park with his son. He said he never thought of it at the time, but once he was there, he was treated to an onslaught on Bill & Ted's fans giving him looks or approaching him and his son. Alex Winter and Keanu Reeves remain friends and still have kicked around ideas for a third Bill & Ted movie, but Alex stressed he does not want to just put out any old sequel. He wants it to be worth making. A side note, to any of you that may have debated which is better; 'Excellent Adventure' or 'Bogus Journey,' Mr. Winter sides with the latter.

'Bogus Journey' is one of the better sequels out there. It is pretty incredible how good it really is. It takes the original film and expands it in triumphantly innovative way. The follow-up adventure is one of the most imaginative and hysterical films let alone sequels I've seen in a long time. 'Bogus Journey' is also just as re-watchable as its predecessor. Like 'Excellent Adventure' I've watched the sequel countless times and know it back and forth, so seeing it again on a big screen was most non, non, non heinous. It felt that the New Bev crowd was less familiar with 'Bogus Journey' than they were with 'Excellent,' which isn't surprising, but I'm thinking the screening reminded a few how excellent 'Bogus Journey' really is. The film has just so much going on, all of which is entertaining and continuously hysterical. From the Evil Robot Bill & Ted to Death to the Stations, the film is just jammed packed with a most pleasing experience.

Overall the 'Bill & Ted's' double feature at the New Beverly Cinema was most excellent experience. If you are reading this and are thinking, "Damn, I want to see Bill & Ted's double feature with a crowd who loves them just as much as I," you are in luck! Because tonight August 30th, the New Bev will have a second and final screening of both films. Alex Winter will once again be in attendance along with screenwriter Ed Solomon. So hurry up, stop reading and get over to the New Beverly and party on dudes!

Visit the New Beverly website and future events!


It was nice to compare/contrast your night with the night I attended. Dug that bit about Winter and his son going to Raging Waters. I agree, I liked the 2nd even more, even though it doesn't seem to get the props the 1st one got. People who left between films missed out big time. Anyway, great write-up (and cool pic w/Winters, too)!