Back in 2012, MGM gave the green light to the long-awaited sequel to the two beloved Bill & Ted movies: Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure (1989), and Bill and Ted’s Bogus Journey (1991). Originally, the studio tried to get Keanu Reeves and Alex Winter to reprise their roles. They’d be the adult versions of their characters, living in the future society they helped create, as members of the hard-rocking band the Wyld Stallyns. The film was to be titled Bill & Ted’s MOST Excellent Adventure.
Negotiations reportedly broke down when Reeves asked for too large a percentage of the gross. Alex Winter, whose career never reached the heights of his co-star, told friends he was bitterly disappointed for losing this major chance at a comeback.
Instead, MGM, (which now owned the rights after Orion went out of business), decided to completely reboot the series with new actors in the iconic roles. This received an important push after Adam Sandler signed on to executive produce the project.
Justin Bieber was tapped to play Theodore “Ted” Logan, in what was to be his breakout role as an actor. A then-unknown Miles Teller (later to find acclaim as a jazz drummer in 2014’s Whiplash), was brought on board to be William “Bill” S. Preston Esq. — both because of his comedic chops and also his eerie resemblance to a young Alex Winter.
The script went through several revisions, and soon began to suffer from “writing by committee.” It was even rumored that Patton Oswalt was brought in to add needed comedic polish to the script, a gig he’d famously performed on many successful films.
Sandler insisted that the studio use director Dennis Dugan, who had helmed Grown-Ups (2010) to modest success, but had also directed the disastrously unfunny Sandler vehicle Jack & Jill (2011). The studio capitulated to Dugan’s hire when Sandler cut his producing salary in half.
Once principal photography began, one disaster after another occurred, including on-set injuries, crew walk-outs, and the destruction of key sets by a typhoon. Bieber proved difficult to handle and inflated the film’s budget with odd demands, and by holding wild, expensive parties for his ever-growing posse of friends and hangers-on; plus in the midst of the shoot he was busted for reckless driving, and only studio influence kept him out of jail.
Finally, three months late and $17 million dollars over budget, a rough cut was shown to a select group of studio execs. The reaction was incredibly negative. It was reported that Bieber and Teller had zero on-screen chemistry, and even the talents of co-stars Seth Rogen, Christopher Walken, Kevin James, and Daniel Tosh couldn’t rouse the flaccid film to comedic life. The studio knew that it had an expensive flop on their hands, and decided to pull the plug before wasting tens of millions more on publicity.
Now, three years later, MGM has finally decided to release the film as a direct-to-video offering, assuming that audiences will find the film based on both word-of-mouth and the franchise’s cult status. Surprisingly, the movie isn’t the train wreck many assumed, and it’s weird enough that it may gain a following. Bieber and Teller are quite believable as idiots — Bieber naturally, and Teller because he’s a brilliant character actor. And the star cameos become a running gag, as the doofusy duo bump into famous people throughout history.
We recommend you check it out for yourself to decide whether or not it’s actually “excellent” — or simply bogus.Watch Bill & Ted’s MOST Excellent Adventure FREE!