One of the big stories this week was that of Bill & Ted 3 finally coming to fruition as Keanu Reeves and Alex Winter will reunite on screen for the roles that launched Reeves into the mainstream. Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure launched his career after a handful of smaller roles, including as the goalie in Youngblood, gave him a burgeoning career. Twenty five years after that film was released and Reeves is a permanent A-lister; he’s headlined an armful of tremendous films to his name (and a ton of stinkers too) as he morphed from a comic actor to an action star and then into a dramatic actor of some note.
It’s odd to think of a film like this, about a couple of slackers traveling through time to kidnap historical figures of note to pass a history final, becoming a hit of substance but it did. It spawned a video game and a cartoon series, as well as sequel that didn’t do nearly as well as projected, and a trilogy has been rumored for years. The fact that a third film is going to be a reality is something now, with the only role needing replacement is that of Rufus due to George Carlin’s death, so the timing would feel right. What’s wild is that the two lead actors coming back are going to have wildly different reasons to do so.
Winter’s career hasn’t been as strong, as he’s the cinematic equivalent to Andrew Ridgeley in their duo, but he’s had a good career as a documentary film maker. That’s nothing to be ashamed of, obviously, but it looks a bit awkward in comparison when Reeves has gone on to headline a number of game changing films. He’s the second banana to one of the great movie stars of his generation, which isn’t a bad thing, so it’s understandable as to why he’d want to do this film. It’d be the biggest role in a film Winter will have taken since Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey and getting to be a headlining star one more time isn’t the worst thing in the world. Bill S. Preston, Esquire, is a role he originated and as such a Bill & Ted film would be incomplete without him.
He doesn’t have to do it, though, as he’s got a career of note. He doesn’t need one more trek to the top of the mountain of cinema. His career is pretty much set at this point; he had an iconic role and found his voice in a genre behind the camera. Definitely … most triumphant.
Reeves has had an odd career as of late. He’s done so many big budget films over the years that the indie world has allowed him to pick up roles where he can be an artist again. His resume is filled as of late with passion projects, small roles, interesting characters and films that cost less than he was paid in salary for any number of films over the years. He’s rumored to have made well in advance of $100 million for the Matrix trilogy, as well, and he’s got the sort of walk away money everyone who’s tried to make a career of acting wishes for. It’s an odd choice for him to pick up the mantle of Ted, of course, but Reeves hasn’t done any serious comedy in a long time. One can see why the film would appeal to him, as well. It’s a role that’ll push him to use talents he hasn’t had for a while.
He doesn’t need it either, though, as he could make films like John Wick every couple years to balance out his indie fare for a long time and no one would really complain. Reeves could walk away from film forever and his legacy is secure; his heights were so incredibly high that his lows seemed all that much greater by comparison. We’ll always have Point Break, Speed, The Matrix in the action film lexicon. He had one iconic role and turned into a career as a most excellent action star. Hell, someone forged his name on a contract to be a bad guy in The Watcher and he said “You know, I’ll do this anyway to not cost people a lot of money with a lawsuit.”
Neither actor really needs this film; it’s the difference between a third Bill & Ted film and a third Ghostbusters film. Dan Aykroyd and gang need that film whereas Bill Murray doesn’t. He’s the holdout for that film for a reason; Aykroyd has no problem revisiting the past and Murray has left comedy behind for the most part. He moved on and has a second act to his career as a serious actor of note, juxtaposed against a fairly legendary career as one of cinema’s great funnymen in the 1980s.
It’s why Ghostbusters 3 will never happen, as well. The one person who matters most cares the least whereas in Bill & Ted 3 the two people who matter the most care about it enough to say yes. A third Bill & Ted would be about as necessary on paper as a third film in that franchise, as well, so the fact that it’ll most likely have made its way into theatres first is astounding in any number of ways.
The question that keeps popping up in my mind as I contemplate the film, of course, is its necessity. Do we really need another Bill & Ted film? It’s the one thing on my mind as they announced the film’s production, as I understand the plot they’ll cobble together. This is about Bill & Ted as fully grown and mature adults, dealing with life in their 40s and what I imagine will be a plot track about how the future they were promised (of being the most important band in the world and changing civilization) hasn’t happened. There’s something there, I think, and if Reeves and Winter are willing to go for it one more time (when neither really has to at this point) then there must be something that intrigues them as artists to want to go for it.
But that pesky little question keeps coming up. Do we need another Bill & Ted film? We’re getting a Dumb & Dumber sequel that looks insanely awful in a couple weeks, as desperate stars do desperate things to recapture old glory, but neither Reeves nor Winter are doing that. It’s the decision of two artists wanting to say something more, as opposed to two stars wanting to extend their time in the spotlight just a little more.
It’s why I can’t throw this film into that Dan Aykroyd level of desperation just yet. This feels like an artistic move, not a “the paycheck was too good to pass” move, for a comedy franchise that consists of one surprisingly amazing film and one not so amazing sequel. Until we get more details … all I can hope for is that everyone involved is excellent to one another.
Stuff for General George S. Pimpage, Esq
Travis is back to tell you what the weekend’s box office is all about.
Joe Corey writes about The Big Sleep.
I wrote about Neighbors.
I sat through the latest season of Criminal Minds.
Travis wrote on a pair of Fantastic Fest features, Horns and Cub.
And now on MMC … the greatest delivery of one of cinema’s most profound lessons in life delivered by President Abraham Lincoln.
If you want to pimp anything email it to me with a good reason why. It helps to bribe me with stuff, just saying ….
A Movie A Week – The Challenge
This week’s DVD – Filth
One film that didn’t pop into theatres long enough for me to check out was Filth and as such when it popped up on Netflix I figured I’d give it a go round. I’ve been a fan of James McAvoy since he was in Wanted and enjoyed his work in the BBC version of State of Play. He was also really good in Last King of Scotland, among others, and he’s found a niche as a solid leading actor in small indie films from the UK when he isn’t playing Professor X in the X-Men franchise.
Thus Filth, a Scottish Bad Lieutenant of sorts, intrigued me. Thus I clicked play and it’s this week’s film.
Simple premise. Bruce (McAvoy) is a detective wanting to get a promotion to inspector. To do so he must solve the case of a dead girl, which he thinks will get him there. Along the way his personal life, and his predilections for all sorts of debauchery get him in trouble. The film is basically a Scottish clone of Bad Lieutenant … except a lot more bizarre.
It makes the Nic Cage version of that film look a bit tame, to be fair, but it’s not nearly as good as that. Port of Call: New Orleans was not a good film and this film is all sorts of awful; it mainly replaces things being good with being weird and it doesn’t work. This is basically a low rent version of that sort of film genre, nothing more, taking up space in the “wildly corrupt cop” genre.
What Looks Good This Weekend, and I Don’t Mean the $2 tall boys of Red Fox and community college co-eds with low standards at the Fox and Hound
Annabelle – A prequel to The Conjuring, except a doll goes all kill crazy apparently.
Skip it – This looks like a more serious version of Child’s Play … yawn.
Left Behind (2014) – Nic Cage is left behind after the rapture. Shenanigans ensue.
Skip it – They already did a trilogy off this film, with Kirk Cameron in the Nic Cage role, and that was all Jesus crazy bad. Remove the Jesus crazy and you’re just left with bad, I suppose.
Gone Girl – Ben Affleck may or may not have killed his wife.
See it – It’s based off a novel of same repute and looks like it’ll be a potential Oscar contender.
Scott “Kubryk” Sawitz brings his trademarked irreverence and offensive hilarity to Twitter in 140 characters or less. Follow him @ScottSawitz .
Tags: Alex Winter, Bill & Ted 3, James McAvoy, Keanu Reeves, Monday Morning Critic