This week, my facebook feed blew up with other fellow 90s kids proclaiming that the Wyld Stallyns themselves, Bill S. Preston (Esq.) and "Ted" Theodore Logan are on their way to making a return to cash in on 90s nostalgia.
I have a theory that every cultural nostalgia cycle follows roughly the same pattern. It always skips a decade from the end of the one your idolizing. The reason being, it takes roughly that amount of time for kids who grew up consuming the culture to get to positions of creating the culture. When they start creating their own movies, tv and music the nostalgia rolls in for the decade they grew up in.
For example, we had "Happy Days", a loving send up of the 1950's "good old days" come along in the mid 1970s. The end of the 80's brought us a lot of the best Vietnam movies set in the 60's. Of course, "That 70's Show" codified 70's nostalgia in the late 90's, followed by the ill fated spin off "That 80's Show" in the early 2000's.
Now it's the 90's turn. We've already seen Dumb and Dumber get a 20 years later sequel and it looks as if Bill and Ted are going to be next. They're going to run into exactly the same problem. You can't age up idiot characters without losing what made them funny to begin with.
Beyond the novelty of seeing these two guys together again, this has all the makings of a let down. The 90's was most notably the "slacker" generation. It was the generation of not only B&T, but "Clerks", "Beavis and Butthead" and "Wayne's World" (at least in my sphere of influence).
Now it's not impossible to make a worthwhile sequel to a movie featuring gleefully stupid characters. Beavis and Butthead were able to make a comeback after sitting out the 2000's, but, being cartoons, they have the advantage of not physically aging so bringing them back was easier. Kevin Smith managed to move Dante and Randall forward with "Clerks 2", but that was a different breed of comedy based less in over the top parody and caricature.
It's not the same with Bill and Ted. With so much time having passed between flicks, you're left with a writer's dilemma. Do you have your characters trapped in perpetual (outdated) adolescence just to give the audience a cheap nostalgia bump or do you have them grow up? Either way is a bad idea.
Bill and Ted along with Wayne and Garth exist as parodies of surfer dude, metalhead 90's culture ("Duuuuude!"). The appeal of the characters was they were broad, over the top caricatures of 90s kids. When I see Mick Jagger carrying on like he's still a teenager, it's all kinds of sad.
The reality of doing sequels to these kinds of movies is that eventually these idiots will grow up and become functioning members of society. I did just as you did.
As they are, Bill and Ted exist forever as these lovable dillweeds who remain forever youthful and forever gleefully stupid because they are within the confines of their previous movies. That's the problem with building comedy around characters who aren't that bright (but only in a doofus teenager kind of way). Eventually we all grow out of that phase.
I can think of nothing sadder than seeing Bill Preston and Ted Logan: normal guys, except for seeing Bill Preston and Ted Logan: exactly the same guys as they were 20 years ago.
That's the Catch 22 here. If they change the characters, they alienate the fans who want the nostalgia kick, if they don't they alienate fans who want something fresh.
Sometimes, it's best to just leave it alone.
P.S. - Without George Carlin, it just won't be the same. Like the Ghostbusters 3 without Harold Ramis.
What do you think? Are you excited about the return of Bill and Ted or do you think it's totally bogus?