automatons movie

Let’s time travel back to 2004. Bill & Ted writers Ed Solomon and Chris Matheson were working on the stop-motion animated Automatons, a wildly absurd comedy about a pair of neurotic robots who were built to kill Hitler, only to be buried at the bottom of the ocean and emerge 70 years too late. It was the kind of project that would have difficulty being greenlit even coming from the writers of Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure and its sequel Bogus Journey, much less coming 13 years after Bogus Journey hit theaters. But in the wake of the critical success of the recently released Bill & Ted Face the Music, Solomon revealed that he and Matheson are seeing renewed interest in Automatons, which could finally get off the ground after so many years in development hell.

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ed solomon chris matheson interview

If Chris Matheson could go back to 1987 when he and Ed Solomon were first writing the screenplay for Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure, he would tell himself, “Don’t write that gay joke.”

Even while trying to seriously ponder what he would tell his 26-year-old self, Matheson can’t help but crack a joke, which pretty much embodies the tone of the good-hearted sci-fi comedy Bill and Ted Face the Music. The long-awaited sequel, which comes nearly 30 years after the last Bill and Ted installment, Bogus JourneyBill and Ted Face the Music seems like it might be bringing a relic from a happier, simpler time. Its two lead characters, played by Alex Winter and Keanu Reeves with the same wide-eyed enthusiasm as they did 29 years ago, are still the dim-witted, optimistic slackers we know and love, now saddled with middle-aged burdens like marriage problems and missed potential. But that was something that Matheson and Solomon wanted to explore, even after decades had passed since Bill and Ted first traveled in time in that dinky old phone booth.

“In 2008, Ed and I had a notion, a starting point, which was that it just hadn’t worked out [for Bill and Ted], that that all this time passed, and they hadn’t saved the world and they hadn’t achieved what they set out to achieve,” Matheson told /Film in a joint interview with Solomon ahead of the release of Bill and Ted Face the Music.

So when given a deadline — write the song that will save the world, or reality will crumble — what will Bill and Ted do? Exactly what you expect them to do: cheat off themselves. And though it could seem a little strange that Bill and Ted haven’t changed much over the years, for Matheson and Solomon, it was important that these beloved slackers maintain the core of what made them so beloved — especially in times like these.

“We’re bringing back these uncynical characters to a much more cynical world,” Solomon said.

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bill and ted original script pages

Nearly 30 years ago, Bill Preston and Ted Logan stepped into a time-traveling phone booth and wreaked havoc on history. But in the process, they taught us an important lesson: Be excellent to each other.

It’s a simple, jovial message from two pure-hearted lunkheads, one that has resonated in the decades since Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure became a cult classic. Original stars Keanu Reeves and Alex Winter have since moved on — Reeves to breaking the bones of assassins, Winter to his tech and political activism – but it’s always excellent to revisit the cult comedy. And the latest jaunt back in time comes courtesy of one of Bill and Ted’s creators himself, writer Ed Solomon.

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rapture-palooza-red-band-header

There are a whole lot of great people in Rapture-Palooza, written by Chris Matheson (Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure) and directed by Paul Middleditch (Separation City). The film features Anna Kendrick and John Francis Daley as a young couple navigating the slightly hellish landscape of Earth after the Rapture. Craig Robinson is the Antichrist, and Rob Corddry, Rob Huebel, Paul Scheer, Thomas Lennon, Ana Gasteyer, John Michael Higgins, and Tyler Labine are on hand, too.

Like I said, a lot of great people… so we’ll just pretend for a while that the film looks a lot better than this red-band trailer makes it out to be. Knowing that this was written by the guy who created Bill & Ted helps, and this trailer seems to be angling for some of that spirit, and the weirder moments of the Harold & Kumar movies, too. But a lot of Rapture-Palooza looks a bit like Birdemic, only with recognizable actors. That might be good; a lot of people seem to like Birdemic.

There’s a lot of bad language in here, which is what earns the red-band status. Whether the language adds to the jokes is something we’ll let you decide. (I do like the vulgar crow.) Read More »

It’s a good week to be John Francis Daley. His show Bones (which I still refuse to watch because it is not a continuation of the Snoop Dogg ‘horror’ film) was just renewed for a seventh season, and now he’s been cast with Anna Kendrick in the Lionsgate post-apocalyptic romantic comedy called Rapture-Palooza. That’s the film where Craig Robinson plays the Antichrist who wants to take Anna Kendrick’s character to be his wife. Read More »

‘Bill & Ted 3’ Script is Finished

A year ago, Keanu Reeves said in an interview that he was “trying” to get a third Bill & Ted film made, and we weren’t sure if he was joking. In retrospect, I’m not sure why we were doubtful — it seems like every other popular film from the ’80s and ’90s is getting a reboot, remake, or sequel, so why not Bill & Ted? Over the past year, he and former co-star Alex Winter have mentioned Bill & Ted 3 in various interviews, and now some real progress has been made on the project: According to Winter, the script has now been completed. Read more after the jump.

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When Paramount picked up Paranormal Activity, which turned out to be a smash hit, the company helped push forward the idea of major studios making films on shoestring budgets. Paramount has been developing a program to make microbudget movies, and now Lionsgate has announced a ‘microbudget’ initiative that will ideally generate up to ten films per year. Lionsgate’s version of ‘microbudget’ is a little different than most — these are budgeted under $2m. That’s a lot less than what most studio films cost, but the term usually conjures up films costing around $100k.

Regardless, info is out on the first three Lionsgate movies. One is Rapturepalooza, starring Craig Robinson (Hot Tub Time Machine, The Office) as the Antichrist. More info on that and two others, after the jump. Read More »

How did a third Bill and Ted movie become the ’80s sequel that keeps coming up? Is there that much nostalgia for the middlebrow comedies of twenty years ago? Evidently so, as Keanu Reeves said during the Toronto Film Festival, “I’d love to play the role, I’d love to work with Alex [Winter] and [writers] Chris and Ed again, and we’ll see what they do.”

And now Alex Winter says that there is indeed an idea in play for a third film, and that a script is underway right now. Read More »