Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure - 1989
Director(s): Stephen Herek
Writer(s): Chris Matheson and Ed Solomon
Cinematography by: Jess Hall
Editor(s): Laura Jennings
Cast: Keanu Reeves, Alex Winter, George Carlin, Terry Camilleri, Dan Shor, Tony Steedman, Bernie Casey, Diane Franklin and Kimberley Kates
I have used Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure in the past to see how simpatico I am with a new stranger. Our future, or lack thereof, will be based on how they response to my query; "Have you ever seen Bill & Ted's?" This film is also the coming out party of Keanu Reeves, the man in front of one of my most anticipated films of 2019, John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum. And it is the thirtieth anniversary of the release of Bill and Ted, so how could I not talk about this film, so let's.
The story takes place in 1988's San Dimas California. We follow William "Bill" S. Preston Esq. (Winter) And Theodore "Ted" Logan (Reeves), two stereotypical stoner dudes of California trying to make it big with their band, Wyld Stallyns. The only problem is that they are flunking out of school and they don't know how to play their instruments. Their history teacher gives them a chance to make up their entire grade with the final paper on historical figures. Rufus (Carlin) is sent back in time to save them from flunking school since their world's prosperity depends on the success of Wyld Stallyn. He appears in a time-traveling phone booth in front of the gas station. They decide to use the time machine to bring back the historical figures to their time and hijinks ensued.
Look, if you read this summary and your first thought is; "why didn't the time traveler just write the paper for them?" You and I cannot be friends. Their journey is what helps shape and mold them into the leaders our future needs. Matheson and Solomon wrote a script that balances the physical humor with clever details, and is elevated by the sweetest / dumbest leads. The audience quickly warms up to them not because it is funny to laugh at the stupid things they say (it is funny), it's their endless charisma and positive attitude towards everything they are presented. The connection created with the audience is effortless, and within ten minutes of the film, you can't help but to fully root for their success.
Quick note: Yes, I know the CGI is mind boggling bad. Get over it. This movie is funny and charming. You didn't come for the special effects.
Most of the comedy comes from the fish out of water experience from the historical figures in the mall. Billy the Kid trying to flirt, Joan of Arc leading an aerobics class, Freud being a pervert and Genghis Khan destroying the sports goods section of the mall. The rest comes from the leads endless amount of quotable one-liners; "69, dudes." and “All we are is dust in the wind, dude." Delivered with so much genuine enthusiasm, that whoever says Keanu Reeves cannot act is a fool. Millions of actors have tried to pull off this character, and they come across disingenuous and unfunny. It is not as easy as Reeves makes it look.
I compare watching movies to going out to eat. There are days when you want to dress up, sit at a table with cloth napkins order a nice meal with an overpriced glass of wine; you want to watch a Phantom Thread. But there are does days that you want to wear comfortable clothes, walk into a shady establishment because you know that they serve the best burger and fries in town. Nothing beats an excellent unhealthy burger, and that is Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure. Technically you have to call it junk food, but it is so well made, and it is so satisfying that you know you will come back to it over and over again.
Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure is Why I Love Movies.
If you like this review let me know in the comment section down below. Subscribe to my newsletter so you are always up to date with all my reviews. Also, follow me over at Twitter (@yILovemovies) or over on Facebook if you want to have a conversation about movies.