Whenever anyone mentions 80’s time travel comedies, the first movie everyone will immediately think of is “Back to the Future”, of course. But while “Back to the Future” is undeniably my favourite time travel series, “Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure” is easily on par with that franchise, in my opinion.
The plot concerns Bill S. Preston, Esq. (Alex Winter) and Ted “Theodore” Logan(Keanu Reeves), best friends who reside in San Dimas, California,and who co-found their own rock band “Wyld Stallyns”. However, they’re at risk of failing their History class if they don’t get their grades up. (Among other things, they believe Napoleon Bonaparte to be a “short, dead dude” and Julius Cesar to be a salad dressing). And to complicate things even further, Ted’s stern colonel father plots to ship him off to military school if the aforementioned grade problem doesn’t improve.
As their prospects look grim, Bill and Ted have a chance encounter with the mysterious Rufus (George Carlin), who offers them a way to ace their history report- via travelling back in time in a phone booth time machine (Doctor Who, anyone?) and meeting historical figures such as Abraham Lincoln, Sigmund Freud, Joan of Arc, Billy the Kid, Socrates, Genghis Khan, Napoleon and Beethoven, in order to help them with their assignment. Along the way, Bill and Ted become besotted with “princess babes”, Elizabeth (Kimberly LaBelle) and Joanna (Diane Franklin) when they travel back to medieval England, and the historical figures run amok in a local mall, and get arrested, causing much hilarity. Will Bill and Ted be able to round them together in time to give their history report?
“Bill and Ted” is a hugely wacky, yet enjoyable movie from 1989. For me, it features one of Keanu Reeves’ best performances in his career (well, possibly next to his role as Neo in “The Matrix” movies, that is). Whenever I was supposed to be studying for a history exam, I would “study” by watching this movie. It not only gave me an insight to the historical figures depicted in this movie, but a vision of how they might have behaved were they inserted into modern times. For instance, the film sees Joan of Arc taking over a Jazzercise class, Napoleon causing chaos at a water park (appropriately called “Waterloo”),Beethoven jamming out in a music store, and Freud foiling Billy the Kid and Socrates’ attempts to pick up girls in the mall in the most hilarious manner possible.
“Bill and Ted” was followed by a sequel, “Bill and Ted’s Bogus Journey”, in 1991. While it’s just as good as the first movie, and has its share of laugh out loud moments, I have always preferred the original movie just a little more. While “Bill and Ted” might be a little too goofy and silly for some kids, I’d recommend this movie to most kids. The content is mostly appropriate for kids, even though there’s a few jokes that may pass them by (namely, any jokes involving Missy, Bill’s young stepmother who is married to his father).
However, I predict that kids will immensely enjoy this movie, regardless of this, and that’s why I give “Bill and Ted” 4 and a half out of 5 stars, as it’s a hilarious trip trough time. Remember, “be excellent to each other, and party on”!