Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure Reviews
I used to watch this film when I was still in school back in the day, it was massive! I adored it and watched it all the time. The basic premise is so simple yet the film has been so well crafted I fail to see how anyone can not enjoy it. Bill and Ted are a couple of metalhead school flunks in the present day, yet through a bizarre series of events both will eventually become the inspirational 'Great Ones' that changed the human race into a peaceful utopian society...through their music. The problem is if they don't pass their history class Ted will get shipped off to military academy and this future will never happen. Enter 'Rufus' to help and assist the bumbling duo in passing their final history test/exam thing.
Watching this recently I guess the main things that stand out to me are...well actually there are a lot of things that stood out and still hold up today. The visuals are great fun, sure its not as colourful as the sequel but I'm still really impressed at how good each period looks mainly. The duo travel across a few eras and I must say everything looks pretty darn good considering this was a bit of a tacky throw away teen flick. Each period is only seen briefly but it all holds up even though you might only see a single room or street. For example when they pick up Beethoven we see a really elegant 18th Century room full of aristocrats or noble folk and it looks good, believable. There's a real castle with a nice interior for 15th Century England (God knows where), a small taste of ancient Greece with pillars and statues, a section of a wild west town etc...My point is they clearly have had to stretch and struggle to create each period but full kudos to them as it all looks amazingly solid.
Not everything looks that good these days of course, some of the periods are a bit thin on the ground visually eg. Napoleon's war camp, prehistoric San Dimas and Genghis Khan's tent which is obviously an easy cover for not showing anything else. But again on the plus side all the costumes look really good and the casting is really good too. I still found Terry Camilleri's subtle performance as Napoleon to be hilarious with his little French mutterings and facial expressions, he fit this role like a glove, brilliant!. All the other cast really do look good with some nice makeup work, Abe Lincoln is especially good looks and performance wise, as is Beethoven and the almost mute Socrates. Honourable mention to Al Leong as Genghis Khan. Despite the age and silliness of this film I have no issues with any of the historical elements really. I'm just amazed it does look as good as it does because we all know how shitty these things can look with less care.
I mean apart from the joyous adventure there is so much to praise here. The soundtrack is awesome, pure awesomeness, yeah its totally 80's of course but if you like 80's tunage then you'll love this selection. There are some truly electric sequences which are bitchin' simply down to the musical track that accompanies them. Add to that the full on retro vibe going on here, I just love every minute of it, the sneakers, cars, tunes, technology, clothes etc...there is one scene where Billy the Kid and Socrates try to chat up these two girls in the mall. Oh my these girls are visually the epitome of the 80's, not that that's a surprise of course but little things like this brings the memories flooding back and really helped me enjoy the film. Oh and my God one of them is super cute!.
Admittedly the film does take a bit of a dive as you near the end. The whole history test thing they gotta take always did seem evil to me, what kind of high school test involves standing in front of an entire hall full of students and giving a lecture on history?! Jesus!. And lets be honest here, the presentation Bill and Ted give is pretty nondescript really, it is essentially a bunch of people giving them a pat on the back, its more of a magic show. There are bits I could pick at throughout the film like the fact they somehow manage to squeeze so many people into one phone booth and when they drop all the famous history figures back into their own times wouldn't their new knowledge and visions of the future change history dramatically?.
But lets be honest here, this film isn't anything more than a wild ride that probably wasn't expected to do much more than hit the videoshop shelves and rot (many similar teen flicks over the years did just that, 'Bio-Dome' anyone). There's a reason the franchise became a cult and that's because this first film is so damn enjoyable. The cool phone booth concept is genius, the ultra cool Rufus played by Carlin, the quirky and amusing looking 2688 future humans and of course the iconic dialog which has become a part of modern pop culture and predates the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles pizza surfing spiel. A most triumphant time travel fantasy which is pretty much a hidden gem these days, full of surprises and a franchise that Keanu Reeves was actually perfectly cast for.
The acting works and the music fits the flick perfectly.
Bill: England, 15th century.
Ted: We are in most excellent shape for our report.
Bill: Yeah, all we need is one more speaker from medieval.
Billy the Kid: Excellent.
Bill: Billy, you are dealing with the oddity of time travel with the greatest of ease.
A time travel movie starring two idiots that is a lot smarter than it probably should be, but it's not a bad thing.
Keanu Reeves and Alex Winter star as Bill and Ted, two slackers more concerned with getting their talentless band off the ground than finishing high school. Little do they know that the future depends on these two staying together to make excellent music, so with the help from a friend in the future, Rufus played by George Carlin, the two are given a time machine in the form of a phone booth in order to go back in time and borrow a number of famous figures for their final history report.
There are so many ways to look at this out of spite, but that is not fun at all and that is what this movie is about, having fun. So look past what doesn't make sense and aim for what really matters - two dudes traveling through time and interacting in these various places. Add to that some time travel logic that is actually fairly solid and different from Back to the Future in terms of its rules, giving it some originality.
This is just a fun and fast paced movie, and to me, that is excellent.
Abraham Lincoln: Fourscore and...
[looks at his pocket watch]
Abraham Lincoln: seven minutes ago... we, your forefathers, were brought forth upon a most excellent adventure conceived by our new friends, Bill... and Ted. These two great gentlemen are dedicated to a proposition which was true in my time, just as it's true today. Be excellent to each other. And... PARTY ON, DUDES!
The word "excellent" is used a lot in this movie, but sadly it doesn't quite apply to its story and script. But it's good fun nevertheless and time travel flicks never get old in my book.