Saturday, September 10, 2011

Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure (1989)

Seen: On my boyfriend's shiny new iMac, dvd rented from Hollywood Express in Cambridge (which is becoming one of my favorite places to visit).

Remember that movie band gig poster series I'm working on? Seen here and here and here and here and here? Yeah. Well Rich and Alexa both suggested I do a poster for Wyld Stallyns, a band I totally hadn't thought of! It had been several years since I saw Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure so a re-watch was necessary. Known as the film that launched Keanu Reeves to stardom and did very little for Alex Winter, it follows best friends Bill and Ted as they try to rock out and not fail high school. They have a huge history assignment due tomorrow and they have to pass it but don't know the first thing about ANYTHING. Luckily a dude (George Carlin) from a future society entirely founded on their fledgling band Wyld Stallyns' music arrives to lend them his time-traveling phone booth. They hop around several time periods and borrow various important historical figures to use in their presentation.

With their airhead personalities and goofy conversations, Bill and Ted are an oddly likable pair. It helps that both actors play dumb so well, and that their friendship is the most realistic thing in the movie. Their little metalhead references and completely insane ideas about history are constant sources of entertainment. As are their outfits. The cast is rounded out with plenty of historical caricatures who become influenced by the new decade, from an aerobicizing Joan of Arc (played by Go-Gos guitarist Jane Wiedlin) to a synth-happy Beethoven. Impressively, these figures don't just speak English in funny accents like you'd expect, so there's a lot of French and Greek and German befuddlement.

It's a very silly film, from the Wyld Stallyn-heavy vision of the future, to the gang of time-traveling famous people letting loose in the San Dimas mall, but it didn't quite hold up for me (I don't think I'd seen it since early high school). It's still a fun time, but it's not as funny as I remembered and it's not as ridiculous as it could have been. I can't quite explain what it's lacking, perhaps it was just that I had higher expectations from my memory of it? It is a great snapshot of a certain era of filmmaking (namely: just after Back to the Future happened) and definitely memorable, though.

And I promise it'll make for a great gig poster! Coming sooooooon.


Pair This Movie With: Ummmm there is the obvious Doctor Who tie-in! But mostly this movie puts me in the mood for Wayne's World.


  1. A true 80s classic.....
    I recently rewatched this one, and noticed a lot of jokes that I didn't quite catch the first time around, back when I was a kid.

  2. I do enjoy this film though I much prefer the sequel for its ambition.

  3. Although I have fond memories of Bill and ted, you're right to give it 3.5. I think nostalgia can sometimes cloud a critical judgment of the film and anything from the 1980s automatically gets extra credit from me for simply having that 80s aesthetic. But I do love time travel in general and I think this is one of the best because its so creative and has such a terrifically uplifting ending.