08 July 2008

Bill And Ted's Excellent Adventure

Bill and Ted Still Excellent for All (Bogus Journey Not So Much)
By Kristin Battestella
Excellent! Party On, Dudes! Wyld Stallyons! Eighties Babies know these gems hail from 1989’s Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure. The time traveling teen comedy may seem dated to some, but the humor and iconic moments can still be enjoyed by viewers young and old.

Despite using words like heinous, Bill S Preston, esquire (Alex Winter) and Ted ‘Theodore’ Logan (Keanu Reeves) aren’t the brightest bulbs. They spend most of their time hanging out and jamming guitars, so the duo is about to fail history. (‘Who is Joan of Arc?’ asks the history teacher. Bill responds, ‘Noah’s wife?’) Ted’s dad (Hal Landon, Jr.) vows to send his son to military school in Alaska, but time traveler Rufus (the late George Carlin) comes back in time to help the band. Wyld Stallyons can’t unite the planet and save the future if the boys are split! Bill and Ted are given a time traveling phone booth to observe history for their report. When Napoleon (Terry Camilleri) accidentally jumps in the booth with them, Bill and Ted decide to collect other historically figures to speak at their school- including Billy the Kid, Genghis Kan, Sigmund Freud (‘Freud Dude’), Beethoven (‘Beeth-Oven’), Socrates (‘So-Crates’), Joan of Arc (‘Ms. Of Arc’), and Abraham Lincoln.
Bill & Ted's Most Excellent CollectionAlthough Alex Winter has faded into eighties obscurity, Keanu Reeves has gone on to much success and intelligent film, including Speed and of course The Matrix trilogy. For years after Bill and Ted, Reeves couldn’t break free of the dumb persona so popular here. Although the onscreen antics and premise are presumptuous, the wit from the actors and script were oft tried in the eighties. Most failed, but Bill and Ted succeeds with the spot on tweedle dee and tweedle dumb chemistry. The actors look the part, and sound as stupid as they look.
Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure swims on its quirky humor, wit, and smart script by Chris Matheson and Ed Solomon (Men In Black). Director Stephen Herek (The Three Musketeers) balances silly looks and timed antics with sharp lines and absurdities at which you can’t help but laugh. The air guitar, bogus, ‘Missy-I mean Mom.’ so many of Bill and Ted’s little things have seeped into the cultural lexicon. I still my find myself saying excellent.
While the writers’ story is a bit hokey, Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure is one of the few movies where the story doesn’t matter. The basis of the movie merely serves as Bill and Ted’s jumping off point for time traveling goofs, mishaps, and eighties music montages. You can tune in at any point in the movie and see something you like. Of course now the clothes, simplistic eighties effects, and the very bad 89 vision of the future look ridiculous, but that has only added to the movie’s fun.
Do however skip the 1991 sequel Bill and Ted’s Bogus Journey. There are many humorous moments here from the returning cast, director Peter Hewitt (Garfield), and William Sadler is a lot of fun as the Grim Reaper. Unfortunately, the plot of Bill and Ted being killed by bads from the future, then being replaced by evil look a like robots while the real Bill and Ted play games with the Grim Reaper to win their way back to life, then getting help from a dwarf alien when they convert said Grim Reaper-whew! Bogus Journey has too many leaps of faith and not enough humor to combat the outlandish effort to keep up with the nineties. Bill and Ted’s charm is their eighties time capsule.

As stupid and gross out as comedies can often seem, they must carry a level of intelligence behind them. Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure has that wit that keeps you coming back, unlike Bogus Journey which is just dumb in most places. It’s fun to have a mini marathon of both films-and there are people out there who prefer the dumbness of Bogus (like my husband)-but Bill and Ted’s Bogus Journey tarnishes the excellent memory of the original film, as did most of the crazy merchandising that followed both films. Do I also recall an extremely brief TV series? Gosh I hope not!
The fallout from Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure is nothing new for audiences who have witnessed one too many franchises grow thin. The original film, however, deserves a comeback. If you haven’t seen Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure, pick up the affordable DVD. If you’re a fan of old, dig out that VHS copy. The PG-13 rating has nothing majorly offensive for wiser kids today, just a few nods of sexual innuendo. Spend the night in with the family and laugh with Bill and Ted. Most excellent, Dude!

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