Released 25 years ago, Bill & Ted just as triumphant today. Must have seen this 5x in theaters, then wrote Wyld Stallyns on jeans jacket…
Has it really been 25 years since the formation of the Wyld Stallyns? Their music is such a huge part of our lives, the foundation of our society; it’s hard to remember a time when they weren’t with us.
Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure is a dramatized biopic, detailing that famous incident in the past when our fearless leaders nearly lost their way, ending the Stallyns before they even got started.
The film centers on the celebrated decision of The Three Most Important People in the World to send the Prophet Rufus (played here by George Carlin) back through the Circuits of Time to help the great ones prevent the disbanding of the Wyld Stallyns by passing their history class.
In this telling of events, Bill S. Preston, Esquire (ably played by Alex Winter) and Ted “Theodore” Logan (portrayed in this version by a young Sir Keanu Reeves) are beginning their journey to perfect the music that will define our way of life, but they’re having a few problems. Their devotion to the Stallyns is affecting their ability to master their studies and as a result they are flunking history. (Ed. Note: A risible notion – Lords Bill & Ted practically ARE history.) Actor Bernie Casey was tapped to play the controversial teacher Mr. Ryan, who had the temerity to threaten the Great Ones with such failure, although it must be noted that he provided them with the impetus to excel in their studies by means of “the final project”. Casey is certainly up to the task of handling such a complex character, so it is perhaps a shame that more time is not spent detailing his inner struggle at how best to develop Bill & Ted’s talents. (See “Tempus Fugit Excelsior: The Untold Story of The Great Ones Who Nearly Weren’t” for a more balanced and nuanced portrayal of this often misunderstood figure.)
Ted must pass history class or else he will be exiled to the reviled Oats Military Academy by his father, Captain John Logan (or “El Capitan”, as he would come to be known during the Water Loop Crisis). As the Two prepare their project, they are sent out of the unwelcoming home of Mr. Preston and “Missy the Inconstant” and they repair to The Circle K.
Ah, the Circle K. Much has been written about the San Dimas Circle K, but modern people may find it difficult to believe that this great institution was once a simple convenience store. At that time, people often drove right by without stopping. Amazing. So it was that the arrival of Rufus in a phone booth-disguised time machine was completely unobserved by anyone save for The Great Ones. Once Rufus had demonstrated the technique, they were off through the Circuits of Time in order to learn about the past in order to preserve the future.
The director chosen by the The Three Most Important People in the World for this project, Stephen Herek is known for his work with lighter comedy fare, and does a good job highlighting the excellent early adventures of The Great Ones. It’s exhilarating to re-experience those lighthearted and hilarious days before Bill & Ted realized their true importance. Writers Chris Matheson & Ed Solomon wisely chose to keep their focus on a brief period of roughly 24 hours for this adaptation and this helps keep the action moving briskly. The tightly plotted film keeps it simple and that is admirable with a time-travelling adventure.
The film is scored by David Newman and the music is decidedly of the time and does its best; it’s not fair to judge the music of that period against the Wyld Stallyns. The acting is everything it needs to be and while filling these roles is a daunting task, Winter & Reeves acquit themselves well.
25 years later, Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure reminds us to embrace the credo of The Great Ones: “Be excellent to each other. And party on, dudes!”
Fail most heinously
The Representation Test Score: C (4 pts)
|Main Cast||Keanu Reeves Ted ‘Theodore’ Logan, Alex Winter Bill S. Preston, George Carlin Rufus, Terry Camilleri Napoleon|
|Release Date||Fri 17 Feb 1989 UTC|
|Genres||Adventure, Comedy, Sci-Fi|
|Plot||Two seemingly dumb teens struggle to prepare a historical presentation with the help of a time machine.|
|Tagline||History is about to be rewritten by two guys who can’t spell…|
|Writers||Chris Matheson (written by) &, Ed Solomon (written by)|