tek's rating:

Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure (PG)
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Caution: spoilers.

This came out in 1989, I guess. I rather doubt I could have seen it in the theater, but I don't remember for sure. But I must have at least seen it sometime in the early 90s. Anyway, I've loved it every time I've watched it... some people might think it's gotten kind of dated, but they're wrong. (I guess I could forgive anyone who didn't live through the 80s for thinking that, though.) Um... I should say I could probably put my review in other categories like "science fiction" or "quirky," but I guess "comedy" will suffice. Because it is pretty freaking hilarious.

So, here's the basic plot: George Carlin plays a guy named Rufus, who lives in 2688, in San Dimas, California. He is sent seven hundred years into the past, to the San Dimas of 1988, on a mission to preserve history. See, the future is like this amazing utopia, which came into being because of the music of a band called Wyld Stallyns. The founders of the band are Bill S. Preston, Esquire (Alex Winter) and Ted "Theodore" Logan (Keanu Reeves). They seem pretty dumb, and obviously never study. And they talk in Valley speak, though they also pepper their vocabulary with a few big words. Anyway, they're facing a crisis, because if they don't get an A+ on their oral presentation for History class, they're going to flunk out of high school. Worse yet, if this happens, Ted's dad will send him to military school in Alaska. Which means they'd never get to start their band. Which means Rufus's future would never come into being. So, Rufus takes his time machine (which is transformed to look like a phone booth, a gimmick which I cannot imagine there's even the remotest possibility wasn't stolen from Doctor Who), and goes back to help them pass their history report.

Rufus takes them, very briefly, to 1805, where unbeknownst to them, Napoleon accidentally gets caught in the time stream or whatever when they go back to the present. Rufus departs in the phone booth, and another immediately appears, so that Bill & Ted can travel through time by themselves. Before they go, they discover Napoleon, and Bill gets the idea to bring various historical figures to San Dimas, to help with their report. (I should mention that throughout the movie, most of the good ideas are Bill's.) Meanwhile, they tell Ted's little brother, Deacon, to look after Napoleon while they're gone. In the course of their adventure, they nab Billy the Kid, then Socrates. Then they meet some princess babes in medieval England, but don't actually take anyone with them from that time. In fact, they barely escape from people who want to kill them, and the booth gets damaged. So... they end up going to various times and places beyond their control, and nab some other personages of historical significance, including Sigmund Freud, Ludwig van Beethoven, Genghis Khan, Joan of Arc (played by Jane Wiedlin of the Go-Go's), and Abraham Lincoln.

They manage to fix the time machine and get back to the present, where Bill & Ted leave all the historical figures at the mall while they go looking for Napoleon (whom Deacon had ditched). The others have some fun and get in trouble with the mall cops, in amusing fashion. (Though Beethoven really shouldn't have been so impressed by synthesizers; I have no idea how he heard them.) Then Bill and Ted have to rescue them all after they're arrested (Ted's dad, incidentally, is a police captain). I don't think it's really a spoiler to say that they barely make it to school on time to give the most excellent history report ever, thus ensuring the future will turn out as it should. (Also Bill & Ted are eventually reunited with the princess babes, who join the band.)

Um... so... that's about it, I guess. The movie is gloriously redonkulous (and tongue-in-cheek) in every way, but I can't help loving the idea of a couple of guys like Bill & Ted (and their music) being so monumentally important. And I love some of the incidental ways they use time travel (to set up what might be considered short-term predestination paradoxes, without which the main plot couldn't possibly have succeeded). And I guess that's all I can say. But there was a sequel, Bill & Ted's Bogus Journey, and a spin-off animated series (see other cartoons). In 2020 there was a third movie, Bill & Ted Face the Music.

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