Bill and Ted are valley guys
Who dream of fame but aren’t too wise.
They think their Wyld Stallyns band
Will be “triumphant” once it’s planned.
Their grades are low without a doubt,
And history may flunk them out.
Then someone “excellent” comes through
The night before reports are due.
A man named Rufus gives the youths
A rarity among phone booths:
A booth that travels through the years
To wow their teachers and their peers.
They visit France, from which they’re lent
Napoleon by accident.
This gives them an idea for free,
To gather names from history.
Billy the Kid first joins their booth,
Then Socrates they lure with truth.
Medieval England has princesses
But gets them in the worst of messes.
Though nearly meeting both their ends,
They’re saved by their historic friends.
They then go on to gather more
To make their presentation soar.
From Genghis Khan to Joan of Arc
To Sigmund Freud, they disembark
Just long enough to grab a name,
Like Beethoven, that’s garnered fame.
Once Lincoln joins their crowded stall,
They take them to San Dimas’ mall,
Where most take full advantage of
Strange modern things they come to love.
Once Bill and Ted find Bonaparte
At Waterloo, a water park,
They find their other VIPs
Have been arrested by police.
They spring their characters from jail
With Ted’s cop dad hot on their trail.
The duo blow their school away
And gain ovation and an A.
Once everyone’s back in their time,
Old Rufus comes with news sublime.
Their Wyld Stallyns band will birth
A calm “excellent” future earth.
He brings the princesses they met
To make their band a sweet quartet.
Although they cannot play right now,
“They do get better,” well, somehow.

I’ll be honest; Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure has two of the stupidest main characters around, but it’s a testament to the fact that stupidity (when done right) can be hilarious. From mispronouncing historical names to thinking a torture device is a metal band, Bill and Ted romp through history with abandon, only meeting actual danger a couple times. Their plan to gather historical figures for a living history presentation is both ridiculous and brilliant, and it’s certainly entertaining to watch.

Alex Winter and Keanu Reeves (Neo?!) spout adjectives left and right, from “triumphant” to “bogus” and beyond. They’re utterly goofy and silly in that classic ‘80s kind of way, yet they tow the line and don’t fall into complete puerility. George Carlin acts as the futuristic straight man Rufus, not getting many jokes but playing an integral part in moving the plot and balancing all the wackiness. Other roles are mostly cameos, such as the Go-Go’s Jane Wiedlin as the energetic Joan of Arc and Springsteen sax player Clarence Clemons as a dignified leader of the future.

While the characters are imbeciles, it’s obvious that the filmmakers have plenty of intelligence and creativity. Spanning centuries and nations, they combine Napoleon, Billy the Kid, Socrates, Genghis Khan, and friends with a modern setting and let the hilarious chaos flow for all to enjoy. The scenes in the mall prove that historical figures can handle the stresses of time travel surprisingly well and that Genghis Khan should stay away from sporting equipment.

Speaking of time travel, the century-bridging phone booth the boys receive may be an obvious rip-off of Doctor Who’s TARDIS, but unlike the famous police box, the phone booth is not bigger on the inside than on the outside, allowing for further laughs. By the end, the filmmakers even exhibit some Back to the Future-style mind-bending by stretching time travel plausibility to provide Bill and Ted with deus ex machina rescues.

Overall, Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure is a thoroughly fun voyage through time that exceeds the sum of its parts, despite some crudities. Time travel is one of my favorite science fiction sub-genres, and when it’s this enjoyably ridiculous, I can only say, “Excellent!”

Best line:  (Bill, reading upon arriving in ancient Greece) “So-crates – ‘The only true wisdom consists in knowing that you know nothing.’”   (Ted) “That’s us, dude.”

Artistry: 3
Characters/Actors: 7
Entertainment: 10
Visual Effects: 6
Originality: 10
Watchability: 9
TOTAL: 45 out of 60

Next: #171 – Pocahontas

© 2014 S. G. Liput

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