Later this month, movie fans will be reunited with the metal loving, air guitar riffing duo that is best buds Bill S. Preston Esq. (Alex Winters) and Ted ‘Theodore’ Logan (Keanu Reeves) in the much anticipated Bill & Ted Face the Music. Sure, it’s another example of Hollywood tapping into the well of 80’s nostalgia, but there’s always been something inherently sweet and aspirational about the worldview of Bill & Ted, and our times need it now more than ever.
To mark the occasion of their latest adventure, and to remind everyone of that world philosophy before meeting the guys in the midst of a mid-life crisis, a remaster is on the cards of the original, most excellent adventure. With a packed disc full of extras and a fresh lick of paint, it’s never been a better time to hop in a Phone Box and head back to San Dimas, 1988 to rock with the Wyld Stallyns, be it your first or 100th trip.
Bill and Ted are in trouble. They’ve been flunking History, and their whole future together is threatened by Ted’s Dad, who’s going to send his son to Military School in Alaska if they fail their last History assignment. It’s a good thing the future is on Bill and Ted’s side. Arriving from a future that has been founded on the music and philosophy of Bill and Ted, Rufus (George Carlin) gives the teenaged pair a time travelling phone box to help them ace the assignment and keep their future on track.
There is a nonchalant nature to the time travel on display in this that is refreshing in an age where so many sci-fi franchises get entangled in paradoxes and alternate realities. Bill and Ted’s use of time travel plays by only one rule: what’s going to lead to something fun. From cherry picking individuals from across Earth’s history to aid their assignment, to incorporating the use of their future selves to leave things to help them out in tricky situations (a very funny play on a deus ex machina), there’s an infectiously goofy sense of play to its time warp proceedings that’s aged surprisingly well.
In fact, one jarring homophobic joke aside, the film remains a timeless adventure that proves exceedingly charming thanks to its two lead characters. With their wonderfully eloquent vocabulary that mixes floral hyperbole with Valley dude slang, their iconic back and forth still feels unique and all its own. Their mantra of ‘be excellent to each other and party on’ remains a brilliantly phrased statement of compassion and optimism. They remain great company, with Reeves and Winter’s chemistry making the affection felt between this adolescent pair feel entirely genuine.
The supporting cast of historical players are also clearly having a blast, with the writing setting up wonderfully silly modern escapades for them all to embark on when their curiosity gets the better of them. Terry Camilleri is a particular hoot as Napoleon, who discovers he has an affinity for water parks during his trip to the 1980’s. Best of all though is George Carlin in the role of Rufus, a figure of this franchise who will be sorely missed in the upcoming legacy sequel. His perfect deadpan delivery is consistently funny, and you just wish he had a bit more to do in the film as he’s a great presence whenever he’s on screen.
Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure is the kind of fan favourite 80’s movie that is easy to see why it has endured for over 30 years, and why there would be a hunger to see what these guys are up to later down the line. It manages to shake away most labels of being a property looking to jump on the Back to the Future teen comedy time travel band wagon through its lightness of touch, inoffensive spirit and the likeability of its characters. We need Bill and Ted’s philosophy more than ever, which makes revisiting this (and the promise of a sequel), more than a welcome pleasure. Most triumphant.
Dir: Stephen Herek
Scr: Chris Matheson, Ed Solomon
Cast: Keanu Reeves, Alex Winter, George Carlin
Prd: Scott Kroopf, Michael S. Murphey, Joel Soisson
DOP: Timothy Suhrstedt
Music: David Newman
Run time: 90 minutes
Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure is out on DVD, Blu-Ray and 4K Blu-Ray from August 10th.