Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Now on Amazon Prime: Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure (1989)

Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure (1989) - Directed by Stephen Herek; Written by Chris Matheson, Ed Solomon; Starring Keanu Reeves, Alex Winter, George Carlin.

By Kenny Howell

I continue the trip back to my childhood, following up Back to the Future with another time travel 80s movie.

Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure isn't the cultural milestone or blockbuster hit that Back to the Future was, but it still has its place. And after watching it again, I can kind of see why. The humor is stupid because the characters are stupid. Bill and Ted are dim witted teenagers who just want to be a giant rock band, despite not knowing how to play their instruments. But they are so positive, so caring toward other people, that you can see why it's hard not to like them and this movie.

The way it is set up, Bill and Ted (Alex Winter and Keanu Reeves) need to pass their final exam, an oral presentation on history, to keep from flunking out of school. If they don't pass, Ted will be shipped off to military school. But there is a bigger problem, the future of civilization also needs them to stay together because their entire society is based off the music they will eventually create. So, time traveler Rufus (George Carlin) goes back in time to tell them how to travel in time as well. They basically kidnap historical figures and bring them back to the present to be in their presentation.

Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure runs out of steam in the last third of the movie. It had the set up, it was fun collecting all the historical figures, but it didn't know what to do with them once they got back to San Dimas, California. Another obstacle is shoehorned in, and while there is some clever time travel stuff in that portion, it seems a bit like they didn't have enough for a screenplay and were trying to drag it out. That segment becomes all 1980s wish-fulfillment, beer commercial type stuff that exists only in those places but not in the real world. Specifically their presentation which has props and complex lighting despite being a bit impromptu.

Still, it is infectious, and a lot of that has to do with Winter and Reeves in the lead roles. Both are excellent as the optimistic dummies, something Reeves was terrific at until he started playing a guy like that trying to play more serious stuff. Luckily he became a great action star instead.

Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure is now streaming on Amazon Prime.

Rating: **1/2

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