For those of you just now discovering this page, I want to warn you that my reviews always contain spoilers. I have yet to review films that are all that recent though due to budget constraints, so hopefully nothing I say here is too surprising. That being said, let’s move on! There are some movies that we love simply because we grew up watching them. When we get older we realize just how awful that movie really is and we tuck it away, glancing over at the case on the bookshelf for a sense of nostalgia, but never daring to watch it again. This is not one of those movies. However, that does not mean it isn’t cheesy and ridiculous, but that is because it was intended to be that way. The movies we tuck away to forget usually don’t intend to be cheesy or ridiculous, but Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure knows exactly what kind of movie it is and embraces its quirks wholeheartedly. That being said, if I had never seen this movie and someone came up to me and said “so these two high school kids trying to start a rock band get sent back in time and kidnap historical figures so they don’t fail their history class” I would have laughed at the absurdity but probably shaken the idea off entirely. The thing about Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure is that the premise is completely absurd and the movie only works because it is executed so well.
First off, let’s go back to that idea of the intended ridiculousness. This movie is very self-aware, and that is a large part of why this movie works. I think this idea can best be illustrated by the break-out scene at the jail when Bill and Ted remind themselves to set up traps and other devices to help them get through the jail without being seen only to have said traps and devices appear within seconds. Not only is this scene a wonderful interpretation of time travel, but it reminds us (as this film does every few seconds) that while the movie is playing with very intellectual concepts, we still can’t take it or any other part of the movie too seriously.
In the spirit of not taking things too seriously, I absolutely love the representation of the historical figures in this film. I will never stop enjoying Socrates calling Sigmund Freud a “geek”, but I digress. While realistically it wouldn’t be hard to say that these people would be panicking in this situation, the representation given is perfect for a teen comedy. Instead, Beethoven likes Bon Jovi’s Slippery When Wet, Joan of Arc likes aerobics, etc. Every historical figure is able to find something they enjoy and for the most part has a good time while they’re in 1988 San Dimas.
On to other things, what absolutely made this movie was not, in my opinion, the gimmicky circumstances or the ridiculousness of bringing historical figures into the 80s. What made this film great is definitely the dialogue. Bill and Ted have some of the most face-palm worthy lines of any characters I’ve encountered, yet they’re so true to their characters that it becomes endearing in a way. To be perfectly honest, I decided to review this movie this week because upon my recent move I encountered Circle K gas stations for the first time (they’re not very common in my hometown) and I have not been able to stop myself from thinking “Strange things are afoot at the Circle K” every time I see one.
While I can’t say the dialogue in this movie is phenomenal or awe-inspiring, it is memorable and funny. This is the kind of movie you watch with a bunch of your friends and quote to each other at every opportune moment. Again, it’s not exactly an awe-inspiring film, but it is not trying to be. Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure just wants you to let go and suspend disbelief for an hour and twenty minutes, if that’s not too much to ask. If it is, I am sorry and hope you can spare the time someday and enjoy yourself.