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Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure
1989 - PG - 90 Mins.
Director: Stephen Herek
Producer: Scott Kroopf
Written By: Chris Matheson, Ed Solomon
Starring: Keanu Reeves, Alex Winter, George Carlin
Review by: John Ulmer

Narley Neo!
Do you remember in high school, when you had a day to come up with something good or you were afraid of flunking? I think we've all had times with one thing or another where we had one day to put together something we knew nothing about. Well, that's how Bill and Ted feel in "Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure," when they find out they have one day to present a history speech at school, or they will flunk.

Bill S. Preston (Alex Winter) and Ted (Keanu Reeves) are two high-school clowns from San Dimas, California, without a clue. Literally. They don't know a single thing about history and are as dense as dense can be. Bill believes Napolean to be a "short, dead dude," and Ted thinks Joan of Ark was Noah's wife. But they try to clean their act up after their history teacher threatens to flunk them both unless they come up with a good history presentation that same day. Things turn even more heinous when Ted finds out his father is going to ship him off to military school in Alaska if he doesn't pass. Whoa.

The two dudes are in most righteous trouble. If Ted is shipped off to military school in Alaska, Bill and Ted will never complete forming their rock band, the "Wyld Stallyns." But they have no idea of just how important they are in the future until Rufus (George Carlin) comes back in time from the future with a time-travelling phone booth. He tells the two dudes that in the future they solve world hunger, bring peace to the world, and stop war, all through their music. Sounds like "The Beatles." Anyway, the two teens are surprised and take Rufus' phone booth through time, trying to learn history first-hand. But along the way they learn that instead of taking history from their surroundings mentally, why not take history from their surroundings PHYSICALLY? Bill and Ted start to pinch historical figures and bring them back to the eighties. These figures include Napolean (who takes a trip to San Dimas' "Waterloo" fun park), Socrates, Joan of Arc, Sigmund Freud, Gengis Khan, Billy the Kid and Abraham Lincoln. But the two pals still have a lot of obstacles in their path if they wish to successfully pass history class. Dude!

"Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure" is one of those movies that is hilarious in the beginning, funny in the middle, and outrageously, screamingly hysterical towards the end. I'll admit the first time I saw this film I didn't enjoy it much, but I saw it at a local video store for a few bucks on DVD and couldn't pass up the deal. I bought it along with "Spaceballs" and left "Bill and Ted" for last viewing. I finally watched it again today, and it was more than surprising. It was great! It cleverly combines eighties-type-humor with an original, if somewhat borrowed plot.

It's predictable, yes, but on a scale of enjoyability it scores a solid "4" out of "5." A lot of times we can forsee many events, and unlike the "Back to the Future" films, the idea of time travel itself isn't played upon as much as it is there just as a reason to get historical figures into the eighties. The phonebooth had a lot more potential; and when they did start phone booth paradoxes, most of the time they were never fully resolved, and didn't make sense. But that is not really what the film is here for. It isn't "Back to the Future." The story isn't centered around the time machine and/or what it can do, but rather what you could bring back with you. "Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure" is nowhere near as good as "Back to the Future" Part 1 or 2, but I didn't expect it to be.

The best parts of the film are when they play on what historical figures would do given the chance to be thrusted into a new year. Bill and Ted bring the different characters into the San Dimas mall, where Genghis Khan proceeds to wreck a sportshop, Joan of Ark tries her hand at becoming a fitness instructer, Beethoven plays the electronic piano in the mall, Socrates goes ice-skating, Sigmund Freud hits on women and asks cops about their mothers in an interrogation with another psychiatrist, etc., etc., etc...I won't ruin anymore for you, nor give away the specifics and outcomes of this mall exploration, but I will tell you that there is nothing more enjoyable for a Friday night then watching important, key-historical figures from different time eras exploring the 1980s. I know someone who gets mad at the Abe Lincoln speech and really hates this movie, but I think it's all good fun.

Much like "Back to the Future" played on time-travel and its impact, "Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure" plays on the epic question, "Just what would historical figures think of modern-day life?", and while the outcome isn't as evenly funny or amusing as "Back to the Future," it's still a wildly funny film that will entertain you, if nothing else.
Movie Guru Rating
An excellent film.  Among the best in its Genre.  Worth seeing in the Theater. An excellent film.  Among the best in its Genre.  Worth seeing in the Theater. An excellent film.  Among the best in its Genre.  Worth seeing in the Theater. An excellent film.  Among the best in its Genre.  Worth seeing in the Theater.
  4 out of 5 stars

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