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Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure (1989)
Director: Stephen Herek

review by Jeff Young

Possibly inspired by the likes of Time Bandits, Back To The Future, and Doctor Who, this SF comedy about two young American time travellers is inconsistent, but has several witty lines and amusing moments, and happily doesn't take itself seriously. Bill and Ted (Alex Winter, Keanu Reeves) are wannabe heavy metal heroes of 'Wyld Stallyns' breed, but thoroughbred losers until taken on a magical history tour by nattily dressed emissary from the future, Rufus (George Carlin). Visiting the wild west, ancient Greece, medieval England, Vienna and Mongolia, they collect a variety of historical figures including Napoleon, Billy the Kid (Dan Shor), Socrates, Freud, Beethoven, Joan of Arc, Genghis Kahn and Abe Lincoln - in order to help them complete their high school exams.
   The duo's time machine appears as a glazed phone booth, yet little is done with this sub-genre's potential for brain teasing intrigues except for posing the curious question "Why would we lie to ourselves?" following the boys' quirky encounter with tomorrow's Bill and Ted. Between the one-liners that revel in the blockhead pair's cultural ignorance, and Freud's throwaway analysis of Ted's disciplinarian father, there are a few wonderfully surrealistic touches: knightly suits of armour playing air guitar, Bonaparte getting thrown out of a bowling alley, the president doing ironing chores, French teenage heroine Joan leading an aerobics class...
   Overall, then, Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure is a passable yarn that sets out to be a vindication of loopy Californian youth lifestyles, rather than delivering any serious educational values.
previously published online, VideoVista #28
Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure
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