Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure (1989)
Article 5467 by Dave Sindelar
Directed by Stephen Herek
Featuring Alex Winter, Keanu Reeves, George Carlin
What it is: Science fiction comedy
Bill and Ted want to form a rock group, but if they fail history, the group will be split up when one of them is sent to military school. However, an envoy from the future gives them the use of a time-traveling phone booth that will allow them to go back in history and bring back historical figures for a final project.
I have a soft spot in my heart for movies about dimwitted innocents; though I’ve heard Bill and Ted described as stoners, there is no evidence in the movies they take drugs – they’re just naturally the way they are. I also have a soft spot for movies with comically absurd premises; the reason the envoy from the future is seeking to help them is that the entire future society of the world is built on the popularity and the message of Bill and Ted’s rock group. The movie sat on the shelf for a couple of years when the original backers went bankrupt, and it was almost dumped into cable TV, but fortunately, it got a theatrical release and became a cult classic. Alex Winter and Keanu Reeves have a great rapport, and much of their interaction is inexplicably hilarious. Overall, the movie is inconsistent, but for every moment that falls flat there are a couple that work, and the colorful array of historical characters chosen (Billy the Kid, Napoleon, Socrates, Joan of Arc, Genghis Khan, etc.) adds to the fun.