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Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure

Entry updated 23 February 2017. Tagged: Film.

Film (1989). Interscope Communications/Soisson-Murphey/De Laurentiis. Director Stephen Herek. Written by Chris Matheson, Ed Solomon. Cast includes Robert V Barron, Terry Camilleri, George Carlin, Al Leong, Keanu Reeves, Jane Wiedlin and Alex Winter. 89 minutes. Colour.

Because the tranquillity of future life depends on the cultural changes brought about by a late-twentieth-century rock band called Wyld Stallyns, an emissary from the future named Rufus (Carlin) is sent back to Los Angeles (see California) in Time Machine – disguised as a telephone booth – to help the two teenaged future band-leaders Bill S Preston (Winter) and Ted Logan (Reeves) pass their history test, thus ensuring their continuing partnership. The boys successfully collect Abraham Lincoln (Barron), Genghis Khan (Leong), Joan of Arc (Wiedlin), Napoleon (Camilleri) and other notables from the past to give colour to their history presentation. This charming, silly film, made by a relative newcomer who had previously directed Critters (1986), does not strain for credibility, but within its own relaxed, adolescent terms is done with great conviction. The running joke is linguistic: the boys speak a Southern Californian argot, "Valley Speak", so that, for example, bad things are "heinous" and "egregious", good things "excellent" and "bodacious". Their innocence (and ignorance) enables them, with a simple "Party on, dudes", to survive perilous situations. There is a bodacious new twist on the Time Paradox, and a splendid scene where Napoleon discovers the joys of water slides.

The sequel, Bill & Ted's Bogus Journey (1991), director Pete Hewitt but with the same screenwriters, has the two boys – after being killed by and replaced by Android Doppelgangers – visiting Hell and Heaven and outwitting the Grim Reaper (William Sadler) and the megalomaniac from the future (Joss Ackland) who arranged their demises, with help from an Alien genius called Station (voiced by Frank Welker). Though equally amusing, it perhaps lacks the freshness of its predecessor. It was novelized as Bill & Ted's Bogus Journey (1991) by Robert Tine. Further spinoffs in this franchise included an animated Television series, Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventures (1990-1991), a 1992 live-action series with the same title, twelve issues of a ComicBill & Ted's Excellent Comic Book from Marvel Comics – and a Videogame. [PN/DRL]

see also: Cinema.


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