I love a great time-travel story, but one of the funniest comes from the minds of Chris Matheson and Ed Solomon, and back in 1989, this was the one movie we would head to the Florida Mall multi-plex in Orlando to see over and over again. This would be the big kick-off to would jumpstart the career of Keanu Reaves, and we were even treated to having George Carlin along for the ride.
We start in San Dimas, California, two seemingly not so bright teen boys, Bill S. Preston, Esq. (Alex Winter) and Ted “Theodore” Logan (Keanu Reaves) with their head in the clouds about being rockstars are doing miserably in their history class, and if they do not pass their big project, they will be separated, and this will out future events into peril. Meanwhile, six centuries in the future, as a golden diamond-shaped thing drops to the floor of what looks to be a rotunda to the tune of Big Pig “I Can’t Break Away”. Rufus (George Carlin) is sent from this place to stop the boys’ imminent separation. If these guys don’t deliver a dynamite supreme history project, Ted is going to be sent away to Alaska to a military school by his control freak father, Police Captain Logan (Hal Landon Jr.).
So Ted has some problems with his home life, but Bill has issues of his own, since Mr. Preston (J. Patrick McNamara), remarried a woman that is only four years older than his son, Missy (Amy Stock-Poynton). He and Ted both have a crush on his stepmother, but Ted likes to rub it in a little too much at times. While the boys are attempting to do research for their report, Mr. Preston and Missy boot them out of the house with some cash, and they head down to the Circle K to get snacks. This is where they encounter not only Rufus, but their future selves from several hours later. Rufus has come to help them with their report by giving them a time machine shaped like a telephone booth. The analog phone will take them anywhere in time and space, so long as they dial the number in the time machine yellow pages. When they talk to their future selves, they learn that this is the real deal, and that they will even encounter some princesses later in their journey.
They test it out, and are sent to the Napoleonic Wars, where they kidnap Napoleon, and his is just the first of many historical figures they will snag along the way. They use their wits to bring in Socrates, Billy the Kid, Beethoven, Joan of Arc, Genghis Khan, Sigmund Freud, and Abraham Lincoln. These famous people soon join the adventure, and even find themselves in the stone age where they learn about the quick fix they can make on their broken machine using empty pudding cans and bubble gum. The boys also run into trouble along the way in 15th Century England when Ted finds the princesses, or “historical babes” as he calls them, and they sneak into the castle to meet with the young ladies, Princess Joanna (Diane Franklin) and Princess Elizabeth (Kimberley Kates). They also dial a wrong number that sends them to the future where they meet the three most important people in the world (Clarence Clemons, Fee Waybill, and Martha Davis). These are the people that sent Rufus to help them, and the boys are amazed to later find out that the reason of why they got help from the future on a history report.
There is a side story of Napoleon’s one day misadventures in San Dimas, when Ted’s little brother, Deacon, is left in charge to watch after him. Napoleon experiences bowling, and super sundaes, and getting ditched by impatient young teens, only to find his biggest day of fun ever at Waterloops, a fictional water slide park, but you can learn even more about Waterloops at a place devoted to Bill and Ted.
This movie is one we really can never get tired of, and we should never take seriously, even though I’m pretty sure many of us would like to have had a similar experience happen to them. This movie even gave us a rockin’ sequel that went beyond regular earth time, and into the planes of heaven and hell, and which musing will most triumphantly review later. Take a break from all this season’s newscraziness about the wild weather and even wilder politics and enjoy a retro ride back to the 80s in Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure.
I give this film a Musing review of