This week’s edition of Throwback Thursday (ScienceFiction.com’s look at the great science fiction of the past) is very special to me. Not only does it fall on my 25th birthday, but because one of my favorite movies is celebrating their 25th anniversary as well. Before ‘Doctor Who’ became the cultural phenomenon it is today in the United States, there was another box making its way around the circuits of time and getting into all sorts of trouble. Way back on February 17, 1989, two slackers from San Dimas, California, set off on a most certainly non-heinous journey through time before they firmly landed into the hearts of fans all over the world and secured their spot in cinematic history.
Starring Keanu Reeves, Alex Winter, and George Carlin, ‘Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure’ is a cult classic directed by Stephen Herek and written by Chris Matheson and Ed Solomon about two dudes in a tough spot. The pair of Bill S. Preston, Esquire, and Ted “Theodore” Logan are destined to bring peace to the world with the music of their band Wyld Stallyns. However, that future is put into jeopardy when the possibility of failing their history class threatens to separate the duo and undo the tranquil serenity of the years to come. That’s when Rufus is tasked to interject in Bill & Ted’s timeline to ensure the preservation of history by bestowing upon the two of them a time machine shaped like a phone booth to pull together a kickass presentation.
From a young age, I’ve loved time travel in practically any shape or form. Movies, TV shows, comic books, and video games that involved alternate realities or visiting other time periods were always so fascinating to me. And for as long as I can remember, two movies became staples in the genre in my life: ‘Back to the Future’ and ‘Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure’. While the latter can be looked at as a quintessential example of 80s cinema with all the bright colors, corny lines, and California surfer vernacular, it also offered a unique view of history. If learning about Socrates, Joan of Arc, and Billy the Kid could be interesting to these guys, then they could be interesting to anyone. Not only does ‘Bill & Ted’ offer a fun movie-watching experience, but you learn a little something along the way as well. Of course, it’s not the primary function of this film, but it’s a nice side effect. Plus, the endlessly awesome quotes it has given to the world are always a good time. SAN DIMAS HIGH FOOTBALL RULES!
Not only did this movie launch a franchise that included video games, theme park attractions, a Marvel comic book, an animated series, and a sequel titled ‘Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey’, but it also launched the careers of leads Reeves and Winter. After taking the excellent adventure, Reeves landed the role of Johnny Utah in ‘Point Break’. From there he went on to action films like ‘Speed’ and landed in one of the most revered science fiction trilogies of our time, ‘The Matrix’. But before he made history with that bit of sci-fi, he was in history in ‘Bill & Ted’. As for his co-star, Winter appeared sporadically in various projects, but he shifted his talents behind the camera. Throughout the 90s, he built up a respectable resume of directing gigs that range from animated features for Cartoon Network to a feature length documentary for MTV called ‘Downloaded’, which chronicled the rise and fall of Napster.
Whether if it’s in front of or behind the camera, both stars are still an active part of Hollywood today. However, there has been rumblings about bringing the band back together for a third installment of the Bill & Ted saga. Back in 2010, Reeves teased that a threequel was being written by the original writers that would see how the dimwitted duo fared with the changes of the past twenty years and whether or not they were any closer to their future of world peace. In 2011, a first draft was completed with the input of Bill & Ted themselves. Then, ‘Galaxy Quest’ director Dean Parisot signed on to helm the project in August 2012, despite the studio dragging their feet on the official green light. As of December 2013, Reeves has said that the script is currently going through some changes in order to cut down the budget, but the third ‘Bill & Ted’ film is still very much alive. Unfortunately, it would have to happen without one of the greatest comics of all time as George Carlin passed away in 2008.
Even though it probably wouldn’t even come close to being on any list that chronicled the greatest films of all time alongside ‘The Godfather’, ‘Citizen Kane’, or ‘Casablanca’, ‘Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure’ is a most triumphant film filled with lovable characters, righteous tunes, and a generally good time. While critics may not give it as much credit as I have here, it’s hard to argue this movie’s impact on its audience 25 years later since people are still talking about it and are excited about possibly revisiting the story with another film. But whether or not that actually happens, Wyld Stallyns will always have a special place in my heart, especially when they remind us all to be excellent to each other… And party on, dudes!