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BILL & TED'S EXCELLENT ADVENTURE

Review by Michael Jacobson

Stars:  Keanu Reeves, Alex Winter, George Carlin
Director:  Stephen Herek
Audio:  Dolby Digital 5.1
Video:  Anamorphic Widescreen 2.35:1
Studio:  MGM
Features:  Theatrical Trailer
Length:  90 Minutes
Release Date:  December 4, 2001

“Bill?”

“Yeah?”

“Strange things are afoot at the Circle K.”

Film ***

Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure is a funny, fast paced hacked-up history lesson featuring two clueless high school chums who engage on a trip through time on an adventure that would have tickled the likes of Bob Hope and Bing Crosby.

I can remember when the picture first came out, and thinking, “They can NOT be serious…”.  But I was intrigued enough to pay a visit to my local theatre with some friends of mine.  We were pleasantly surprised…no, make that terrifically surprised.  It was hilarious, charming, and inventive…half of the invention coming from the terrific humor and premise, and the other half coming from stretching any known theory of the time-space continuum beyond recognizable shape.  I mean, if you stop and think about it, there’s no conceivable way a person from the future could travel back in time to protect a timeline that has already taken place…

Ah, but if you start thinking too much, you’ll miss the fun.  Poor Keanu Reeves…he’s had a successful career over the last decade, but I’ll be darned if I don’t still think of Ted “Theodore” Logan as the role I most remember him for.  Every time he’s ever uttered a “whoa” on screen, it’s a throwback to this film, much like “I’ll be back” became Arnold’s signature line.

He’s paired up here with the likeable Alex Winter as Bill S. Preston, Esquire.  The two are best friends, bandmates, and pretty much your stereotypical bonehead California kids of the 1980s.  They dream of turning their group Wyld Stallyns into something big.  The problem?  They are about to flunk history, unless they can come up with an A plus final project to save themselves.  And if they do, Ted’s father is sending his son to military school in Alaska.  No more band.

All seems hopeless until a hip traveler from the future, Rufus (Carlin), shows up in a time-traveling phone booth and an offer to help the boys put together a history project to…well, make history.  He has his reasons for helping the gallant pair, but I’ll leave that for you to discover…it’s a trip.

So, with all the time in the world in theory, but time running out in reality, Bill and Ted set off through time to collect historical figures for their project.  Along the way, they have mishaps one after another, and run into the likes of Billy the Kid, Socrates, Abraham Lincoln, Joan of Arc, Genghis Khan, Napoleon and more.  Collecting them is one thing…keeping them out of trouble in the 20th century?  That’s something else.

I’ve seen this picture at least a dozen times, and it always brings a smile to my face.  There’s something about the hapless but plucky friends that’s downright winning despite their collective lack of brain power.  And the concept of bringing historical figures into the 1980s?  Endlessly comic…their unrestrained romp through the mall is a definite high point.

It’s simply a funny, entertaining romp from start to finish.  Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure is definitely history worth repeating.

Video ***

This is a quality anamorphic offering from MGM…it’s very nice to finally see the film in its Scope ratio again!  Colors are quite good throughout; bright and natural with no bleedings or distortions.  Images are generally sharp and clear, with no distracting grain or shimmer to spoil the effect.  One or two darker scenes lose a bit of definition, but that’s a very minor complaint.  All in all (say it with me now)…Excellent!

Audio ***

The 5.1 audio mix is lively and dynamic, with plenty of full stage effects (mainly during the time travel sequences), some good music, and clear dialogue from start to finish.  A very worthy effort!

Features *

Only a trailer.  Bogus, dude!

Summary:

Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure is a modern comedy classic, whether you want to admit it or not.  Keanu Reeves and Alex Winter make a terrific comic duo, and the picture’s sense of stylish, energetic fun make this one fans come back to time and time again…in other words, a terrific title for DVD.