I'm not entirely sure if that opening paragraph made a lick of sense, so I'll simplify. This entry was inspired by one of the six forgotten cartoons of the 1980s and early 1990s, because that cartoon happened to be based on a movie that I remember watching and loving as a little kid.
And surprisingly enough, that cartoon wasn't Rubik, the Amazing Cube.
No, instead it was the cartoon "Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventures", a cartoon which ran for two seasons, and which had the stars of the movie as the voice actors of the show - well, at least for season one, anyway.
Well, today we're going to be talking about the movie! Won't that be fun?
Of course, we're going to get to the main body of the blog entry, which details plot, characters, interesting facts and tidbits, and all that jazz in a little while. But first, I want to explain to you why I love this movie, and where I was when I first saw this film.
I admittedly didn't watch this film when it first hit theatres. At the time, I was still a few months shy of turning eight years old, and my movie tastes included Disney films and any cartoon that featured the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Ironically enough, I ended up watching it at a school...in the middle of summer!
No, I didn't flunk any classes or have to complete summer classes in order to pass ahead to the next grade level.
But I do have probably one of the coolest ways in which I have ever watched a movie ever.
You see, when I was a young kid - like, between the ages of six and eleven - I was enrolled in a summer playground program. All of the elementary schools in the area took part in the program, which was organized by my hometown's parks and recreation department, and basically the program was designed like a summer camp. We played games, did arts and crafts, went to the beach for swimming, and learned about nature. The six summers that I took part in the program were some of the best summers that I ever experienced, and I wouldn't trade those experiences for anything.
But a large variable over how much fun we had in the summer playground program was the weather. I mean, most days, the weather was sunny and hot, which was absolutely perfect for most of the summer activities that we took part in.
But what happened when the weather was less than perfect?
Yes, July and August were prime months for sunshine and warm temperatures...but they were also prime months for thunderstorms, strong winds, and the occasional dose of hailstones. And when the weather was bad, we couldn't go outside.
Luckily, as part of the agreement with the schools that agreed to take part in the program, the counselors had the key to get inside the schools on a rainy day, so we could go inside one of the classrooms to watch a movie if the weather was too wet.
So, that's how I ended up watching "Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure". One of the camp counselors had rented the VHS copy of the film from the video store just down the street from the school, and on a miserable rainy day, we all sat inside the classroom and watched the movie.
To be honest with you, it was one of those unforgettable experiences. Imagine being in a classroom that was completely empty (all the desks and chairs were in the hallway and remained there until the school year began in September), and sitting on the floor watching a movie eating popcorn and potato chips that our counselors brought in. I tell you, those were good times. It didn't even matter that we were in a school in the middle of the summer because we were having so much fun!
Anyway, for people who were and are history buffs, "Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure" was the perfect film. In fact, I have a little bit of a confession for you. Before every history exam that I ever wrote, watching this movie was one of the study aids that I used! I know it sounds absolutely bizarre, but my grades in history were actually pretty decent.
Not that I actually recommend relying on a movie from the eighties to help you pass through your high school courses...but in my case, it worked out well!
Released in theatres in February 1989, the film starred Alex Winter as Bill, Keanu Reeves as Ted, and George Carlin as Rufus (who I immediately recognized since he also played one of the Mr. Conductors on the television show "Shining Time Station"). The film only made forty million dollars at the box office, but is widely considered to be a cult classic. And I suppose that since the film did spawn a sequel in 1991 (which admittedly wasn't as good as the first movie), I guess the Stephen Herek directed, Chris Matheson/Ed Solomon penned film had to have made some impact in the movie world.
And, hey...I suppose you could say that the film kickstarted Keanu Reeves' film career...which if you are a fan of his, that's a good thing.
And, this particular film is quite unique in that it visits the past, the present (which in this movie's case would be the late 1980s), and the future (which is the year 2688).
So, movie buffs...take note. For those of you worried about the world ending, Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure predicts that we'll at least make it to the year 2688! Not that any of US will see that year, but it's nice to think about.
Anyway, in 2688, the world is finally in a state of peace. There are no wars, no crimes...it's basically a world that is in a state of utopia. And would you like to know the main event that caused world peace to break out all over?
Was it an international peace treaty? The leaders of the world all getting together and agreeing not to fight any more? Space aliens invading the planet and hypnotizing people into loving each other?
Nope. As it turns out, the key to world peace was music from the twentieth century. And, I'm not talking about Rick Astley's "Never Gonna Give You Up".
I'm talking about music from a group known as the "Wyld Stallyns". Apparently, the songs released by Bill S. Preston Esq. and Theodore "Ted" Logan were so inspirational and powerful that they actually caused an outbreak of world peace to break out. Their contributions to history were so remarkable that in 2688, the global population compares both of them to being deities of a higher order. Why else would they be referred to as "The Great Ones"?
But what happens when an event from the past could change everything? It has been warned time and time again in various films and television programs that deal with time travel that you really shouldn't disturb anything when going back in time, for anything that you do in the present can seriously change the course of the future - and not in a good way either.
You see, in order for the utopic harmony to continue in the year 2688, Bill and Ted have to pass their World History class. If they succeed, the band will go on to release the songs that would change the world. If they fail, Ted will be forced to enroll in a military academy, the Wyld Stallyns would cease to exist, and the future would become a lot darker.
And that would be a totally bogus fate indeed.
So, a man by the name of Rufus is ordered to go back in time to San Dimas, California circa 1988, where he must make sure that Bill and Ted pass the class so that the world as they know it will continue to exist.
Interestingly enough, Rufus uses a 1980s style American phone booth to warp back in time seven hundred years. I guess you could call this the American version of the TARDIS.
Of course, Rufus happens to meet Bill and Ted at a time in which they are struggling with a history assignment. They have to come up with a presentation in which they choose three historical figures from the past, and determine how they would fare in 1988 San Dimas. And, naturally, Bill and Ted only seem to care more about music than they do studying history. And when Rufus crosses paths with Bill and Ted, the two dim-witted teens absolutely refuse to hear him out, believing him to be, like, totally bogus.
At least that is until a second phone booth pops up out of nowhere and the future Bill and Ted convince the present Bill and Ted otherwise.
Confused yet? Don't worry. It will all make sense when you get to the end of the movie. Well, at least you will have to take my word for it, since I never reveal movie endings.
But I can tell you that you will meet the following historical figures (or at least accurate facsimiles of them) in this movie as Bill, Ted, and Rufus zoom through space and time.
Socrates c. 410 B.C.
Genghis Khan c. 1209
Joan of Arc c. 1429
Napoleon Bonaparte c. 1805
Ludwig von Beethoven c. 1809
Abraham Lincoln c. 1863
Billy the Kid c. 1879
Sigmund Freud c. 1901
And, the reason why you meet all of these people? Well, Bill and Ted seem to have this idea that to present the best possible history report, they would find it best to bring all of the historical characters from their respective times to 1988 San Dimas where they will talk about their experiences from the first person - completely ignoring the fact that disturbing the past could affect the future. But amazingly, 1988 San Dimas doesn't really change that much. In fact, it's actually kind of amusing seeing all of these historical figures adjusting to a 1980s shopping mall and getting arrested by the police! Have a look at a clip below!
I think that very well could be my all-time favourite scene in the whole movie. Taking 1980s mall stereotypes and bringing a classic twist to them. Brilliant!
So, how about we get to a little bit of trivia about this movie, shall we?
1 - Although this movie came out in 1989, it is set in 1988. Interestingly enough, the film was originally filmed in early 1987, but due to production delays and a company bankruptcy, the film was pushed back until early 1989. As a result some of the dialogue had to be redubbed, because the characters were still saying 1987 in the film script! Talk about a time-travelling movie having time related issues!
2 - Though the film was set in San Dimas, California (a real community), the film was mostly shot in Arizona.
3 - That's not George Carlin playing on that guitar solo. It's actually the work of composer Stevie Salas - the man behind all of the guitar music heard in the film.
4 - A phone booth wasn't meant to be used as the time machine. It was instead supposed to be a '69 Chevy van...but the idea was nixed because "Back To The Future" had already used a time-travelling car.
5 - Interestingly enough, George Carlin would probably have never been cast as Rufus had the production team went with the original script. In the original script, Rufus was only supposed to be in his late twenties. Carlin was in his early fifties at the time the film was made.
6 - Joan of Arc was played by former Go-Go's band member Jane Wiedlin.
7 - The phone booth that was used in the film was actually given away as a prize by Nintendo Power magazine to promote the release of the NES game based on the movie (which I have played and I remember being not that great). The winner was Kenneth Grayson of Mississippi.
8 - In the movie, Bill and Ted made a casual remark about how the Wyld Stallyns could be better if they added Eddie Van Halen to their band. In an interview, Van Halen stated that if Bill and Ted had asked, he gladly would have joined the band!
9 - In the waterslide presentation scenes featuring Napoleon, it actually contains an Easter Egg of sorts! If you look closely at the map that is shown, it depicts Napoleon's plot to invade Russia with his army - one of Napoleon's costliest defeats. (See, I told you that the movie was a decent study aid!)
10 - Would you believe that Alex Winter and Keanu Reeves auditioned for the opposite roles that they were given?
11 - Appropriately enough, the waterpark that Napoleon is seen at is called "Waterloo".
12 - Interestingly enough, this isn't the only film in which "Abraham Lincoln" and "Genghis Khan" appear together. It's actually one of FOUR!
13 - Many of the extras at the mall scene were actual high school students from Cortez High School in Phoenix, Arizona. They were there on their lunch breaks!
14 - Pauly Shore auditioned for the role of Ted. Had he gotten the part, I admit that I probably wouldn't have liked it as much.
And, that's our look at Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure! I hope you enjoyed this Monday Matinee, and that it was totally triumphant.
Or at the very least...not bogus.