Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure (1989)


Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure is a 1989 American science fiction comedy buddy film and the first film in the Bill & Ted franchise in which two slackers travel through time to assemble a menagerie of historical figures for their high school history presentation.

The film was written by Chris Matheson and Ed Solomon and directed by Stephen Herek. It stars Alex Winter as Bill S. Preston, Esquire, Keanu Reeves as Ted “Theodore” Logan, and George Carlin as Rufus. Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure received reviews which were mostly positive upon release and was commercially successful. It is now considered a cult classic. A sequel, Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey, was released two years later

In Futuristic City, 2688, humanity exists as a utopian society due to the inspiration of the music and wisdom of the Two Great Ones: Bill S. Preston, Esq. (Alex Winter) and Ted “Theodore” Logan (Keanu Reeves). Rufus (George Carlin) is tasked by the leaders to travel back to San Dimas, California, in 1988 using a time machine disguised as a telephone booth to ensure that Bill and Ted, who are dimwitted metalhead slacker high school students, get a good grade in their final history oral report and allow them to pass the class. Should they fail, Ted’s father, Police Captain John Logan (Hal Langdon), plans to ship Ted to a military academy in Alaska, ending Bill and Ted’s fledgling band, the “Wyld Stallyns”, thus altering the future. Bill, meanwhile, has a crush on his father’s new wife, barely older than himself.

Bill and Ted struggle with the report, which asks them to envision how three historical figures would see San Dimas in the present. While they are asking strangers at the local Circle K convenience store for help, Rufus arrives in the time machine. The two are distrustful until the time machine arrives again nearby, out from which step future versions of Bill and Ted. They prove to their younger selves that they are really them and that they should trust Rufus. They privately ask Rufus a question and then depart. The younger versions of Bill and Ted accept Rufus’ offer to take them into the past. Rufus takes them to a battlefield in Austria, 1805 where Napoleon Bonaparte (Terry Camilleri) is commanding the French army against Austria. They return to the present, unaware that the time machine has caught Napoleon in its wake and pulled him along. Landing near Ted’s house, Rufus reminds them that they must still reach the school on time to give their report and then departs, returning the time machine to them. The two discover Napoleon stuck in a tree, and after freeing him, come up with the idea of kidnapping other historical figures to bring to the present. They leave Napoleon with Ted’s younger brother, Deacon (Frazier Bain), and start traveling through time.

The two befriend Billy the Kid (Dan Shor) in The Old West, 1879 and Socrates (Tony Steedman) in Ancient Greece, 410 BC before stopping in London, 1461 where they become infatuated with Princesses Elizabeth (Kimberley Kates) and Joanna (Diane Franklin). The teens anger the princesses’ father, who orders their beheading, but they are rescued by Billy and Socrates. They are forced to leave without the princesses and, in the escape, the telephone booth is damaged. Dialing a random number, they land next in the Utopian future, where Bill and Ted are amazed by the music playing and that the citizens worship them. They leave after a brief stay and, believing they have plenty of time before the report, start collecting more historical figures for extra credit, including Sigmund Freud (Rod Loomis) in Vienna, 1901, Ludwig van Beethoven (Clifford David) in Vienna, 1809, Joan of Arc (Jane Wiedlin) in Orléans, 1429, Genghis Khan (Al Leong) in Mongolia, 1209, and Abraham Lincoln (Robert V. Barron) in Washington, D.C. in 1863. Having run out of room in the phone booth, Bill and Ted finally discover the time machine is damaged.

After making ad hoc repairs to the time machine, Bill and Ted try to return to the present but land outside the Circle K, recognizing the situation they previously witnessed. After reassuring their younger selves, they learn from Rufus how to dial the right number to get to their present. Ted finds Deacon had ditched Napoleon earlier out of embarrassment. They leave the other historical figures at the local mall to experience San Dimas while they look for Napoleon, finding him at the water slide park “Waterloop”, the name based on the Napoleon’s famous battle of “Waterloo“. They discover the historical figures had caused trouble and have been arrested by Captain Logan. They figure out how they can use the time machine to set up an event at the police station to allow them to free the historical figures without getting caught. After employing the historical figures to help get the household chores done, Bill’s mother drives them to the high school. Arriving just in time, they give an impressive presentation with the help of the historical figures that receives a standing ovation. They pass their course, and return the historical figures to their proper times.

Later, as Bill and Ted are practicing, Rufus arrives, showing he had rescued the princesses from England and introduced them to the modern world, and that they become part of Wyld Stallyns. Elated, Bill and Ted resume their practice with their usual ineptitude, with Rufus breaking the fourth wall and promising, “They do get better …”

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The movie:

Join us for a beer tasting before a screening of BILL & TED’S EXCELLENT ADVENTURE! Sample three beers before selecting your favorite for a pint to enjoy during the film! Also includes snacks from the Torpedo Room, trivia with Squirrel, and more! With only a few days before their high-school graduation, it looks like air-headed rock star wannabes Bill (Alex Winter) and Ted (Keanu Reeves) are doomed to flunk all their finals. The boys’ long-suffering teacher (Bernie Casey) gives them one more chance. If they can ace a presentation on the topic of how a famous historical personality might react to modern times, they will be allowed to pass. If not, Ted’s dad will plunk the boy into military school, thereby ruining our chances to watch POINT BREAK and THE MATRIX. Bill and Ted receive aid from a very unexpected source: Rufus (George Carlin), an Emissary from the Future. It seems that in Rufus’s time, Bill and Ted’s rock music is the basis of all society, and if their band is aborted, Rufus’s world will no longer exist. Thus, Bill and Ted are whisked off in a time machine (actually a telephone booth) to retrieve a few historical characters including Joan of Arc, Abe Lincoln, Napoleon and Beethoven–as “eyewitnesses” for their crucial oral exam.

Rating: PG
Genre: Action & Adventure, Comedy, Science Fiction & Fantasy
Directed By: Stephen Herek
In Theaters:  wide

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