For this week’s “Things That Bring Back Memories” post, I am going to pick something in the topic of “MOVIES” and go with “Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure“. This movie was released in 1989, and was one that so many remember that were from “back in the day”.
Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure was one that most of my friends were quoting while in school. The raising of the hands, the air guitars and everyone was saying “Excellent, Dude”. Oh, the memories. It was also one that made us think that homework might actually be fun…if we were able to travel in a phone booth, though, that is! 🙂
If, for some reason, you are of an age that makes it difficult to remember Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure movie, here’s a preview of what it was about:
Did you ever watch the Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure movie when you were younger? or have you seen it on TV or Netflix later in life? Let me know what you thought of it, and if you have any memories of it in your life!
More Info on the Movie:
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 Keanu Reeves as Ted “Theodore” Logan, Alex Winter as Bill S. Preston, Esquire, 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 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 dim-witted metalhead high school students, get an A+ on their final history oral report to allow them to pass the class they have been failing all year. 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 and Ted are trying to ask strangers at a Circle K store for help with their history assignment due the next day, to describe how three historical figures would react to contemporary San Dimas, when Rufus arrives in the telephone booth. The teens are skeptical of Rufus’s claims, until another copy of the telephone booth lands nearby and versions of Bill and Ted from the near future step out. The future versions convince their younger counterparts to trust Rufus, then take Rufus aside for a brief conversation out of earshot before they return to their telephone booth and disappear. Rufus offers the teens a demonstration, taking them to Paris, 1805 where Napoleon Bonaparte (Terry Camilleri) is leading his forces against Austria. As they depart in the telephone booth, an explosion knocks Napoleon into the wake, and he is dragged along through the time circuits.
Rufus, Bill and Ted arrive back at Ted’s house, where Rufus reminds them that time will continue to move forward for them regardless of the use of the telephone booth, and to not be late for their report. After he leaves, Bill and Ted find Napoleon lying next to a tree, unconscious. The two get an idea to get other historical figures to bring them to present San Dimas to get their experiences directly. They leave Napoleon with Ted’s younger brother, Deacon (Frazier Bain), and deal with Ted’s father, who believes Ted has stolen a missing set of keys to the police station, before heading to the past.
The two befriend Billy the Kid (Dan Shor) in The Old West, 1879 and Socrates (Tony Steedman) in Ancient Greece, 410 B.C. (to whom they refer as “So-crates” /ˈsoʊkreɪts/), before stopping in London, 15th-century, 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, Genghis Khan (Al Leong) in Mongolia, 1209, Joan of Arc (Jane Wiedlin) in Orléans, 1429, and Abraham Lincoln (Robert V. Barron) in Washington, D.C., 1863. Having run out of room in the phone booth, Bill and Ted finally discover the time machine is damaged. Meanwhile, Deacon and his friends take Napoleon for ice cream followed by bowling; however, he embarrasses them at both places and they abandon him as he screams foul language in French following a gutter ball.
Stopping in prehistoric times, Bill and Ted make crude repairs to the machine and program it to return to the present. However, they end up outside the Circle K store on the previous night, where Rufus was introducing himself to them. They convince their earlier selves of Rufus’s trustworthiness, and the earlier unheard conversation is revealed to be where Rufus is instructing them how to get to the correct day by “dialing a number higher”. Furthermore, in the present timeline of San Dimas, Rufus tells Bill and Ted that they have two hours left to do their report; the teens, having forgotten Rufus’s earlier warning, thought they had plenty of time.
When they arrive in the present timeline of San Dimas the next morning, Ted learns that Deacon has ditched Napoleon; Deacon said it was because the French emperor was a “dick.” They leave the other historical figures at the local mall to learn about San Dimas while they seek out Napoleon at a local water park, “Waterloo”. Unattended, the historical figures unknowingly cause mayhem at the mall and are arrested by Captain Logan. Bill and Ted arrive at the police station and Ted tries to persuade his father to release their historical figures. He refuses, and orders Ted to get ready for his departure to military academy. Bill and Ted execute an escape plan based on using the time machine in the future to set up what they need now, including stealing the police keys in the past to release the historical figures. They are caught by Captain Logan, but a trash can (also planned by the boys in the future) lands on him, allowing the group to escape. They arrive at school on time to give their presentation, which is a rousing success and allows them to pass the course. They send the historical figures back to their own times.
Later that night, as they practice, Bill and Ted lament the fact that despite their experiences nothing has really changed for them. Rufus returns to Bill and Ted and presents them with the two princesses before they were committed to pre-arranged marriages, noting that the women will also be part of Wyld Stallyns. Rufus goes on to explain that it was his duty to help the boys because, without each other, life in 2688 would be disastrous; with the Wyld Stallyns’ music, however, war and poverty would end, the planets would align in harmony (allowing contact with all forms of life “from extraterrestrials to common household pets”), and “it’s excellent for dancing.” As a little favor, Rufus asks for their autographs on behalf of his children, gives the boys two new guitars, and plays a little bit rather well. With new band members and new instruments, Bill and Ted agree that they have had an excellent adventure. Listening to the cacophony the band makes, Rufus turns to the audience and says, “They do get better.”
Some of the Characters:
Keanu Reeves (Ted Logan) was born September 2, 1964. He is a Canadian actor, director, producer, musician, and author. Reeves is most well known for his acting career, beginning in 1985 and spanning for more than three decades. He gained fame for his starring role performances in several blockbuster films including comedies from the Bill and Ted franchise (1989-1991), action thrillers Point Break (1991) and Speed (1994), and the science fiction-action trilogy The Matrix (1999-2003). He has also appeared in several dramatic films such as Dangerous Liaisons (1988), My Own Private Idaho (1991), and Little Buddha (1993). Since becoming active in the film industry, Reeves’ abilities have earned critical acclaim. One New York Times critic praised Reeves’ versatility, saying that he “displays considerable discipline and range. He moves easily between the buttoned-down demeanor that suits a police procedural story and the loose-jointed manner of his comic roles.” Even with an amplitude of skills, Reeves has spent much of his later career being typecast. A recurring character arc in many roles he has portrayed is one of saving the world, as can be seen in the characters of Ted Logan, Buddha, Neo, Johnny Mnemonic, John Constantine and Klaatu. His acting has garnered several awards including a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. During his film career, Reeves has engaged in several forms of artistic expression. He played bass guitar in the bands Dogstar and Becky. Acting onstage, he performed as Prince Hamlet for the Manitoba Theatre Centre’s production of Hamlet. He wrote the text for a picture book, Ode to Happiness, illustrated by Alexandra Grant. He has also produced a documentary, Side by Side, and directed the martial arts film Man of Tai Chi.
Alex Winter (Bill S. Preston Esq.) was born in London, England. He is Jewish. His mother, Gregg Mayer, is a New York-born American who was a former Martha Graham dancer and founded a modern-dance company in London in the mid-1960’s. His father, Ross Albert Winter, was Australian and danced with Winter’s mother’s troupe. Winter received training in dance as a child. When he was five, his family moved to Missouri, where his father ran the Mid-American Dance Company, while his mother taught dance at Washington University in St. Louis. The two divorced in 1973. Alex was married to Sonya Dawson with whom he had a son, Leroy Winter, born in 1998. Winter maintains dual British and American citizenship. He is an actor, film director and screenwriter, best known for his role as Bill S. Preston, Esq. in the 1989 film Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure and its 1991 sequel Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey. He is also well known for his role as Marko in the 1987 cult classic The Lost Boys, and for co-writing, co-directing and starring in the 1993 film Freaked.
George Carlin (Rufus) (May 12, 1937 – June 22, 2008) was an American stand-up comedian, social critic, actor, and author. Carlin was noted for his black comedy and his thoughts on politics, the English language, psychology, religion, and various taboo subjects. Carlin and his “Seven dirty words” comedy routine were central to the 1978 U.S. Supreme Court case F.C.C. v. Pacifica Foundation, in which a 5–4 decision affirmed the government’s power to regulate indecent material on the public airwaves. He is widely regarded as one of the most important and influential stand-up comedians: One newspaper called Carlin “the dean of counterculture comedians.” In 2004, Carlin was placed second on the Comedy Central list of the 100 greatest stand-up comedians, ahead of Lenny Bruce and behind Richard Pryor. The first of his 14 stand-up comedy specials for HBO was filmed in 1977. From the late 1980’s, Carlin’s routines focused on socio-cultural criticism of modern American society. He often commented on contemporary political issues in the United States and satirized the excesses of American culture. He was a frequent performer and guest host on The Tonight Show during the three-decade Johnny Carson era, and hosted the first episode of Saturday Night Live. His final HBO special, It’s Bad for Ya, was filmed less than four months before his death. In 2008, he was posthumously awarded the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor.
Did You Know?
The phone booth time machine in the film was given away as a contest prize in Nintendo Power magazine, as the magazine was promoting a then-new Bill and Ted game for the NES.
When Napoleon finishes his “waterslide” presentation at the end of the movie, Ted looks up and says, “I don’t think it’s gonna work.” If you look closely at the maps, you can see that Napoleon is actually diagramming the French invasion of Russia, Napoleon’s most disastrous defeat.
In the original script, the time machine was a 1969 Chevy Van, but the filmmakers thought that it would be a rip-off of Back to the Future (1985). So, they changed it to a phone booth (apparently unconcerned that Doctor Who (1963) uses a police telephone box as its time machine). Also, when they used the van, Bill and Ted picked up more historical figures than they did in the final film.
The mall scene was filmed at Metrocenter Mall in Phoenix, Arizona in 1987. Some of the extras in the scene were kids from a local high school, Cortez, while they were there on their lunch break.
The picture on Ted’s t-shirt is the cover photo for Van Halen’s “Why Can’t This Be Love” single, for sale during the Van Halen 5150 tour and very commonly seen on Van Halen fans in the late 1980’s. This was Sammy Hagar’s first tour with Van Halen after replacing David Lee Roth.
The exterior shots of Bill and Ted’s high school are of Coronado High School in Scottsdale, Arizona. The striking mosaic is featured on the school’s auditorium facade and was designed by art teacher Mr. Gatti and the students in the early 1960s.
The Circle K is in San Dimas at the corner of Walnut and Bonita Ave. The scenes at the convenience store were at least partially filmed at the Circle K at the northwest corner of Southern and Hardy in Tempe, Arizona.
Beethoven was deaf, making it impossible for him to have been impressed by the “demo” function on the keyboard in the music store.
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