I don’t actually remember the first time I watched “Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure” — I might have been a little too young and it definitely was on VHS.
Through the years, I have been stunned by the number of people who have told me that (1) they never have seen it and (2) they don’t like it.
I have come to the conclusion that most people miss the true message of the film.
The basic premise of “Bill and Ted” is somewhat inconceivable, I’ll grant you.
Two 1980s high school seniors find out they will flunk out of school if they don’t pass their history presentation.
Bill S. Preston Esq. (Alex Winter) and Ted “Theodore” Logan III (Keanu Reeves) have been more concerned with how to launch their rock band, Wyld Stallyns, and landing Eddie Van Halen as a guitarist than with passing high school.
But Ted’s father has other ideas and threatens to send Ted to an Alaskan military school if he doesn’t change his ways.
Meanwhile, a future utopian society that is a byproduct of their band’s not-yet-written music is threatened by the possibility that the band will never fully come to fruition.
This future society sends a mysterious man named Rufus (George Carlin) to guide them as they travel back in time and gain firsthand experience to help them to pass their history class.
This is where things become a little crazy, because instead of just learning, they decide to bring several historical figures back to the future to spice up their presentation.
Thus begins the most excellent adventure.
What I think happens with most people who decide they don’t like “Bill and Ted” is that they make the most bogus of mistakes — taking things way too seriously and missing the actual message of the movie.
Reeves and Winter are loveable doofuses in this movie, and they play their parts beautifully.
If you have followed Reeves’ career at all, you probably have seen the depth of range he can manage. Think Johnny Utah in “Point Break,” Don John in “Much Ado About Nothing,” Paul Sutton in “A Walk in the Clouds,” Klaatu in the remake of “The Day the Earth Stood Still” or Kai in “47 Ronin” — and honestly, I am just scratching the surface.
Sure, you could just chalk up “Bill and Ted” as a ridiculous ’80s comedy, but the ultimate message of the film is pretty clear.
While the obvious moral is about the unifying power of music, it’s important to notice the most important theme woven throughout the film: “Be Excellent to Each Other.”
Maybe if we all took our cues from “Bill and Ted,” the world would be a better place.