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Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure(1989)
Keanu Reeves (The Matrix) and Alex Winter (The Lost Boys) deliver "spirited performances" (The Hollywood Reporter) in the original righteous comedy about the two ditzy dudes from San Dimas, California. Also starring George Carlin, this hysterically funny historical comedy is a "snappily directed" (Time), "bouncy good time" (The Boston Globe) and a party that goes on and on! Bill (Winter) and Ted (Reeves) have spent so much time forming their rock band, The Wyld Stallyns, that they're flunking history. Whoa, duuuude! And when Ted's dad threatens to send him away to military school, Bill and Ted realize it could mean the most heinous end of The Stallyns! Luckily, a guardian angel from the future, Rufus (Carlin), has come to them with a most bodacious solution: a time-traversing phone booth to take them into the past to learn about the world from some of history's most influential personalities.
For more about Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure and the Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure Blu-ray release, see Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure Blu-ray Review published by Casey Broadwater on November 15, 2012 where this Blu-ray release scored 3.5 out of 5.
Starring: Keanu Reeves, Alex Winter, George Carlin, Dan Shor, Tony Steedman, Rod Loomis
Director: Stephen Herek
» See full cast & crew
Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure Blu-ray Review
Party on, dudes!
Reviewed by Casey Broadwater, November 15, 2012
Dude, 1989 was a totally righteous year. The Simpsons and Seinfeld premiered. American Gladiators introduced us to Lace, Zap, Nitro, and Blaze. Nintendo released the Game Boy and Billy Joel claimed that "We Didn't Start the Fire." And then there was Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure, possibly the dumbest movie to have ever achieved cult classic status. I say that with all possible affection. Like Dumb & Dumber, Bill & Ted is loveably idiotic and infinitely quotable. ("You killed Ted, you medieval dickweed!") It also tends to inspire nostalgia for mid-to-late-thirty-somethings who are old enough to have seen it when it came out in theaters. The film is basically a time capsule for the end of the '80s, the era of pre-grunge metal, bad hair/clothes, and primitive CGI. With a new Bill & Ted adventure apparently in the works—with an estimated 2014 release date—now's as good a time as any to open that time capsule and revisit the film. For its Blu-ray debut, MGM has given Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure a bodacious high definition transfer that has it looking better than ever. Sure, the film itself hasn't aged particularly well, but that's kind of the point—it's arguably more entertaining today precisely because of how dated it is. This is juvenile comedy history.
And history is what the movie is all about. Bill S. Preston, Esq. (Alex Winter) and Theodore "Ted" Logan (Keanu Reeves), are teenaged imbeciles "in danger of flunking most heinously" out of their San Dimas High School world history class if they don't nail their final presentation. This would put a serious cramp on their plans to the rock out with their band Wyld Stallyns—never mind the fact that they both suck at guitar—since Ted's hardass-cop dad (Hal Langdon) has promised to send him to military school in Alaska if he fails. What the two metalhead morons don't know is that 700 years in the future, their music has somehow put an end to all war and has become the cultural foundation for a peaceful new world order. Sure. Okay. Gotcha.
One of the denizens of this utopia is Rufus (George Carlin), who's tasked with going back in time in a tricked-out telephone booth—yes, it's a bold ripoff of/homage to Dr. Who's TARDIS—and helping Bill and Ted ace their project. What better way, of course, than to give them full access to the time machine and a telephone book containing the dates of important historical events? After their future selves show up in a Circle-K parking lot to convince them that this is definitely a good idea, Bill and Ted embark on their most excellent adventure, hopping through history and picking up a few hitchhikers along the way.
It's Terry Gilliam's Time Bandits, essentially—but stupefied, translated into SoCal slang, and given a baked stoner glaze. The middle section of the movie is a series of cliche-addled vignettes where Bill and Ted arrive in in a particular time period, get in some bogus trouble, and then make a narrow escape with an historical figure in tow. They bring pint-sized Napoleon (Terry Camilleri) to 1989, where he learns about ice cream, gets kicked out of a bowling alley, and goes to the "Waterloo" water park. They do some philosophizing with Socrates (Tony Steedman)—or "So-Crates," as they call him—and make a clean getaway with Billy the Kid (Dan Shor). After falling in love with two 15th century English princesses, they make a last- minute grab for "extra credit" points, snagging Sigmund Freud (Rod Loomis), Joan of Arc (Jane Weidlin), Ludvig Von Beethoven (Clifford David), Genghis Khan (Al Leong), and Abraham Lincoln (Robert V. Barron).
The script makes some pretty typical gags about each of these figures—see Freud's limp hot-dog-on-a-stick bit—but writers Chris Matheson and Ed Solomon joyously riff on the stereotypical traits of the kidnapped historical costars, especially when the whole anachronistic gang is transported to the San Dimas shopping center. Joan of Arc goes nuts for Jazzercize. Beethoven draws a crowd in the piano store. Genghis Khan takes on security guards with a skateboard and a baseball bat. It's probably the goofiest sequence ever shot at a mall, barring the pie-fight scene from George Romero's Dawn of the Dead. Naturally, Abe Lincoln gives the film's climatic, call-to-action speech, which bids us all to "be excellent to each other, and party on, dudes!"
I doubt many would argue that Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure is a good movie—let alone an excellent one—but it is fun, and that's all it's really trying to be. It wouldn't work nearly as well, though, if it weren't for the dopey charm of its two leads, whose perfectly played characters have since become fixtures on the pop culture landscape of the late '80s and early '90s. Keanu, of course, is now a box office megastar— albeit one who's had some trouble escaping his early typecasting as a good-natured ignoramus—and while Alex Winter isn't as visible on screen now, he's gone on to a regular career directing films, TV shows, and music videos. But to many, they'll always be Bill and Ted, the guys who think Joan of Arc was "Noah's wife" and that Caesar was the "salad dressing dude." The guys who live by the credo that "the only true wisdom consists in knowing that you know nothing."
Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure Blu-ray, Video Quality
Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure time-warps from 1989 to 2012 with a most righteous—or, at least, mostly righteous—1080p/AVC- encoded Blu-ray presentation. I was kind of surprised by how great the film looks in high definition. MGM has treated the movie well, with a seemingly true-to-source transfer of a very clean print. You might catch a couple of errant white flecks here and there, but you'd really have to go out of your way to look for them. Better yet, the picture is unmarred by digital noise reduction, harsh edge enhancement, or compression woes. Grain is readily visible in the image—it's a bit chunky, without being obtrusive—and though the film only sits on a single layer, 25 GB disc, there are no overt banding or artifacting issues. If some scenes appear a little soft, it's likely that they've always been that way, and for the most part, clarity gets a tremendous boost from the DVD edition, with tighter facial textures, more visible clothing patterns, and more historical detail. (See how obviously fake Lincoln's mole appliance looks now.) Color seems accurate as well—no oversaturation or wishy-washyness here—and contrast is natural, neither adversely crushing shadow detail or breaking apart highlights. Fans should be pleased.
Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure Blu-ray, Audio Quality
The film gets a decent aural upgrade as well—I imagine Bill and Ted would probably make some sort of aural/oral joke here—with a lossless DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround track that rocks sufficiently hard. Most of the action blasts from up front, but given all the time travel shenanigans and historical tomfoolery, the multi-channel mix finds plenty of occasions to engage the rear speakers with effects. Electricity arcs and crackles. Horses gallop from one side to the other. The inter-chronal phone booth darts and swooshes through the time tubes. Ambience is more modest and restrained, but it's there if you listen for it. Of course, music is the big draw here, and it all sounds great, from the orchestral cues to the air guitar solo shredding to the uber-1980s "Two Heads Are Better Than One," by the band Nelson, who were billed here as "Power Tool." Throughout all the madness, dialogue is always balanced and easily understood, although there are a few instances where volume seems to dip slightly. The disc also includes a Spanish Dolby Digital mono dub, along with English SDH, Spanish, and French subtitles.
Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
The disc doesn't have all the supplemental material from the 2005 Bill & Ted's Most Excellent Collection—which contained both films and a bonus disc—but it has most of the extras pertinent to the the original movie:
Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
Like Dumb & Dumber or Napoleon Dynamite, Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure is a loveably stupid comedy that's completely of its time. And like many cult classics, it's hardly a "good" film, but its dated ridiculousness is precisely what makes it fun. MGM's Blu-ray release presents a solid video/audio upgrade from DVD, and I wouldn't be surprised if the studio is carefully tracking sales number of the title to gauge interest in the long- rumored upcoming third film in the franchise. If you're a Bill & Ted fan, show your support!
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Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure Blu-ray, News and Updates
• Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure - September 7, 2012
20th Century Fox and MGM Home Entertainment will release on Blu-ray director Stephen Herek's Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure (1989), starring Keanu Reeves, Alex Winter, George Carlin, Dan Shor, Ted Steedman, and Rod Loomis. Street date is November 13th.
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