Dead Presidents

Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure

By Cody Wayne
June 1, 2003

  In association with the guys who made "Maximum Overdrive" a reality comes the story of two underachieving eighties dudes who save humanity by learning about world history and its effect on the present. Damn, sounds like what my generation needs to do, or at least what we should be doing. But let's keep my babbling whining and complaining down to a minimum, hmmm? After all, who am I to talk? I should just shut up and contribute to the Motherfucking Masterpieces of Acid Logic like the Forbis-serving slave I am and be happy. (About fucking time! - Wil Forbis, Publisher.)

Now c'mon. who could resist the TV trailers for "Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure?" "Put them in the iron maiden." "Excellent!" "Execute them." "Bogus." There's a tiny place in every late-twenty or early-thirtysomething's memory circuitry that will hold this quote to the grave. In fact, I pledge to make that quote my dying words. Or better yet, why not put my dying words to better use by uttering, in my very last two exhales, "Be excellent to each other. breathe. and party on dudes. die," that being the theme for the entire film and the simple message proposed by Bill S. Preston Esq. and Ted Theodore Logan. Wyld Stallyns!

At first glance, first pondering, first assumption, whatever the case may be, "Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure" might come off as a little. I don't know. immature? Stupid? Gay? Ridiculous? But the bottom line is, this film innocently puts into perspective the very idea that the problem with the world is that things, for reasons which are seemingly unstoppable at this point, have been getting increasingly more complicated and uncontrollable while the basic fundamentals of life and living are so steadfast, unchanging, and incredibly simple. The problem arises, of course, when these fundamentals are being, at least seemingly, completely ignored.

And then there's Bill and Ted. two guys who present themselves as the average uncaring, unmotivated, unrealistic fuck-heads who're part of what's wrong with the youth of today, or at least of the late-eighties. What this film shows is the way in which these two fuck-heads, when faced with most unprecedented events, are able to handle themselves simply by unconsciously following their own simple rules of life: Be excellent to each other and party on. I think this can be roughly translated to, "Treat everyone as you'd like to be treated and let's give everyone in the world a chance to have fun whenever they want." This could also be translated into, "Don't be a dick and let's get crazy like it's our mutha fuckin' job." However you read it, this simple two-part proposition, if followed precisely and without deviation, could save the world, and this film proposes exactly that.

Through the music that Bill and Ted produce, the world is altogether finally able to realize how important it really is to be cool with and rejoice in one another for there to be peace and unity in the world. Fuck, and I thought it could only be done through mass rioting and heavy doses of LSD. Rioting and tripping our way to peace and unity. Who knew that music, of all things, could be the messenger? What an unfathomable concept! Holy fucking shit! They're saying that music can save the world?! Those kids are on acid. Those kids don't know how the world works. God damn it, don't they realize how many people have to die and suffer before we can have peace? Don't they know that Jesus and the Kingdom of God will be their savior? Actually, the lunatics who seem to be running things will take nothing less than a brick to the cranium or crotch to wake 'em up from their fake-ass sleep. Someone needs to shoot fire out of their ass from the West Bank to say, "Stop fucking with us." The fuckin' loonies won't listen to anything outside their language of violence, aggression, and oppression. So, I guess, in essence, music has lost its meaning in the current world machine. Music is pointless unless it says nothing and can make money. Fuck the message. Fuck the Beatles. Fuck Hendrix. Fuck Dylan. Fuck Hagen. Fuck Ween. Fuck the Flaming Lips. Fuck Beck. Meaning is lost in revenue. And thus, my babbling is at an end.

But finally, there's a band that's pure, and it's Wyld Stallyns. They've got what it takes to break through the thick skulls scouring the earth. They are The Ones. But you can't just lay heavy shit like that on someone, give 'em a telephone booth time machine, and let 'em go nuts. There must be motivation and foreknowledge, and thus, the adventure really begins with George Carlin as Rufus, a guide from the future who helps jumpstart B & T into passing their final history presentation. a presentation which holds the future of Wyld Stallyns by the balls, and thus, the fate of the world by the balls. Gee, who woulda thought; history holding the balls of the present. But never mind the immediate time-traveling paradox formed by this premise, the important thing to keep in mind is the fact that history is put into focus as the most crucial yet overlooked subjects in the American curriculum. History, if not properly forgotten or at least regarded with disdain, could and should change the course of all current human actions, but alas, history is boring and it sucks, especially as presented to your average high schooler. History never offered me anything redeeming. That was one subject that always left me with the feeling that my mind had just been raped, that I'd been taken advantage of and left to live and wither away with the knowledge that I'd been used like a toilet. History reduced my mind to a dumping ground for facts, figures, and well-known events with no context or care, nothing to think about, nothing to debate, nothing controversial. It was sterile and lame. History is presented as an obstacle to be overcome, passed, and forgotten, or so it seems, at least in America, or at least at my school. But to Bill and Ted, history isn't a drag, it's a joke. Napoleon is a "short, dead dude," George Washington is "the dollar-bill guy," and Marco Polo is "just another water sport."

But, while poking fun at the way in which our culture has packaged and commodified history, "B&T'sEA" is also able to steer the audience away from such ignorant views to realize how a few every-day yet prominent historical figures were able to mold the world into what it is today. But, in the end, it's still just an info-taining rip-off of "Back to the Future," albeit a good one. A crucial plot point created by the two writers of B&T is the threat of military school faced by Ted, sending the message that, without the proper background of world history in everyone's life, a brainless droney military life (or at least some sort of government job) is sure to befall each and every human being, leaving the world a hopeless plane of gray eternity. Bogus.

Many other valuable lessons are learned in B&T'sEA. The power of group effort is demonstrated throughout the film from their rescue from the royal ugly dudes to doing Bill's chores to putting together a concert to benefit personages of historical significance, ie. Their history presentation. And although the ridiculousness of the film's premise can not be overemphasized, it's still an interesting study in the contemplation of what certain historical figures throughout time would think about the way things are at the present. Take Napoleon for example; loves the women of today, loves ice cream and bowling, and especially loves Waterloo. perfect name. Who knows what could be accomplished in the world if every life-sucking rich and powerful asshole throughout history could've be cooled down with a day of American water-park fun? Napoleon goes from being a dick, as Ted's brother, Dillon, so succinctly put, to finding out what it means to have genuine fun, even if it only lasted a few hours.

And by the end of the film, all the figures are besieged by the propositions put forth by Bill and Ted that are true in our time, were true in the past, and will continue to be true in the future: be excellent to each other and party on, dudes. There will always be a place for unconditional friendliness, peacefulness, and fun in the world. When that's destroyed, humanity will be lost for good. I have weird feelings that other sentient species are laying bets and calculating odds on the human race. The betting gets more intense as events unfold, like seven-card stud, betting on each card that's put down. They got some farmin' goin' on. put me down for the humans. Oh. wait. they're killing each other over land. put me down for destruction. Oooo. they just set up a United Nations coalition.uhhh, they're at it again. I've lost enough pargatrets on these human shits. Let's hit the other end of the galaxy and see what's shakin'.

As for the casting. perfect. The acting is incredible for the absurdity of the premise. Even George Carlin is good. (Who would've ever thought he would be in a movie like this?) Alex Winter and Keanu Reeves form one of the best on-screen duos ever, and the guys who play Socrates and Napoleon are straight out of history. The most depressing part about this whole film is. what the fuck happened to Alex Winter? Well, he's got himself a few set up by fans and seems to be pursuing a career in writing and directing. Thank god, 'cause that guy's got a fucked up mind that needs to be milked for all it's worth. Remember "Eddie the Flying Gimp" from MTV's The Idiot Box? Holy fucking shit. That's one variety show that was way ahead of its time. too ahead of its time, thus, the abrupt cancellation after about one season. Absurdist comedy shows weren't really makin' it in the limelight in the early 90's from what I remember.

One last thing: I still get a little overwhelmed emotionally at a certain point in the film, much like I still get at the end of "Raising Arizona" and "A Christmas Story." It's when B & T accidentally go into the future and meet the world they've created through Wyld Stallyns. They approach the situation calmly, childishly, and honestly to such a degree as to cause absolute admiration and a warm feeling of complete happiness. And the eighties soundtrack goes perfectly during the scene. In fact, the eighties soundtrack throughout the film is stellar (in its eighties way), like when they pick up Joan of Arc and when the historical crew rampages the local mall.

Dude, this movie is fuckin' excellent.


Check out the Cody Wayne blog: Rancor and Disdain!

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