For the first time on Blu-ray, everyone’s favorite time-traveling, air-guitaring, most triumphant dudes are back. In time. That’s stupid, forget I said that. I haven’t watched Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure in years. I used to watch it all the time when I was a kid, and I’m sure that this and Back to the Future were the ultimate cause of my love of time travel stories. This is definitely my first time watching the film since falling passionately in love with the long running sci-fi series Doctor Who, and I was surprised to see a lot of parallels between the two. Obviously, Bill and Ted travel through space and time in a phone booth and the image of the Doctor’s Tardis springs to mind. In addition, the concept of time travel functions very similarly in both stories. Bill and Ted centers around a series of fixed points in time, while the Doctor experiences moments in time that are more in flux, but it’s still the same basic rules for both worlds.
For those unfamiliar with the story, Bill and Ted (Alex Winter and Keanu Reeves) are the most famous people in the whole of history. 7000 years in the future, the world has evolved into a completely utopian society, inspired by Bill and Ted’s music. However, this future can’t exist unless our heroes pass their History final. So, an ambassador from the future, Rufus (George Carlin), must go back to ensure that they do well on their final presentation. To do this, he gives them a time machine to do with as they please and they travel through time and space to collect famous historical figures.
I was really surprised at how much I enjoyed watching this as an adult. The nostalgic factor really creeps up on you and before you know it, you’re 6 years old again, celebrating the arrival of pizza with an air guitar. Yes, Bill and Ted are flat, interchangeable characters, but it raises some interesting questions about the nature of time travel. Since our heroes are so incredibly stupid, they are almost incapable of creating paradoxes. It wouldn’t occur to them to go back and change something for their personal gain, and thus there’s never any chance of them ripping the universe apart. Some amateurs might question the concept of removing important figures from history; saying that if they disappear from history, history itself must change, but time is not a strict progression of cause to effect. Rather, from a non-linear, non-subjective viewpoint, time is more like a big ball of wibbly wobbly, timey wimey stuff. Clearer?
I was also impressed with the blu-ray transfer of the film. It’s very clean and crisp, and the wonderfully terrible 1980s special effects are brought to vivid life. Special features include a discussion between the two writers of the film (Chris Matheson and Ed Solomon), in which the “original Bill and Ted” discuss the evolution of the script. Other special features include an air guitar tutorial, an episode of the Bill & Ted Animated Series, and the theatrical trailer. The air guitar tutorial is one of the most absurd things I’ve ever seen. They interview two “renowned” air guitar “champions.” It’s ridiculous to me that there are actual air guitar competitions, and it’s more ridiculous how seriously the competitors take it. Obviously, there’s a lot of showmanship in the actual performance with an air guitar, but to hear them talk about their “craft” and how much they practice and how there’s no real distinction between playing an air guitar and a real guitar is crazy to behold.
Available Now on Blu-ray from 20th Century Fox