9
Dec 04

FT TOP 100 FILMS 3: BILL AND TED’S EXCELLENT ADVENTURE

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FT TOP 100 FILMS
3: BILL AND TED’S EXCELLENT ADVENTURE

Who are Bill S. Preston Esquire and Ted “Theodore” Logan? What lessons can we learn from their excellent adventure? Perhaps the only lesson is the piece of philosophy which, once espoused, was to turn the world into a soft rock Utopia. “Be excellent to one another”. It’s a simplistic treatise some might say, but the word excellent is an interesting one to use. Perhaps because it is peppered so liberally through the script here that we forget its true meaning, derived from excel. Let us excel in all our dealings with one another. Let us be the best we can be, let us strive for the greater good. And therefore be excellent.

In their time travels Bill and Ted encounter a wide range of historical characters, and abduct them briefly. There is a suggestion that this abduction galvanises their later deeds. Is it really Socrates who comes up with his method or is it Bill and Ted’s relaxed yet lively banter, argument without aggression? Does Joan Of Arc’s military nous come from God or the callisthenics she practices? Freud may well conjure up much of his theories from Bill’s relationship with his stepmom Missy. One may easily assume that Napoleon’s aggression comes from being ridiculed at the waterslides.

There is little in Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure that is startlingly original. The Valleyspeak gag was relatively old hat when Zappa did it (and got even older hat when Mike Myers did it). Time travelling phone booths seem oddly reminiscent of another very long running show. The approach to history is close to 1066 And All That. Even the metal which was going to save the world was on its way out. And yet the whole Bill and Ted package dazzles, so much so that Keanu Reeves can never quite step out from the shadow of Ted, and Alex Winter has had a pretty disastrous career since. Yet this is the epitome of low budget, high concept silliness which always makes me smile. The language, convoluted yet seamless is just part of its magic. Look at their historical shopping list after all? Would you want to be stuck in a phone box with this lot? Bill & Ted did, and still remained excellent to each other:

Napoleon
Sigmund Freud
Ghengis Khan
Billy The Kid
Socrates
Joan Of Arc
Abraham Lincoln
Ludwig van Beethoven

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