As always, Spoiler Alert.
Some movies, you have to see at just the right time in your life for them to work.
Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure, which came out in 1989, and the 1991 sequel, Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey, were two movies I always placed firmly in that category in my head. It’s the main reason I’d never seen them. The movies, about two lovable slackers, were clearly geared towards a teenage demographic, and since I didn’t see them when I was a teenager myself, I figured it was simply a missed opportunity.
It wasn’t even a missed opportunity that I regretted. There are a tonne of movies I’ve not seen, after all, and these were just two more to add to the list. I never expected them to get crossed off of that list. Not even for Keanu Reeves, one of a small number of actors whose movies I will watch specifically because they’re in them.
Cue my friend M.
M’s one of my movie buddies. She knows I enjoy Reeves’ work, and was surprised to learn I’d never seen either of the Bill & Ted movies. Not long after, when she came over for a visit, she brought me Bill & Ted’s Excellent Double Feature. (This would be sometime after the third movie was announced, but before it was released.) She’d come across it while shopping and thought I might like to fill in Reeves’ back catalogue.
It was the sweetest thing, but I admit, it did take me a while to actually watch them. I’ve tried going back to old movies that people in my generation adore and never cared for any of them, so I didn’t hold out much hope for these. It wasn’t, I assumed, the right time in my life. Or, as I like to put it, “I’m not 12 years old anymore.”
Surprisingly, though, I think this was a better time for me to watch the Bill & Ted movies than when I was 12 years old. Why? Because I was a really uptight child, and I would have hated both Bill and Ted. No amount of lovableness could have countered my judgement of their slacker nature. But I’m much more relaxed now, so even though I still don’t like the lovable slacker trope, I can see past it.
While most of the humour, like Death getting a wedgie in the clip above, is too juvenile for my tastes, it was interesting to catch old pop-culture stuff I’d forgotten. It was wonderful to see George Carlin. And I enjoyed the many heavy metal references, something there’s no way in hell 12-year-old me would have caught.
Plus, unlike most lovable slackers, Bill and Ted are actually kinda lovable. It’s a testament to both Reeves’ and Alex Winter’s acting ability that they manage to play a couple of inherently annoying characters and have them be not at all annoying. I mean, it’s not like I’m going to start saying things are bogus or most excellent, or playing air guitar, but I can see why they caught on.
I think perhaps the biggest surprise for me, though, was the takeaway message – mainly because I didn’t expect there to be one. But when you get right down to it, clueless as they may be, Bill and Ted’s general philosophy in life is a good one. We should, indeed, “Be excellent to each other.”
To see other posts in my venture to watch my movie collection in alphabetical(ish) order, click here.