Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure

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Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure
Bill & Ted.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Stephen Herek
Produced by Scott Kroopf
Michael S. Murphey
Joel Soisson
Written by Chris Matheson
Ed Solomon
Starring Keanu Reeves
Alex Winter
George Carlin
Music by David Newman
Cinematography Tim Suhrstedt
Edited by Larry Bock
Patrick Rand
Production
company
Distributed by Nelson Entertainment through Orion Pictures (USA)
De Laurentiis Entertainment Group (non-USA)[1]
Release dates February 17, 1989
Running time 90 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $10,000,000 (estimated)
Box office $40,485,039 (domestic)

Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure is a 1989 American science fiction comedy buddy film and the first film in the Bill & Ted franchise in which two slackers travel through time to assemble a menagerie of historical figures for their high school history presentation.[2]

The film was written by Chris Matheson and Ed Solomon and directed by Stephen Herek. It stars Keanu Reeves as Ted "Theodore" Logan, Alex Winter as Bill S. Preston, Esquire, and George Carlin as Rufus. Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure received reviews which were mostly positive upon release and was commercially successful. It is now considered a cult classic. A sequel, Bill & Ted's Bogus Journey, was released two years later. An untitled third film is in development.[3]

Plot[edit]

In 2688, humanity exists as a utopian society due to the inspiration of the music and wisdom of the Two Great Ones: Bill S. Preston, Esq. (Alex Winter) and Ted "Theodore" Logan (Keanu Reeves). Rufus (George Carlin) is tasked by the leaders to travel back to San Dimas, California, of 1988 using a time machine disguised as a phone booth to ensure that Bill and Ted, who are dim-witted metalhead high school students, successfully pass a history class. Should they fail, Ted's father, Police Captain John Logan (Hal Langdon), plans to ship Ted to the Oats military academy in Alaska, ending Bill & Ted's fledgling band, the "Wyld Stallyns", and altering the future.

Bill and Ted are trying to ask strangers at a Circle K store for help with their history assignment due the next day, to describe how three historical figures would react to contemporary San Dimas, when Rufus arrives in the phone booth. The teens are skeptical of Rufus's claims, until another copy of the phone booth lands nearby and versions of Bill and Ted from the near future step out. The future versions convince their younger counterparts to trust Rufus, then take Rufus aside for a brief conversation out of earshot before they return to their phone booth and disappear. Rufus offers the teens a demonstration, taking them to 1805 where Napoleon Bonaparte (Terry Camilleri) is leading his forces against Austria. As they depart in the phone booth, an explosion knocks Napoleon into the wake, and he is dragged along behind the phone booth through the time circuits.

Rufus, Bill and Ted arrive back at Ted's house, where Rufus reminds them that time will continue to move forward for them regardless of the use of the phone booth, and to not be late for their report. After he leaves, Bill and Ted find Napoleon stuck in a nearby tree. The two get an idea: to get other historical figures to bring them to present San Dimas to get their experiences directly. They leave Napoleon with Ted's younger brother, Deacon (Frazier Bain), and deal with Ted's father who believes Ted has stolen a missing set of keys to the police station, before heading to the past.

The two are able to successfully befriend Billy the Kid (Dan Shor) from 1879 and Socrates (Tony Steedman) from 410 B.C. (whom they refer to as 'So-crates' /ˈskrts/), before stopping in 15th century England, where they become infatuated with Princesses Elizabeth (Kimberley Kates) and Joanna (Diane Franklin). However, the teens anger the princesses' father who orders their beheading, but they are rescued by Billy and Socrates. In the escape, the phone booth is damaged, and they land next in the Utopian future, where Bill and Ted realize their importance. They decide to take the report seriously and set off to collect more historical figures for extra credit, including Sigmund Freud (Rod Loomis) from 1901, Ludwig van Beethoven (Clifford David) from 1809, Genghis Khan (Al Leong) from 1209, Joan of Arc (Jane Wiedlin) from 1429, and Abraham Lincoln (Robert V. Barron) from 1863. After a brief stop in prehistoric times, it becomes clear that the booth cannot hold any more historical figures, so Bill and Ted make crude repairs to the machine and program it to return to the present. However, they end up outside the Circle K on the previous night, where Rufus was introducing himself to them. They convince their earlier selves of Rufus's trustworthiness, and the earlier unheard conversation is revealed to be where Rufus is instructing them how to get to the correct day by "dialing a number higher." Furthermore, in the present timeline of San Dimas, Rufus tells Bill and Ted that they have two hours left to do their report; the teens originally thought they had plenty of time, but that was because Ted didn't wind his watch.

When they arrive in the present timeline of San Dimas, Ted learns that Deacon had ditched Napoleon; Deacon said it was because "he [Napoleon] was a dick." They leave the other historical figures at the local mall to learn about San Dimas while they seek out Napoleon at a local water park, "Waterloo". Unattended, the historical figures inadvertently get into trouble and are arrested by Captain Logan. Bill and Ted arrive at the police station and Ted tries to persuade his father to release the historical figures. He refuses, and orders Ted to get ready for his departure to military academy. Bill and Ted execute an escape plan based on using the time machine in the future to set up what they need now, including stealing the police keys in the past to release the historical figures. They are narrowly caught by Captain Logan, but a trash can (also planned by the boys in the future) lands on him, allowing the group to escape. They arrive at school on time to give their presentation, which is a rousing success and allows them to pass the course. They send the historical figures back to their own time periods.

Some time later, Rufus returns to Bill and Ted and presents them with the two princesses before they were committed to pre-arranged marriages, noting that the women will also be part of Wyld Stallyns. Rufus goes on to explain that it was his duty to help the boys because, without each other, life in 2688 would be disastrous; with the Wyld Stallyns' music, however, war and poverty would end, the planets would align in harmony (allowing contact with all forms of life "from extraterrestrials to common household pets"), and "it's excellent for dancing." As a little favor, Rufus asks for their autographs on behalf of his children, gives the boys two new guitars, and plays a little bit rather well. With a new lineup, Bill, Ted, and the princesses play. Listening to the cacophony the band makes, Rufus turns to the audience and says, "They do get better".

Cast[edit]

The Three Supreme Beings of the Future

Production[edit]

The film was shot in the Phoenix, Arizona metropolitan area, mostly in and around Scottsdale's Coronado High School in 1987. Much of Coronado went through a renovation between 2005 and 2007 and the auditorium was torn down; however, the auditorium's intricate exterior mosaic, seen in an opening scene when Bill and Ted leave school in a red Mustang, was saved and moved, piece by piece, to the newly built auditorium, as was the unique roof design. The interior shots of the auditorium were filmed inside the East High School auditorium, which was located in Phoenix on 48th Street and just north of Van Buren. East High School was demolished in 2002 as part of a redevelopment project.

The scenes at Waterloo are a combination of establishing shots at Raging Waters in San Dimas, CA and shots with the actors at Golfland Sunsplash in Mesa, Arizona. The bowling alley was a Fair Lanes branded alley at that time but is now the AMF Tempe Village Lanes on Rural Road at US 60, three miles south of Arizona State University. The mall was Phoenix Metrocenter, between Peoria and Dunlap Avenues at Interstate 17. It has since been renovated and no longer looks as it did in the film. The Circle K store is at the intersection of Southern and Hardy in Tempe.[4][5]

The film's writers, Ed Solomon and Chris Matheson, make appearances in the film during the ice cream scene. Solomon is credited as the "stupid" waiter, and Matheson is credited as the "ugly" waiter. They are given similar credits in Bill and Ted's Bogus Journey.

When Rufus plays his guitar solo, the hands in the close-up are those of Stevie Salas, the composer of all the guitar music in the film.[6]

The film took nearly two years to make. Filming took place from February to May 1987[7] and it was originally planned to be released in 1988. However, the film's original distributor, De Laurentiis Entertainment Group, went bankrupt before it could be released. Orion Pictures and Nelson Entertainment bought the rights to the movie in 1988, and it was released theatrically on February 17, 1989.[8] As a partial result of the delay, certain dates in the film originally scripted as "1987" had to be redubbed as "1988". The copyright date of this film is 1989, while 1988 incorrectly appears on the DVD cover (though some copies still note 1989 as its release date). It was followed in 1991 by a sequel, Bill & Ted's Bogus Journey.

Differences from original script[edit]

In earlier drafts of the script, Rufus was 28 years old and historical figures Bill and Ted plucked from history included Charlemagne (whom they referred to as "Charlie Mangay"), Babe Ruth, and a non-famous medieval person called "John the Serf". John is listed in the credits.[9]

In a 1991 interview, co-writer Ed Solomon said the characters of Bill and Ted were originally envisaged as "14-year-old skinny guys, with low-rider bellbottoms and heavy metal T-shirts" who were despised by the popular kids at school. Casting Reeves and Winter changed the filmmakers' images of the characters because "...once you cast Alex and Keanu, who look like pretty cool guys, that was hard to believe."[10]

Originally, the time machine was to be a 1969 Chevrolet van, but the idea was abandoned as being too close in concept to the DeLorean used in the Back to the Future trilogy. Instead, despite the similarities to Doctor Who '​s time machine, the TARDIS, the film's time machine was styled after a 1960s American telephone booth, though a newer model Ford van would be used as the rock concert "band wagon" for the sequel.

In April 2013, Winter commented on Carlin's casting: "He was a very happy accident. They were going after serious people first. Like Sean Connery. And someone had the idea, way after we started shooting, of George. That whole movie was a happy accident. No one thought it would ever see the light of day."[11]

Soundtrack[edit]

Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)
Soundtrack album (Audio CD/Digital download) by Various artists
Released 1989
Genre Hard rock, heavy metal, glam rock, glam metal, pop rock, rock 'n' roll
Length 40:32
Label A&M Records

The film's soundtrack was released in 1989. The tracks are as follows:

  1. "Play with Me" by Extreme
  2. "The Boys and Girls Are Doing It" by Vital Signs
  3. "Not So Far Away" by Glen Burtnik
  4. "Dancing with a Gypsy" by Tora Tora
  5. "Father Time" by Shark Island
  6. "I Can't Break Away" by Big Pig
  7. "Dangerous" by Shark Island
  8. "Walk Away" by Bricklin
  9. "In Time" by Robbi Robb
  10. "Two Heads Are Better Than One" by Power Tool

These tracks are ordered for the album differently than they are in the movie. In the movie, the songs show up in the following order: "I Can't Break Away", "Dancing with a Gypsy", "Father Time", "Dangerous", "In Time", "Two Heads Are Better Than One", "The Boys and Girls Are Doing It", "Play with Me", "Walk Away", "Not So Far Away" and "Two Heads" (reprised over the credits).

The following songs appeared in the film but were not included in the soundtrack:[citation needed]

  • "No Right to Do Me Wrong" by Range War
  • "Party Up" by Rori
  • "Bad Guitar" by Stevie 'No Wonder' Salas
  • "Carlin's Solo" by Hands of Flutes
  • "Game of War" by Warrant

Related productions[edit]

Sequels[edit]

A theatrical sequel, Bill & Ted's Bogus Journey, was released in 1991.

A third theatrical film in the Bill & Ted franchise was planned, and a screenplay was written, though it never got past the pre-production phase. Although rumors claimed that the script was adapted into the 1996 film Bio-Dome, Alex Winter has said that it was not.[12]

In 2010, Reeves indicated that Matheson and Solomon were working on a script for a third film,[13] confirming in April 2011 that a draft was complete.[14] Winter said in March 2012 that he and Reeves both liked the finished script, which revisits the two characters after the changes of the past twenty years.[15] The current script does not feature the return of the Grim Reaper from Bogus Journey, but since actor William Sadler has expressed interest, the writers are considering ways to include the character.[16] In August 2012, Dean Parisot (director of the sci-fi/comedy film Galaxy Quest) signed on to direct the film, although MGM, which holds the rights to the Bill & Ted franchise, has yet to give the movie an official greenlight.[17] In an April 2014 article on the original film's 25th anniversary, Alex Winter reported that work on going ahead with the second sequel was still in progress.[10]

Television[edit]

Two spin-off television series were produced; both were titled Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventures.

  • Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventures was an animated series that first ran on CBS in 1990, and featured the voices of Carlin, Winter and Reeves returning to their roles in the film. A second season of eight episodes ran on Fox Kids, with the voice cast of Fox's upcoming live-action series.
  • Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventures was a live-action series that ran only seven episodes on Fox in the summer of 1992. It featured none of the cast from the film. Evan Richards and Christopher Kennedy played Bill and Ted.[18]

Comics[edit]

DC Comics produced a tie-in comic following the plot of the first movie timed to coincide with that film's release on home video. [1] The sequel was adapted by DC's competitor Marvel Comics, published to coincide with the second film's release in theaters. Its popularity led to the ongoing Marvel series Bill & Ted's Excellent Comic Book by Evan Dorkin, which lasted for 12 issues. [2]

There was a weekly 2/4 page semi-adaptation of the animated series published for a year by UK's defunct Look-In Magazine from 1991-1992. [3]

Video games[edit]

There were also Game Boy, NES and Atari Lynx games released, which were very loosely based on the film's plot. A PC title and nearly identical Amiga and Commodore 64 port were made in 1991 by Off the Wall Productions and IntraCorp, Inc. under contract by Capstone Software and followed the original film very closely.

Theme parks[edit]

The annual Halloween Horror Nights events at Universal Studios Orlando and Hollywood have featured since 1992 (Orlando) and 1997-1999/2007 (Hollywood) Bill & Ted's Excellent Halloween Adventure, a show satirizing pop culture of the year with Bill & Ted as the protagonists fighting villains who steal their phone booth for their own schemes.

The show differs from year to year, with spoofs of various pop culture icons. The main plot involves Bill and Ted being threatened by an evil villain from a popular film of that year, with appearances by a host of villains, heroes, and celebrities. The show usually includes elaborate dance numbers, stunts, and multiple double-entendres for the late night event crowd.[19][20] In 2013, the Hollywood version of the show was cancelled in the middle of its run following complaints of homophobic humor.[21]

Reception[edit]

Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure was a modest financial success, grossing $40.4 million domestically on a budget of about $10 million.[22] The Washington Post gave the film a negative review, finding the script written by Chris Matheson and Ed Solomon as "made only the sketchiest attempts to draw their historical characters. They exist as foils and nothing else, and the gags that are hung on them are far from first-rate." and that if director "Stephen Herek, has any talent for comedy, it's not visible here. More than anything, the picture looks paltry and undernourished."[23] Variety wrote about each historical figure that Bill & Ted meet, stating that "Each encounter is so brief and utterly cliched that history has little chance to contribute anything to this pic’s two dimensions."[24] Vincent Canby of the New York Times referred to the film as a "painfully inept comedy" and that the "one dimly interesting thing about Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure is the way the two teen-age heroes communicate in superlatives. We are about to fail most egregiously, says Ted to Bill, or maybe it's Bill to Ted. They are also fond of odd words, such as bodacious."[25]

The film has an 79% fresh rating at Rotten Tomatoes, based on 43 reviews with a consensus saying "Keanu Reeves and Alex Winter are just charming, goofy, and silly enough to make this fluffy time-travel Adventure work".[26]

The successes of the film and the animated series spawned a short-lived breakfast cereal called Bill & Ted's Excellent Cereal.[27]

The phone booth used in the film was given away in a contest presented by Nintendo Power magazine, to promote Bill & Ted's Excellent Video Game Adventure. It was won by Kenneth Grayson of Mississippi.[28][29]

In 2010, the city of San Dimas celebrated 50 years of incorporation. The celebration's slogan was San Dimas, 1960-2010 – An Excellent Adventure.[30]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Thompson, Anne (March 16, 1989). "Profiting from youth In search for adult fare, studios overlook a hit". Chicago Tribune. 
  2. ^ Willman, Chris (February 17, 1989). "Adventure, Thy Name Is Not 'Bill & Ted'". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2010-08-22. 
  3. ^ "Untitled Bill & Ted Project (2013)". 
  4. ^ "The 80s Rewind: Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure". Fast-rewind.com. 1991-07-19. Retrieved 2013-10-12. 
  5. ^ "Eighties Movie Locations That Really Exist". In The 80s. Retrieved 2013-10-12. 
  6. ^ Salas interview
  7. ^ "Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure (1989) - Box office / business". 
  8. ^ "Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure (1989) - Trivia". 
  9. ^ "Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure (1989)". Us.imdb.com. Retrieved 2013-10-12. 
  10. ^ a b Freeman, Hadley (17 April 2014). "Bill & Ted's 25th birthday: party on, dudes!". The Guardian. Retrieved 18 April 2014. 
  11. ^ alxwinter (April 26, 2013). "Hey, Alex Winter here from Bill & Ted and Downloaded and noticed a lot of child stars memes today. That's what my next documentary's about. Thought it would be a good day to say hi. Ask me anything!". reddit.com. Retrieved April 27, 2013. 
  12. ^ "Was Bill & Ted 3 Rewritten Into Bio-Dome?". Slashfilm. Retrieved 2010-01-06. 
  13. ^ "Reeve talks new 'Bill and Ted' adventure". 
  14. ^ "'Bill & Ted 3' screenplay actually exists, according to Bill". 
  15. ^ "'Bill & Ted' Sequel: 'There Probably Will Be Another One'". 2012-03-09. Retrieved 2012-03-10. 
  16. ^ "The Grim Reaper Could Return for Bill & Ted 3, Says William Sadler". 2012-04-18. Retrieved 2012-08-17. 
  17. ^ "Bill & Ted 3 Has a Director". 2012-08-13. Retrieved 2012-08-17. 
  18. ^ Herbert, Steven (June 28, 1992). "Bill and Ted Make It to Prime Time, City Doesn't". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2010-08-22. 
  19. ^ Arthur Levine (August 10, 2006). "Universal Orlando is Out for Blood". Archived from the original on 21 November 2006. Retrieved December 10, 2006. 
  20. ^ Teresa Plowright (October 15, 2004). "Halloween Horror at Universal". Retrieved December 10, 2006. 
  21. ^ Couch, Aaron (2013-10-23). "Universal Studios Hollywood Pulls 'Anti-Gay' 'Bill and Ted' Halloween Show". The Hollywood Reporter. 
  22. ^ "Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure (1989)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved November 23, 2009. 
  23. ^ Hinson, Hal (February 17, 1989). "‘Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure’". Washington Post. Retrieved November 5, 2014. 
  24. ^ "Review: ‘Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure’". Variety. Retrieved November 5, 2014. 
  25. ^ Canby, Vincent (February 17, 1989). "Bill and Ted s Excellent Adventure (1989) Reviews/Film; Teen-Agers On a Tour Of History". New York Times. Retrieved November 5, 2014. 
  26. ^ "Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure (1989)". Rotten Tomatoes. Archived from the original on 27 October 2009. Retrieved November 23, 2009. 
  27. ^ "Bill & Ted's Excellent Cereal, Reviewed". X-Entertainment. 16 March 2014. Retrieved 24 October 2012. 
  28. ^ Error Macro (June 2, 2006). "The Saturday Scan - Give It Away Now". Retrieved December 10, 2006. 
  29. ^ Picture of phone booth winner at the Wayback Machine (archived September 28, 2007)
  30. ^ "2. 50th Anniversary Celebration" (PDF). Minutes: City Of San Dimas Council. City of San Dimas. November 15, 2008. Retrieved August 11, 2010. 

External links[edit]