Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure Blu-ray Review
San Dimas in 2688 is a better time, a better place–the dirt is clean, mini-golf scores are down and there is a waterpark on every corner. And it’ll stay a paradise if best bodacious buds and bandmates Bill (Alex Winter, forever Bill and proud of it) and Ted (Keanu Reeves, forever labeled a bimbo because of Ted) can keep it that way. The pair needs to get an A+ on their oral report to pass their history class, which they’re failing because they think Joan of Arc was Noah’s wife and that Caesar is “a salad dressing dude.” If they prove to be the flunks they dress as and talk like, Ted will be shipped off to military school and the future will be forever altered. Imagine, if you will, a world without the garage band The Wyld Stallyns, and you get the idea of what’s at stake.
Enter Rufus (George Carlin), who’s sent from 700 years in the future to ensure the boys pass. How? By going back in time through a phone booth, which makes plenty of sense if you believe Clark Kent can use one to transform into Superman. And what better way to pass a class than by kidnapping a collection of historical figures? Read a book? Stay awake during class? They meet “famous French dude” Napoleon Bonaparte (Terry Camilleri) in 1805, outlaw Billy the Kid (Dan Shor) in 1879, philosopher Socrates (Tony Steedman) in Ancient Greece, psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud in 1901, composer Ludwig van Beethoven in 1810, martyr Joan of Arc in 1429, Mongol leader Genghis Khan in 1209, president Abraham Lincoln in 1863. It’s a nice selection, but the boys may have found Lady Godiva to be a welcome addition.
Don’t expect a history lesson here–all of the figures are caricatures, simplified creations with no traits or costumes other than what you find in cheap textbooks. But that’s fine and expected from BILL & TED’S EXCELLENT ADVENTURE, a movie that goes for its biggest laughs by showing Genghis Khan cleaning a toilet and Lincoln ironing a shirt. It’s all so juvenile, with co-writers Chris Matheson and Ed Solomon (who, two years later, wrote BILL & TED’S BOGUS JOURNEY, which saw the duo squaring off against Death himself) going out of their way to give us lines like, “You killed Ted, you medieval dickweed!” and to let Lincoln end a revamped Gettysburg Address with, “Party on, dudes!”
After you watch BILL & TED’S EXCELLENT ADVENTURE, you won’t better understand Napoleon’s motives or get a deeper meaning of Socrates’ wisdom. But you will know the significance of the air guitar solo to the American slacker and that San Dimas High School football does indeed rule. Almost 25 years after its release, Stephen Herek’s sophomore feature (after 1986’s CRITTERS) is exactly as you remember it—dimwitted, dumb and brain-dead. Not once does it take itself seriously. And that’s part of what makes it so fun today, a mere 676 years before we’ll be forced to bow down to the two Great Ones.
Video: 2.35:1 in 1080p with MPEG-4 AVC codec. Overall, BILL & TED’S EXCELLENT ADVENTURE looks pretty good on Blu-ray. Although there is a decent amount of grain and many of the night scenes lack depth, the transfer is a respectable one that shows fresh color and many details.
Audio: English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1; Spanish Dolby Digital 1.0. While the dialogue is clean and clear, it’s the music (the Wyld Stallyns jam sessions) and sounds effects (namely those in the scenes of actual time travel) that are the highlight of this transfer.
The Original Bill & Ted: In Conversation with Chris & Ed (20:13): Screenwriters and friends Chris Matheson and Ed Solomon sit down to discuss how BILL & TED’S EXCELLENT ADVENTURE turned from a silly idea between buddies into a major motion picture.
Air Guitar Tutorial with Bjorn Turoque & the Rockness Monster (13:14): If this disc needed one special feature, it was this one. Here, professional air guitarists (that’s right) share their influences and techniques.
One Sweet and Sour Chinese Adventure to Go (23:07): This season one episode of the BILL & TED’S EXCELLENT ADVENTURE animated series finds Bill & Ted traveling to ancient China to replace an antique vase.