Fun-loving, guitar-playing, history-flunking airheads Theodore “Ted” Logan and Bill S. Preston, Esquire, first came on the scene in 1989’s Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure. A time-tripping romp, the movie had the appearance of a teen comedy, but its silly humour and good-natured charm won over kids of all ages.
San Dimas, California, residents Bill and Ted live a relatively happy life (ignorance is bliss, after all), but their dreams of garage band glory are threatened by the fact that they are, like, going to fail history, which is most heinous, as Ted will be sent to military school in Alaska by his dad (a hard-nosed cop).
This will split up their band, the Wyld Stallyns, which is a shame as in the future their music will precipitate meaningful communication between all life forms, and form the foundation of a peaceful, prosperous civilisation. If this seems unlikely, it’s even more so when you see what Bill and Ted are like!
But a surprise visitor just might have the miracle they need . . .
Rufus, a dude, comes from the future in a time machine (shaped like a phone box) to help them to travel back in history and complete their history project, on what historical persons would think of San Dimas in 1988.
Rufus loans them the phone booth, and they’re off to do a little hands-on research. Soon, however, they hit upon an even more ingenious solution: they decide to “borrow” a few famous faces from the past to liven up their presentation.
After several nearly disastrous stops, the phone booth is packed with everyone from Genghis Khan to Joan of Arc (who they think is Noah’s wife), to Socrates (“So Crates”) to Abraham Lincoln.
Everything points to an easy A, but modern-day San Dimas is no place for a gaggle of historical luminaries. Before you can say “Bogus!” the gang is in a heap of trouble with the law, right before the big report.
Napoleon develops a complex about losing at bowling, Joan of Arc discovers a taste for aerobics, Freud wields a sausage-on-a-stick while hitting on two poodle-permed girls, Lincoln indulges in self-portraiture, and Beethoven discovers prog rock . . .
Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure wasn’t exactly highbrow entertainment, but nobody seemed to care.
The sight of Napoleon terrorising a local water park and Genghis Khan skateboarding through a sporting goods store with a hockey stick for a club more than made up for any lack of educational content. Before long, wannabe Bills and Teds were spouting off “Excellent” and “Bogus” and playing air guitar wherever they went.
Made on a small budget, Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure was a clear hit, helping propel Keanu Reeves (Ted) and Alex Winter (Bill) to stardom.
The underachieving twosome returned to the big screen two years later for Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey (1991), and the excellent adventures continued in both a Saturday morning cartoon and a prime-time series.
The number that Rufus dials to take Bill and Ted to Austria in 1805 is 1-323-459-4303. The footage for Napoleon’s battle in Austria (presumably Austerlitz) was taken from the movie War and Peace (1956)
Bill S. Preston
Billy the Kid
Joan of Arc
Robert V. Barron
Hal Landon Jr.
J. Patrick McNamara
Traci Dawn Davis
John the Serf