As last week was Back to the Future day, and rightfully so, I’m going to focus my latest article on another time traveling comedy of the 80s that, although not quite as timeless, was almost as fun watching.
Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure.
The amount of time travel flicks released during the decade probably wasn’t much different than any decade (seeing as how they are so incredibly difficult to write), but it’s interesting to me that two well done time travel comedies came out within four years of each other.
However, it is something to note that B&T was supposed to be released in 1987; but, production was complicated when the original financing company, De Laurentiis Entertainment Group, went bankrupt – therefore, they are actually two years apart.
Anyway, on paper, the two movies are thematically the same – a coming of age 80s comedy about time traveling.
In B&T’s case, the story was more simplistic: it was a buddy comedy where two typical 80s rock band/So-Cal Valley seniors in high school, Bill S. Preston, Esq. (Alex Winter) and Ted “Theodore” Logan (Keanu Reeves) traveled through time to get a passing high school grade.
In the background there was a lot of interesting things about these guys – they are destined to be the greatest peace-bringers the world has ever seen with their future guide Rufus (George Carlin) helping them along the way; they learn the knowledge that someday they will write a song that will unite the world; the ticking time bomb involving the premise that if they don’t graduate high school they’ll never be said peace bringers… but in essence, it’s two dudes in a time traveling phone booth (sorry Doctor Who) grabbing historical figures to help them with their big end-of-the-year report.
Here’s the thing about B&T: although it wasn’t as complex as BTTF, it had its own complexities to deal with. With BTTF, they managed to do a pretty good job dealing with a protagonist and the pitfalls of time travel within his own, direct timeline. Logically, these always have plot holes as, well, time travel isn’t really supposed to exist. I’m not going to waste your time pointing them out because it would ruin the great movie and there are dozens of other, more poorly written articles online you can check out yourselves.
B&T however, dealt with figures (Billy the Kid, Socrates, Abraham Lincoln, Genghis Khan, Joan of Arc, Sigmund Freud, and Napoleon) that, although would have altered the future if something happened, we may not have seen a picture of Bill S. Preston Esq. or Ted Theodore Logan slowly fade away…
Therefore, it made it appear as if B&T was more Joe Dante to BTTF’s John Hughes-like qualities.
But if you pay attention, B&T has some really cool time travel moments because it was focused on these two, happy-go-lucky valley boys trying to remember ANYTHING from their history books that would help them in their time travel adventure.
Really, when the future versions of themselves meet the present versions of themselves is pretty amazing – especially when we get to visit the present versions of themselves visit the past versions of themselves and explain it all over again.
For another example, B&T has one of the best time travel moments ever written in cinema: the police station escape scene. Unfortunately, there is no way to link a video as it isn’t released on the usual internet channels. However, it’s a well thought-out, nicely crafted scene where Bill and Ted are helped by future versions of themselves escape jail, but believe me when I say it stuck with me for some time as a wonderful way to play with time travel that also moves the story along.
Regardless, I strongly recommend you check this title out or revisit it if you haven’t seen it in some time. It really is a lot of fun and a great addition to your BTTF-themed party.
Until next time, be excellent to each other. And… PARTY ON, DUDES!