Friday, June 12, 2015

Mock Squid Soup: Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure

MOCK! and The Armchair Squid are proud to welcome you to Mock Squid Soup: A Film Society, meetings on the second Friday of each month.  Last week, society members posted three clues as to their chosen film for the month.  Today is the big reveal.  A reminder on my clues:

- This late 1980s film includes footage from a mid 1950s epic.

- This surprise hit was the breakout movie for a Hollywood A-lister.  While he has played a wide variety of roles over the years since, he never quite managed to shake his original image of lovable idiot.

- One of standup comedy's all-time greats performs a guru/narrator role.

Drum roll, please...

Title: Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure
Director: Stephen Herek
Original Release: 1989
My Overall Rating: 4 stars out of 5
via Wikipedia
When people talk about the great teen movies of the 1980s, it's easy to forget about Bill and Ted.   I went to see it with friends on its opening weekend, not really expecting much beyond mindless amusement.  What we found instead was a clever, energetic and memorable film.

Ted "Theodore" Logan (Keanu Reeves) and Bill S. Preston, Esq. (Alex Winter) are teenage slackers with dreams of rock stardom.  They don't know yet that their music will one day provide a basis for a more enlightened human society.  But Rufus knows.  Rufus, a sort of anti-Terminator played by George Carlin, is sent from the future to save the boys from themselves.  If they fail their history project, Ted will be sent away to military school, their garage band will never happen and the future will not be excellent.  Rufus supplies Bill and Ted with a phone booth TARDIS...er...time machine.   The boys set to work abducting the likes of Napoleon, Socrates and Beethoven and bring them back to modern day San Dimas, California.  My favorite scene is when all goes wrong at the shopping mall, especially Genghis Khan totally ravaging Oshman's Sporting Goods.  

Bill and Ted is just the sort of high concept film that usually starts strong, gradually loses energy, then dies pathetically at the end.  Not so here.  Somehow, this one works.  The dialogue is sharp and witty.  The acting makes up in enthusiasm what it lacks in subtlety.  The story, while admittedly absurd, holds together for all 90 minutes.  A movie that probably never should have seen the light of day pulled in $40 million, spawning a sequel, two TV series and even, briefly, a breakfast cereal.

Getting back to the clues, Reeves is the actor and Carlin the comedian.  The first clue, I admit, is a bit more obscure.  When Bill and Ted stumble upon Napoleon, we see battle footage from 1956's War and Peace, directed by King Vidor.

Next meeting is Friday, July 10th.  I'll post July's blog list tomorrow.  For July, pick another society member's choice from our ever increasing library to review.  Today, please visit my fellow cinephiles, listed below:


24 comments:

  1. Great review, Squidamus Maximus.

    I love a smart film. I love a deep, emotional film. Check off supernatural, foreign, independent, too. In spite of all those preconceived notions, I loved Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure from the get-go.

    It's hard to imagine this film laid out on paper, looking for backers. The performances and the actors chosen really made this flick. Keanu Reeves will always be Ted, in my mind. Ted on a bus with Sandra Bullock, Ted in the Matrix, Ted opposite Al Pacino's Satanic corporate execute....it's all Ted.

    Great choice!

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    1. As you suggest, there's a long list of reasons why Bill & Ted shouldn't be a good movie and yet it is. For us, house hunting was the same way. The one we chose didn't meet any of our original criteria yet it was perfect.

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  2. Another movie I missed, but as the 80s dawned, my teen years were fading from memory I was pushing 23

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    1. I understand. I'm well past 23 and teen movies haven't been worth much to me for a long time. Bill & Ted, however, transcends the genre.

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  3. You know, I never gave this movie a chance because it looked so stupid but now, with your review, I am intrigued. It also has George Carlin who is one of my favourite comedians.

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  4. This movie is brilliant. Like you said, it could have been a one-joke movie, but the characters are so strong and likeable that every interaction is hilarious. The sequel works too and I wonder if the third one will be as strong. Great choice

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    1. I don't feel the same affection for the sequel but I'm highly intrigued by the prospect of a new one.

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  5. Oh My God... like gag me with a spoon !
    I loved this film. What a hoot.
    Most excellent !
    And no matter, Keanu will always be Ted in my brain. But he did do a most excellent try in "Speed" !

    Dude most excellent review. . . . air guitar riff........
    cheers, parsnip

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  6. I saw this in the '80s when I was a kid and would love to see it again. It was great fun.

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    1. Whether or not it's a great movie is a worthy discussion but there's no denying it's loads of fun.

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  7. One of the best time travel movies ever! Remember when they needed the car keys, and they decided that, after they passed their final, they'd use the time machine to go back and steal the keys and leave them ... HERE! Thinking outside the box because you're too stupid to realize there IS a box is still thinking outside the box! Dude!

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    1. The movie definitely earns its time travel cred during the police station sequence.

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  8. We love that movie, but it's the second one that has our most quoted line from the two.

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    1. To be honest, I'm not sure I've ever managed to stay awake through the second one.

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    2. I don't know how to respond to that.

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    3. It's just never held quite the same charm for me.

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    4. It's not as good, but there are some good moments in it. Including "Aim for the cat," which is said frequently, here.

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    5. Perhaps I'll give it another try sometime.

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  9. I thoroughly enjoyed your assessment of this film. I loved Bill and Ted when I first saw it, considering I didn't want to see it (not by myself). Not too many black kids were rushing to see movies about dudes and time travel, but luckily this movie helped change that. As much as I liked this movie, I don't think I've ever seen the second one and didn't know about the TV shows.
    Great choice.

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    1. I've never seen the shows, either, or eaten the cereal.

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  10. I loved how the righteous babes became part of the band. When my kids get unruly these days I'm: "Be excellent to each other," which brings a chuckle.

    We've shown this as sleepover parties for years now. (This and SPACE QUEST, trying to build a small but might cult following for that one!) The kids always love it.
    V:)

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    1. Space quest... Do you mean Galaxy Quest?

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