The essential kindness of Bill and Ted

For a long time, I had Bill and Ted mixed up in my head with the guys from Dumb and Dumber, who never really appealed to me. That may explain why I had not participated in the former duo’s excellent adventure nor their bogus journey until earlier this summer.

But in June, faced with the impending release date of the third installment in the trilogy, Bill & Ted Face the Music — three decades after the originals — I queued up the 1989 film that started it all.

And to my great joy, I loved it. It’s so charmingly weird, emitting hormonal teenage boy stoner flick vibes while somehow remaining as pure as the driven snow. It is about two best friends (played by baby Keanu Reeves and Alex Winter, who remain BFFs to this day), joined at the hip and devoted to their terrible band Wyld Stallyns. Inside of an hour and a half, they discover they are key to the fate of humanity, embark on a wild time-traveling ride facilitated by George Carlin and a beat-up telephone booth, try to pass a high school history presentation by collecting historical figures from the past (in the aforementioned telephone booth, of course) and bringing them to the present, and find out that they are destined to someday write the song that will unite the world and bring peace to the universe.

Bill and Ted play air guitar to celebrate their tiny victories. They giggle over the number 69. They have oddly expansive vocabularies and eminently quotable catchphrases, one of which — “Be Excellent to Each Other” — was posted on the marquee on my local movie theater when the pandemic shut it down in March. I see it each time I go out for a run.

Bill, Ted, and the Grim Reaper in Bill and Ted Face the Music.
You knew Death would be back.
MGM

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