Viking Night: Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure
By Bruce Hall
August 27, 2013
How’s this for a pitch - a pair of slackers travel back in time to seek Abraham Lincoln's help graduating high school?
Sure, there's more to it than that - or less - depending on your point of view. But know now that Bill and Ted has the kind of premise where you’re either in or you’re out. You can either accept what I just said, or you can’t. And if you can’t, there’s no reason for you to be watching. Now that we understand each other, I guess I should warn you about something else. If you’re not old enough to know what a phone booth is, you've never worn a wristwatch and you’ve never seen a compact disc before, you might have a little trouble with some of the basic concepts we’re about to cover. So are you ready?
Bill S. Preston (Alex Winter) and Ted Theodore Logan (Keanu Reeves) are best friends who are on the verge of flunking out of San Dimas High School. They aren’t in the habit of studying, choosing instead to sharpen their Jeff Spicoli surfer slang and hang out in Bill’s garage, fumbling around with a pair of guitars. The two talentless teens imagine themselves one day bathed in riches, and dominating the world with their imaginary rock band, "Wild Stallyns" (pronounced “stallions”, spelled like the rantings of a head injury patient). Judging by the quality of the gear in his garage, Bill is trust fund kid. He’s also an affable meathead who shares a boundary-free household with his dad - a middle aged lothario - and his trophy wife. Ted lives alone with his own, far more demanding father, who also happens to be the local police chief. When boys' teacher informs them they have 24 hours to ace their final exam or miss graduation, Ted glumly prepares to spend the next four years in military school, while Bill gears up for a future pumping gas at the Circle K.
And then George Carlin shows up from 700 years in the future with a magic phone booth, and a chance for southern California's most prolific underachievers to redeem themselves. More specifically, a mysterious and stylish time traveler named Rufus (Carlin) reveals to Bill and Ted that their band is destined to be a success, and that their music will one day transform society. Their sick beats will one day become the basis of society. Their tasty guitar solos will eventually eliminate hunger, war, disease, and possibly even bad breath. But if they don't pass their history exam, this glorious future will never exist. So using Rufus' time machine - the ersatz phone box - our two titular teens begin a freewheeling, far-fetched fandango into the past to kidnap as many historical figures as they can. The plan is to bring them back to the present, impress their history teacher, and then send everyone back where they came from. It’s all as easy as sharing an ice cream Sunday with Napoleon.