Be excellent to each other.
Five simple words uttered by Bill S. Preston Esquire (Alex Winter) in front of the future council of a utopian society in Excellent Adventure have held together nearly 30 years later. As fans gear up for the release of Bill & Ted Face the Music only three short days away, no doubt fans of the franchise are using the time to rewatch the films that started it all as a refresher or to simply reminisce (I know I am!)
What started as an improv sketch between writers Ed Solomon and Chris Matheson in college prompted an entire generation of people that could relate to the duo in one way or another. In every friend group, there is a Bill, a charming, simple charismatic friend (who is borderline a genius), and a Ted, a silly romancer who swiftly walks through life with rose-colored glasses. Despite their differences, they bring something to the film that is so uniquely them, that Winter and Reeves embody in a way that would almost make one think they’ve known each other their entire lives. Excellent Adventure first graced theaters in 1989. With Winter and Keanu Reeves in the main roles, it’s now hard to see why it sat on the shelf for as long as it did and was in jeopardy of never seeing the light of day in the first place. The genuine chemistry between the two on-screen makes not only for good acting and screen time, but it also gives the fans someone to relate to.
Part of what made Excellent Adventure such a big hit was George Carlin and his character, Rufus. Rufus was an emissary sent from the future to inform both Bill and Ted that their destiny is to create the most excellent song that would save the world. And, of course, they get to breeze through the circuits of time to collect the most notable historical figures to help them ace their oral history report.
When Bogus Journey rolled around in 1991, the success of the first movie had already spawned comics, games, action figures, the most iconic one-liners, and, of course, the highly anticipated “sequel” to Excellent Adventure. Bogus Journey was nothing like its predecessor, though — introducing new storylines, as easily as they can be connected, that can also be their own standalone films. Bill and Ted’s legacy is an important one, as it also aided in the beginnings of all those who followed. Bogus Journey saw the duo get their lives taken over by their robotic counterparts, team up with death to get out of Hell and back to the land of the living to claim their rightfully earned spot as the superior Bill and Ted and the winners of the San Dimas Battle of the Bands as the Wyld Stallyns.
Also, it’s worth noting that although you can’t cheat death, death can certainly cheat you, as was proven in Bogus Journey when the duo had to play him in various games in order to have him at their service. William Sadler is a fantastic sport about it, even having the rap to end everyone’s careers: “You might be a King or a little street sweeper, but sooner or later, you’ll dance with The Reaper.”
Now, nearly 30 years later, Reeves and Winter are back to reprise their roles as the iconic, witty, and carefree dynamic duo. Although they have clearly aged, one thing has remained the same: their dedication to the franchise and their fans. The film has been a long time in the making. If nearly failing history, being sent to military school, evil robots and death can’t even stop Bill and Ted … neither will a pandemic.
While the films are not meant to be taken seriously, just as lighthearted comedies that these days the world is lacking, they have cultivated a multitude of fans all around the world. The fans are dedicated and passionate ones that live out the mantra “be excellent to each other” each and every day. In a time where escapism is needed more than ever, Bill and Ted have definitely proven that they can and have stood the test of time.
Bill & Ted Face the Music is in select theaters and on demand this Friday.