Man. I needed this.
It’s been a rough semester for me – one with many assignments and not a lot of time to relax. Fortunately, I was able to squeeze a little bit of time in for a fun movie during my meals, so I decided to watch one of the great ’80s stupid comedies: Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure. I’m so, so, so glad I did, because it’s just my kind of film, and it’s a wonderful piece of silly, mindless fun.
It has the visuals I like (particularly the theatrical blues that appear in the future scenes), the character types I like (specifically the all-knowing, nonchalant comic who talks to the camera, here played by the great George Carlin), and the theory of time-travel that I prefer (I guess that’s one point it takes over Back to the Future).
That being said, similar Hollywood comedies from approximately this era (Back to the Future, Wayne’s World) have a much “tighter” story. Each scene feels like it has a clear, strong purpose in those films, and there’s a sense that each was re-written many times until everything flowed perfectly. In this film, it feels like the screenplay was thrown together very quickly – which is true: the first draft was written in four days – so the story feels a little laggy and some of the jokes don’t have a very strong punch. I found myself wondering, why Socrates? What makes him one of the most interesting figures to plop into our century? Why Billy the Kid?
I think the scenes with Joan of Arc work better though. The way she always gets what she prays for without any understanding of what’s really going on is hilarious. I think her scenes must work because we completely understand what’s going on in her head and how that logic seems to match, yet clash with, everything happening around her. It’s the kind of comedy that plays with individual perspectives and human blind-spots well, which is really all the rest of the movie needed to be a bit funnier.
This, however, is nit-picking. Bill & Ted loves its own absurdity and stupidity so much that I’m inclined to love it, too. It really is, in a word, excellent.