When you stop to take it in, the plot outline for Bill And Ted’s Excellent Adventure makes for some obscure reading.
It involves a pair of educationally averse metalheads who travel through time in order to pass high-school history and ensure their band can go on to revolutionise humanity as we know it.
It’s a bit of a tough sell, so it’s lucky the finished article was executed to perfection.
Created and written by friends Ed Solomon and Chris Matheson, and starring Keanu Reeves and Alex Winter, the titular characters are a pair of loveable slackers desperate to make it to the big time with their band.
With their boundless optimism and endearing enthusiasm, it’s impossible not to root for them every step of the way.
Unashamedly fun and with just the right amount of both silliness and heart, it’s a story of friendship and adventure that doesn’t take itself seriously.
Don’t worry too much about the uneven rules of time travel on display, just sit back, pick up your air guitar and enjoy the ride.
Here are the 12 moments that made Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure truly excellent:
1. Rufus’s introduction
Legendary alternative comedian George Carlin was perhaps an unexpected addition to the cast of a mainstream family adventure movie, but his turn as cool-as-ice spirit guide Rufus is most welcome.
The movie begins with Rufus offering us a valuable introduction as to what is about to unfold:
2. Wyld Stallyns
We’re told that the reason Rufus must go back and ensure Bill S. Preston, Esq. and Ted ‘Theodore’ Logan don’t flunk out of school is due to the crucial role their band will play in the future of humanity.
Our first glimpse of Wyld Stallyns suggests that this development is still some way off yet:
3. Bill and Ted in school
One of the film’s most memorable scenes takes place in the school classroom and provides us with a telling glimpse of exactly why the duo are in danger of failing their history class so badly.
Their disinterest in the class and their chronic lack of knowledge is clear from the outset.
Julius Caesar being ‘the salad dressing dude’ is a particular highlight.
4. ‘Strange things are afoot at the Circle K’
This glorious scene sees our heroes learning of the task that awaits them and also sets up a wonderful call-back for later in the movie.
To this day I don’t fully understand the issue with Ted’s watch, but I can watch him and Bill air guitar with their future selves all day long:
5. Meeting Billy The Kid
The duo’s first stop is the old Wild West where they meet their first target, Billy The Kid.
My favourite part of this sequence is Bill’s less-than-convincing take on the art of the poker face.
Their next stop is Ancient Greece to pick up the celebrated thinker Socrates (So-crates).
It’s a true meeting of minds when our intrepid adventurers seek to converse with one of history’s finest philosophers.
Dust… wind… dude.
7. Vision of the future
After a sojourn into Medieval England to meet the Princess babes, there is then a bizarre sequence where the Stallyns arrive in a strange ethereal chamber in the Utopian future.
They are greeted by three supreme beings (one of whom is the E Street Band’s Clarence Clemons) as well as a hoard of adoring worshippers.
Granted, this section is a touch on the cheesy side, and who knew that air-guitar would go on to become such a powerful communication tool in the future.
8. Havoc at the mall
Once they have assembled their full band of historical personages, Bill and Ted foolishly decide to leave them all at a mall while they leave to rescue Napoleon.
In their absence, the gang wreak havoc, with my personal highlights being Beethoven’s keyboard solo, and Freud ruining Socrates and Billy’s chances with the ladies.
9. Napoleon at Waterloo
One of the movie’s unsung heroes is Terry Camilleri as Napoleon Bonaparte.
Camilleri almost steals the show during several brilliant scenes, including when we get to see him having the absolute time of his life at Waterloo, the most excellent San Dimas water park.
Incidentally, it took me longer than I care to admit to catch on to the relevance of the water park’s name.
10. ‘San Dimas high-school football rules!’
Eventually, the boys make it back to school just in time to deliver their decisive final report.
Before they take their turn however, a resident jock makes his own extremely pertinent point.
11. History lesson
The Stallyns blow the audience away with their glorious montage of historical interaction, which includes sword-fights, psychology, classical music and a few all-important words of wisdom from Honest Abe himself:
12. Jam session
The movie concludes with Bill and Ted reflecting on their adventure before Rufus arrives with two final special surprises.
Firstly he has rescued the two Princesses, with whom Bill and Ted formed an extremely close bond in what was seemingly a very short space of time.
Secondly, Rufus provides them with two of the tiniest and most 80s-looking guitars of all time.
The foursome then engage in one final horrific jam session together, and the movie ends with Rufus breaking the fourth wall and assuring us all: ‘They do get better.’