Thursday, May 23, 2019

A Most Egregious Omission

Last fall when I went on yet another of my “Movies that define me” obsession filled rants I referred to the Bill and Ted franchise only as an aside:

“Yes, I am a fan of the Bill and Ted films.  While they are very enjoyable, and do a spectacular job of Time Travel in a fixed time stream consistency, they don't quite reach "impact" level.”

Clearly the only reason I made that statement, was it had been far too long since I saw those most excellent (*air guitar!*) movies.

Watching them both recently, along with all the outrageous Shout factory interviews and commentaries brought a bunch of cool stuff back into my memory, as well as some bodacious new facts.  Here's a top ten combination of them in no particular order:

A)  There’s a bunch of stuff I say all the time that I believed came simply from growing up in the Eighties, which were instead direct quotes from this film. They infused them into that portion of my life, not the other way around.  It's odd I forgot that, as where else would frequent use of the word "us-es" come from?

B) It’s not just the quotes that came from this film, but their overall accent and mannerisms. The creation of the Bill and Ted voices came from an improv bit the writers did, and a blend of several different areas with a specific attitude.  Therefore, the frequent times I take on “Eighties tone” I'm probably aping this film.

C) My memory was correct; these are still the movies with the most internally consistent theory of time travel I’ve ever seen. It's a fantastic representation of a single linear timestream. There’s probably some deep meaning about a story and characters completely rooted in independence of thought being tied to a theory of time travel that is practically predestination. No one changes the timestream; they take their roles in it as already established by history when they travel.

D) Keanu Reeves and Alex Winter became friends during the audition process well before they knew they’d be cast together. Out of all the 2016 interviews on the Shout release, they did all of theirs together. You can’t fake that kind of chemistry.  Once again, I'm much more of a fan of a story focusing on a true friendship than a romance, leaving the gate open for some "Frood-dude" type psychoanalysis no doubt.

E) I did remember where it came from, but “Strange Things are Afoot at the Circle K” is a phrase that remains heavily in my rotation of use to this day. That is especially true when we travel west of the Mississippi where this chain actually exists.  (Not that it's reduced when I'm home all that much.)  It was awesome to see the source on screen again.

F) The “Bogus Journey” is rare for this setting and time period by being a sequel that is not a rehash.  They did an excellent (*air guitar!*) job of creating a very different film.  It’s darker and weirder, travelling into new territory, yet continuing the main characters' journeys and introducing new enemies and allies that stand up to any role in the first film.  (Thrilled to hear the break out Bill Sadler is returning as The Reaper)

G) Unlike the main characters of many other teen slacker films of the decade, Bill and Ted are not idiots. Yes, they’re completely unmotivated and unfocused. However, they’re shown to have an instinctive grasp for the intricacies of traveling along the single timestream, interact positively and communicate with non-English speaking geniuses throughout history, and learn valuable information about all of them in only a couple of hours.  Ted’s instant connection to So-crates and Bill’s advanced (if oddly placed) vocabulary showed they do have highly prolific, if unusual minds.

H) Also different than even usual "good guys" intelligent high school and college students in Eighties films, they’re excessively innocent and nice guys.  They treat just about every one they meet with massive kindness and enthusiasm for whatever interests them.  This is a big part of the reason they gain allies from the greatest minds of history, and in other physical planes as well.

I) The kindness and openness is summed up in the final message from each movie. The first, most famous, and what they’re immortalized for in the future based on them, is a positive side of the “Golden Rule” –

“Be Excellent to Each other, And Party On, Dudes!”

The second film’s ending, while a little more forced, may have been a more profound message. The fact that they delivered it together, cements the power of their friendship and the proof that they're really one mind in two bodies.

Bill- “Ladies and gentleman, we've been to the past, we've been to the future.”
Ted- “We've been all around the afterlife.”
Bill- “And you know?”
Ted- “The best place to be is here...”
Bill- “...And the best time to be is now, 
and all's we can say is...”
Bill and Ted- “...Let's rock!”

J)  "STATION!!!!"

I can't believe I forgot why I blurt that out from time to time.  I'm sure it confused my daughter more than most bizarre references I make without context.

In conclusion:

Apologies to Bill S. Preston Esquire, and Ted “Theodore” Logan, as well as the creative forces who brought them into being.  Thanks for shaping a chunk of my developing personality, expanding my interest in the manipulation of a non-spatial fourth dimension (used for two separate Advanced Mathematics final projects) and a most non-non-non-heinous method of communication.

Looking forward to the long awaited Bill and Ted 3 in 2020,

Catch you later, dudes!


Saucy Pizza said...

I suppose I should watch these.

Jeff McGinley said...

Most assuredly. I left out one of the coolest parts: George Carlin as Rufus, their guide from the future.