No way?! Yes way! After long 30 years, those bodacious dudes Mr William S Preston, Esq. (Alex Winter) and his best friend Ted ‘Theodore’ Logan (Keanu Reeves) are finally back in cinemas. As Bill And Ted Face The Music is released,, here’s Larushka Ivan-Zadeh’s refresher course on all you need to know about the cult sci-fi comedy franchise.
Bill and Ted are conceived in an improv workshop by UCLA students Ed Solomon and Chris Matheson. ‘One day, we decided to do a couple of guys who knew nothing about history, talking about history’ Solomon told Cinemafantastique, ‘while Ted’s father kept coming up to ask them to turn their music down.’
There was a third guy, called Bob, but Bob dropped out.
Solomon and Matheson write the first script, by hand, in just four days in a coffee shop. Originally called Bill & Ted’s Time Van, it saw two nice but dim teenagers borrow a van (later judged a bit too close to Back To The Future’s DeLorean) and somehow end up in Nazi Germany where they get up to high jinks with Adolf Hitler (later switched to Napoleon as being less ‘problematic’).
Though Bill and Ted were originally conceived as weedy 14-year-olds, the rather older and cooler Alex Winter (fresh off The Lost Boys) and Keanu Reeves (in his breakthrough role) and are cast and the film comes in to time and budget ($8.5m). A most egregious disaster occurs when the distributor files for bankruptcy. However Bill and Ted are saved from the direct-to-DVD dustbin by a small video company called Nelson Entertainment, who snap the movie up for a song and make millions.
Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure is released! [Cue air guitar riff!] It sees two loveable metal heads ‘in danger of flunking most heinously’ (Ted) out of their Californian high school unless they can score A+ final history report. Given they only know Julius Caesar as ‘the salad dressing dude’, failure seems assured. That means Ted will be sent to a military academy and their atrocious rock group, Wyld Stallyns, will be disbanded.
Enter Rufus (the late George Carlin) and his time-travelling phone booth from the year 2688, who tells Bill and Ted that that their philosophy and music will eventually inspire new utopia, but only if Wyld Stallyns stays together.The goofy pair Ping-Pong through time, collecting historical personages like Socrates (pronounced ‘so crates’) and Joan of Arc to ace their project and ensure world peace.
Excellent Adventure is such a hit, it spawns a TV cartoon series, an entire youth slang lexicon and a breakfast cereal which Alex Winter cheerfully admits was ‘disgusting’.
Bill& Ted’s Bogus Journey is released! [Cue air guitar riff!] This bonkers movie sequel adventure cast a reluctant Joss Ackland (who later said he regretted doing it) as a baddie from the future, who dispatches evil robot replicants of Bill and Ted back to the past to kill our heroes. Events take a surreal turn as our heroes challenge Death (William Sadler) to a game of Twister, find the meaning of life in a Poison lyric, finally learn to actually play their guitars and both produce beards and babies. They sign off to us with ‘Be excellent to each other and party on’.
Bill and Ted is spun-off into a videogame, a live action TV series and a comic book. In a case of life imitating art, Keanu Reeves forms an ill-received garage band called Dogstar. Reeves also makes Point Break which, followed up by Speed and The Matrix trilogy, transforms him into one of the biggest stars on the planet. Making Bill and Ted 3 is no longer top of his ‘To Do’ list.
A ‘sad Keanu’ meme, of Reeves looking sad, circulates online. As if to cheer him up, a first draft of Bill and Ted 3 is created. Hollywood, however, doesn’t want it. Alex Winter directs the kids TV cartoon series Ben 10, then turns his hand to feature documentaries.
The script is still locked in bogus development hell. The studios want to reboot the franchise with a younger cast, but writer Ed Solomon tells Digital Spy that ‘We love these characters, they’ve been with us for our whole lives and we wanted to visit them again as middle-aged men. We thought it would be really fun, and funny, and sweet.’
Bill & Ted Face The Music is released! [cue air guitar riff!] It sees a now middle-aged and married (not to each other) Bill and Ted settled in the suburbs, but yet to fulfil their rock and roll destiny. With time ticking, they must write the best song ever to save life as we know it. This time they’re helped by their own teenage daughters (Samara Weaving and Brigette Lundy-Paine). Released in the UK this Friday, it has enjoyed most excellent reviews in the US, with a 81% ‘fresh’ score on Rotten Tomatoes. A Bill & Ted 4 is already being rumoured. Catch you later, Bill and Ted!
5 new faces in Bill & Ted 3
Kid Cudi as himself
The US rapper shows another side of himself (as himself) as the movie’s go-to expert regarding epistemological reality and quantum looping.
Holland Taylor as The Great Leader
The Emmy-winning TV veteran (Two And A Half Men, Hollywood) camps it up in a glittery cape as the most powerful person in the universe.
Kristen Schaal as Kelly
In a tribute to the late George Carlin, who played Bill and Ted’s kindly guide, Rufus, Schaal’s character is named after his daughter, Kelly Carlin.
Brigette Lundy-Paine as Wilhelmina ‘Billie’ Logan
A most excellent turn as ‘Little Bill’ (ie the daughter of Keanu Reeves’ character) should prove a breakout role for this non-binary rising star.
Samara Weaving as Theodora ‘Thea’ Preston
She may portray Bill’s daughter but the real life niece of Hugo ‘Elrond’ Weaving looks more like Margot Robbie’s cousin, don’t you think?
Bill & Ted Face The Music is out now.
Credit: Original article published here.