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  • Writer's pictureShannon Heibler

Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure (1989)

I didn't grow up with this movie. I remember catching snippets of it on TV but it never grabbed my attention enough to sit and watch it. I watched it finally in college because my friends really loved it. I loved it too but mostly I thought it was fun because they were dumb and that was funny. But watching it tonight I saw it in a whole new most excellent light.

This movie is so sweet and earnest and sincere and, you guessed it!, WEIRD. But mostly it's sweet. Just the most well meaning little story. They really said, "Imagine a future that is PERFECT and that is 100% because of the music of two kind hearted idiots. They changed the world and we need to make sure they PASS HIGH SCHOOL HISTORY to do it." And then they got George Carlin and Hollywood's two least cancellable actors, Alex Winter and Keanu Reeves, shoved them in a phone booth and made a movie that stole my heart wholesale.

Full disclosure: I was a little nervous about watching this because my ex-husband and I loved this movie together and even put "be excellent to each other" in our wedding vows.I haven't watched this movie since he and I were together. And I wasn't sure what that would dredge up. You know what? Nothing. This movie is so pure and good I didn't think about my horrible horrible marriage once during it. So hoo-ray! Unadulterated movie goodness!

The friendship of Bill S. Preston, Esquire and Ted "Theodore" Logan is so wonderful. The musicality of their dialogue is a terrific way of underscoring that together, they will get shit sorted. They maybe cannot play their instruments (and the movie is so good about not judging that, it's just a fact that they don't yet know how to play), but there is rhythm and harmony inherent in their communication. They mirror meter, they speak in unison, they punctuate their statements with physicality. I would LOVE a book on the making of these films. I adore that the movie touches on the adults in their lives and the wide range of support they receive. Bill's Dad, nothing. Missy, oof. Ted's Dad, too much structure. And a history teacher who very sincerely wants them to succeed. He's not a horrible stereotype of "adults just don't understand." He's really trying to make sure that they have a future, and without knowing it, that humanity has a future. And in spite of all this confusing influence, Bill and Ted want to be better than they are and when pressed to say something, anything, they choose to ask others to be better too. And have fun! UGH I LOVE THEM!

I am also enamored of the friendship between Billy the Kid and Socrates (pronounced SO-CRATES). I never fully appreciated the two of them trying to pick up mall rats at the corn dog stand before. It's a thing of beauty. It will last forever.

I miss the fuck out of George Carlin and his voice in this stupid world. I miss him more for having been willing to do this strange little flick.

Something that really landed with me tonight was the scene in which Bill and Ted end up in the future, in the society they are responsible for. They, in that moment, crib their catchphrases that shape the world for the better and those people in that room get to be present for it. Imagine that your god, essentially, showed up in your living room and was warm, kind, and said exactly what you imagined they'd say. What an incredibly gratifying experience. No wonder Bill and Ted brought about perfect harmony.

I hope I never stop laughing at "Bob Genghis Kahn."

Digital. Unfinished.


-This is tough. I should have taken this one off way back when because we were heading off to Ireland. I thought for sure I could do a whole alphabet - The ABCs of Bill and Ted - on my tablet during the trip. I got this far. I thought for sure in the subsequent six months I would find time for it. At least finish Bill. Maybe Ted. Alas. And the longer I put it off, the harder it became to pick it back up. And that's exactly why I have the one week "rule" for this game I've made for myself. It gets so easy to get overwhelmed by unfinished projects, by good creative intentions. It's so easy to be crushed by disappointment in one's self. God I'm distraught writing this and admitting defeat but it's time. It's past time. Tonight I will be watching my 100th movie for the project (!!!!!!!!) and the shame I've felt seeing this blank space on the spreadsheet is greater than just accepting I fell short. One in 100 isn't so bad.

-And hey, maybe I'll pick it back up and conquer it for Bogus Journey when it comes up.

-I wrote 26 rhyming couplets for this, so it could be a children's book (you know, easily accomplished in a week on vacation abroad) and I really hope I get to share them some day.

I hope the next week is full of the kind of wonder that distracts you from your to do list. I hope you forgive yourself for that distraction.

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