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The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
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What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure is about two Southern California teens (Alex Winter and Keanu Reeves) who have little respect for authority and actively disobey their parents. But the tone is very lighthearted, and the characters seem to have the best intentions ("be excellent to each other") during their adventures through time. Expect some comic violence; appropriately, the Dark Ages is where the duo encounters the most life-threatening -- but still comic -- situations. On the iffier side, girls are treated as sex objects to the point that mentor/guide Rufus (George Carlin) "gives" the boys two girls they met in Medieval England as a reward for passing their history test.
- Parents say
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What's the story?
In BILL & TED'S EXCELLENT ADVENTURE, slacker teens Bill (Alex Winter) and Ted (Keanu Reeves) are more intent on landing Eddie Van Halen for their band Wyld Stallions than making it through high school. But if the boys don't get an A+ on their history report, they'll flunk out of school, and Ted will be on his way to military school in Alaska. Knowing only that Napoleon is "a short, dead dude" and guessing that Joan of Arc is "Noah's wife," the boys seem to be lost -- until a visitor from the future, Rufus (the perfectly cool George Carlin), appears in a magical phone booth to allow them to experience history first hand. They hatch a plan: Bring historical figures back and let them experience San Dimas -- and then take them to class. The plan goes perfectly, including a run-in at the mall, arrests, and other ensuing silliness.
Is it any good?
Some movies are irresistible junk food for the brain -- short, sweet, and so entertaining you want to watch them over and over again; this is one of those. It's a bonbon of a film, full of good looking, sweet scenes that make you feel giddy.
The great thing about Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure is that it's perfectly paced and perfectly acted. Say what you will about Reeves' wooden-feeling delivery -- it takes a certain level of brilliance to come up with a character who's both maddeningly dumb and completely lovable. And there are other great scenes. Released on a modern mall, the historical characters act out. Joan of Arc rallies the troupes of an aerobics class. Billy the Kid turns out to be a bad flirt. And with one tilt of his corndog, Sigmund Freud is proven to be a perv. It's delightfully silly and eminently watchable.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the "slacker" stereotype. What does that mean to you? Do you consider Bill and Ted to be slackers? Are they role models?
The "dudes" shred on guitar, and the "babes" are treated like prizes. Are those stereotypes? If so, what message does that send to viewers?
If you had a time machine, what time periods would you visit? Who would you want to visit, and why? Do you think the historical figures in Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure really would have reacted the way they did? Would Joan of Arc, for instance, become an aerobics instructor?
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