A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure is about two slackers who have no respect for authority and actively disobey their parents. But the tone is still very lighthearted and the characters seem to have the best intentions during their adventures through time. There is some comic violence and, appropriately, the Dark Ages is where the duo encounters the most life-threatening -- but still comic -- situations. Girls are treated as sex objects to the point that Rufus 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 Keanu Reeve's wooden acting skills -- it takes a certain level of brilliance to come up with a character who is 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 Kidd 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 imminently watchable.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how to balance creative pursuits like music with good school work.
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?
Do you think Bill and Ted are good role models? Why or why not?
- In theaters: February 17, 1989
- On DVD or streaming: December 4, 2001
- Cast: Alex Winter, George Carlin, Keanu Reeves
- Director: Stephen Herek
- Studio: MGM/UA
- Genre: Comedy
- Topics: Adventures, Friendship, High School, History
- Run time: 90 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG
- MPAA explanation: mild violence and some sexuality
- Last updated: September 20, 2019
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