Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure (1989) is an American buddy comedy/science fiction movie in which two slacking Metalheads travel through time in order to assemble a menagerie of historical figures for their high school history presentation.
The movie was written by Chris Matheson and Ed Solomon and directed by Stephen Herek. It stars Alex Winter as Bill S. Preston, Esquire, Keanu Reeves as “Ted” Theodore Logan, and George Carlin as Rufus.
The film opens in the future San Dimas, California, with Rufus (George Carlin) preparing to use a time-traveling phone booth to travel back to 1988 to make sure that Bill S. Preston, Esq. (Alex Winter) and Theodore “Ted” Logan (Keanu Reeves) remain together as the band “Wyld Stallyns”, as their music is the core of the future’s Utopian society. Rufus finds that Bill and Ted are on the verge of failing their high school history class, and should Ted fail, his father, police captain Logan (Hal Langdon) will ship him off to an Alaskan military academy, effectively ending the pair’s dreams of forming a band. As the two try to write a history report by asking customers questions at a local Circle K, Rufus introduces himself to them. Though Bill and Ted are skeptical of Rufus’ claims, they are convinced when future versions of themselves land nearby and explain the situation to them. Rufus shows Bill and Ted how the time machine works by taking them back to see Napoleon Bonaparte (Terry Camilleri) preparing for battle. Rufus returns to the present and leaves the two with the time machine; after Rufus leaves, they discover that Napoleon was dragged with them back to the present, and get an idea: to pass their history exam, they will go back in time and kidnap other historical figures and have them explain what they think of the San Dimas of the present. Bill and Ted leave Napoleon with Ted’s younger brother Deacon while they travel back to the past.
Bill and Ted first collect Billy the Kid (Dan Shor) and Socrates (Tony Steedman) (whom they refer to as “So-Crates” (/?so?kre?ts/ ), who are both confused but eager to help the pair. When they travel to 15th Century England, they become smitten with Princess Elizabeth (Kimberley Kates) and Princess Joanna (Diane Franklin), but fall into trouble with their father the King; they manage to escape with the help of Billy and Socrates and continue traveling through time. Soon, they have collected Sigmund Freud (Rod Loomis), Ludwig van Beethoven (Clifford David), Genghis Khan (Al Leong), Joan of Arc (Jane Wiedlin), and Abraham Lincoln (Robert V. Barron). The passengers encounter brief technical difficulties, and when attempting to return to the present, end up returning on the previous day outside the Circle K with Rufus introducing himself to their past selves. Bill and Ted recount their experience to their past selves, and learn how to properly return to the present from Rufus in order to give their history report on time.
While trying to get the other historical figures accustomed to life in San Dimas by dropping them off at the local shopping mall, Ted learns that Deacon abandoned Napoleon at a bowling alley the night before. Bill and Ted go off to search for him, finding him enjoying himself at a local water park, “Waterloo”. When they return to the mall, they find the other historical figures have been arrested by Ted’s father due to the chaos they caused. The two try to figure out how to rescue them when they realize they can use the time machine to go back in time and plant elements, such as the cell keys, at the police station for their escape plan. They successfully free the historical figures and make it to the school on time for their report. The report is an outstanding success, and the two pass their course.
The influential historical figures are all returned to their own time, seeding Bill and Ted’s philosophy througout time.
In the closure of the film, Rufus joins Bill and Ted as they practice and congratulates them on their report. Rufus brings in Princesses Elizabeth and Joanna, whom he rescued from their father (and from getting married to those royal ugly dudes), and explains that he’s introduced them to the modern century, and that they too are destined to be part of Wyld Stallyns. As the four begin to play an amateurish cacophony of music, Rufus breaks the fourth wall and assures us that “they do get better”.