Starburst No. 140, Volume 12, #8 (UK), April 1990
Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure Previewed
A non-stop giggle from start to finish, Stephen Herek's second film after Critters overhauls the seriousness of Time travel movies, updating the Doctor Who concept to enchant anew. Everybody concerned looks like they had a ball making Bill and Ted, you can often catch the actors grinning unguardedly in the background, and this happy-go-lucky sense of fun transfers itself well through the fourth wall. It's a daft, thoroughly stupid send-up of Valley-speaking dudes, yet engaging to the max. I laughed so much I felt I'd been gagged with a spoon!
More concerned with taping 'a most triumphant video' to launch their hard rock band, The Wyld Stallyns, Bill and Ted (Alex Winter and Keanue [sic] Reeves) are in serious danger of flunking their history exams 'most heinously'. That would mean Ted being sent to military school, very 'bogus', and splitting the 'bodacious' dudes will have an awesome effect on the history of the world. For the Stallyns' music is destined to initiate universal peace and harmony.
Enter a 'solidly dressed' emissary from the concerned Future, with the answer to their problem - a time-travelling phone booth which whisks them through the circuits of history to gather their knowledge first hand. With the 'savoury' words 'Excuse me, but you can you point us in the direction of any historical personages of note in this area', they abduct and cram Napoleon, Joan of Arc, Billy the Kid, Genghis Kahn, Mozart [this was, of course, Beethoven not Mozart], Freud, Socrates and Abraham Lincoln into the bionic booth. Stopping briefly in prehistoric times to repair the crowded kiosk, they land on stage to give 'a most excellent' A+ lecture saving the future world into the bargain.
Get on Bill and Ted’s puerile wavelength and the beguiling grab-bag affair will have you chortling constantly as Herek’s light scattershot style perfectly complements the wayward cosmic capers. All hilarity stems from one vital ingredient - the superb characterisations of Bill and Ted themselves. There has never been such a witlessly appealing airhead duo as Winter and Reeves. Ambling amiably across the screen like a moronic puppet with loose strings, Reeves cracked me up without him ever having to say a word. And Winter’s crooked plus Valley vocabulary makes him endearing with a vengeance.
Noteworthy computer animation means the time-warp special effects are always something to look forward to. And there are enough good ideas stuffed into this winning premise to even give the Back to the Futures a run for their money. Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure really is excellent and as flawless a purpose-built junk movie could ever wish to be. ‘Most unprecedented’ enjoyment! (Starburst rating: 9)