Friday, March 15, 2013

Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure

Bill S. Preston, Esquire (left) and Ted Theodore Logan (right).

It's not really a secret that I am obsessed with time travel and time travel stories. I can't blame all of it on reading Vonnegut's Slaughterhouse Five. A big part of it probably stems from an early introduction to watching the original Doctor Who series on PBS. When I was 13 or 14 I went to my first fandom convention. It was a Creation Doctor Who convention. I also had a Peter Davidson/Fifth Doctor costume. So, yes. I nerded early and I nerded hard.

Actually, come to think of it, many of my present day interests and likes were shaped by what I used to find on PBS. That's where I watched Doctor Who, Faulty Towers, Monty Python, Nova and tons of other things. Fuck. I should probably renew old pledges and get me a tote bag.

Anyhow, time travel stories have always interested me and I base my life around the premise that at one point in time I may gain access to a time machine. First of all, I have made a solemn vow to myself that I will never visit myself with a time machine. You see, without this promise I as soon as I had access to a time machine, I would invariably go back to an earlier version of myself and give it to me, thus prolonging the amount of time I had it. However, since I have yet to give myself a time machine, I can rule out that I never will get one and thus I would be disappointed. However, by promising that I'd never visit myself, I give myself just enough uncertainty that perhaps I will one day get a time machine, thus I always have hope. Also, very early in our relationship, I made my wife promise to never tell me if an older version of myself ever showed up from the future to have tons of kinky sex with her. Thus, I leave the possibility that at some point in time I may get a time machine and can have lots of crazy sex with a young version of my wife.

Though I suppose I also have created the possibility that some old guy who vaguely looks like me has been secretly banging my wife for years now, but it's still worth it to leave the possibility that I may get a time machine open.

But anyway, Molly loves time travel stories and watches Doctor Who faithfully with us. We have more toy sonic screwdrivers in our house than real screwdrivers (which is occasionally annoying when I have to fix something) and we also have a remote control K-9 unit. When Molly was two, she got a kitchen set for Christmas and I turned the box into a cardboard TARDIS. That thing got more playtime than the kitchen set until it finally fell apart.
Molly's first TARDIS.
So I figured that it was finally time for Molly to see Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure. She was ready. Bill and Ted came at a time for me when the original Doctor Who was just ending and it was a surprisingly fun and satisfying time travel movie. 

It is legitimately funny and it still holds up. Watching it again after so many years has rekindled my long-standing crush on Joan of Arc (who was also the guitarist for the Go-Go's). Basically, the plot and everything is rather silly, but it also is possibly the best film representation of a pre-destination paradox that I have seen.

A lot of times when we watch movies at home, it's easier for Molly to get bored or distracted and want to do something else. However, not with this one. I laid on the sofa and she laid on my back and watched it straight through without distraction or interruption. And I'm sure that's because of the time travel. Her interest in time travel is certainly more proof that she is my child than any DNA test could provide.

Molly: (As usual, Molly is sitting next to me as I type this. Because of her age, her portion of the review will be in Q&A form. I will transcribe what we say and format it later.)

Chuckie: So what did you think about Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure?
Molly: That they, um, they didn't do the music as well as wished they would.
Chuckie: That's true. But what did you think about the movie?
Molly: It was good.

Chuckie: What was the movie about?
Molly: It was about, um, two things.
Chuckie: What two things?
Molly: The music and the school work.

Chuckie: Alright, but what happened in the movie?
Molly: They traveled back in time and they saw themselves and they, um, they were pretending to fight swords and one of them fell down the stairs and he fell right out of his suit when he fell down the stairs. And they were getting people from history.

Chuckie: Why were they getting people from history?
Molly: It was for their school work. That way, the history people could talk and they didn't have to.

Chuckie: Yes, I guess that's true. What people did they get?
Molly: Abraham Lincoln. And that guy on Mommy's shirt.
Chuckie: You mean Napoleon?
Molly: Yeah. The one eating a cooking.

Chuckie: Okay, who else?
Molly: Um, two princesses. And they didn't really know about credit cards in the other world because they were from the past and they, they, um... and they didn't know about the mall.

Chuckie: Anyone else they got?
Molly: Eh. Just some other guys.

Chuckie: So you really just focused on Lincoln, Napoleon and the princesses?
Molly: Yeah. That would be weird if they got Lucas Skywalker in there. He's from the past though, Daddy, not the future. Because you said it was a long time ago.

Chuckie: Yeah, good memory, by the way, Sweetie. So what did you like about the movie, Pixie?
Molly: (she laughs to herself) I just remembered a funny part. Where that guy says, "They do get better."

Chuckie: Anything else that you liked about it?
Molly: Mm. No.
Chuckie: So, we waited 90 minutes to get to a single punchline that you liked at the very end of the movie?
Molly: Yes.

Chuckie: Was there anything you didn't like about the movie?
Molly: Wait, I just thought of another funny part. When that guy was telling his speech and said, "High School football rules!"
Chuckie: (laughs) Yeah. That's probably Daddy's favorite part. So, what didn't you like about the movie?
Molly: Probably nothing.

Chuckie: Tell me about the time travel in the movie?
Molly: Um, they tried to fix it with gum because they accidentally broke it because there were too many people in there. And they kept going to different places and that little kid... I think the word is "ditched" Napoleon.

Chuckie: How did they travel in time?
Molly: With a time machine. I think it was a TARDIS. But it didn't look like a TARDIS because it didn't have that light and it had an antenna instead. And it wasn't bigger on the inside, which was a shame because they had a lot of people in it.
Chuckie: Yeah. Their time machine was actually a phone booth. You see, just like England used to have police boxes in the 60's, we used to have phone booths in the 80's.
Molly: Oh.

Chuckie: Alright, so we've watched a lot of time travel stuff now. Do you know what a predestination paradox is?
Molly: Um. It's a box that has paradise in it?

Chuckie: Not quite. It is when something occurs only because of an attempt to go back into time takes place. For example, the whole reason why that future society existed was because they went back into time and gave Bill and Ted the time machine. Thus, if they never did that, they wouldn't have existed. So it was imperative that they went back into time to give them the time machine, otherwise, they would have never existed to give them the time machine. Got it?
Molly: No.
Chuckie: What don't you get about that?
Molly: Well, first I don't know what "occurs" means.

Chuckie: It means happens. So it only happens because they went back in time to make the future happen.
Molly: So why would they disappear and never exist?
Chuckie: Because if they didn't go back in time, their society wouldn't happen. But it must happen because they exist to go back into time to make it so. Got it?
Molly: Yes.
Chuckie: Really?
Molly: I think so.

Chuckie: Explain that back to me.
Molly: That they don't sew.
Chuckie: What?
Molly: You said they make it sew.

Chuckie: No. Oh well, let's try something easier. The Grandfather Paradox. We actually talked about this once before. Do you remember it?
Molly: No.
Chuckie: It is the rule of time travel that says that you cannot go back into time to kill your own grandfather because if he died, you wouldn't be born and therefore you wouldn't exist to go back into time to kill him. Got it?
Molly: I don't want to kill Pop Pop.
Chuckie: That's not the point.
Molly: Oh.

Chuckie: Do you get it though?
Molly: Yes.
Chuckie: Explain it back to me.
Molly: You can't kill Pop Pop if you already died.
Chuckie: Close enough.
Molly: Can I give it stars now?        

Chuckie: Sure. How many stars do you want to give the movie?
Molly: A thousand.
Chuckie: Out of how many?
Molly: A hundred.

Chuckie: So, a thousand out of a hundred possible stars?
Molly: Yes. And moons.

Chuckie: How many moons do you give it?
Molly: A hundred out of a thousand.

Chuckie: Okay.
Molly: Also, I want to give it two thumbs and a clown.
Chuckie: Are the thumbs up or down?
Molly: Up I guess. I don't know. Maybe one up and one down. The clown is definitely up though.
Chuckie: Huh?
Molly: He's up and doing stuff. You know, clown stuff. He had his coffee and he has a busy morning ahead of him.
Chuckie: What exactly is "clown stuff"?
Molly: The stuff you do as a clown.

Chuckie: Alright, so what kind of people do you think would like this movie?
Molly: TARDIS fans.

Chuckie: Fair enough, Pixie. Is there anything else that you'd like to say about the movie?
Molly: If I had a time machine I would go back in time so see you and Mommy so I would be in that picture with you guys. (She points to a picture of me and Jessica on our honeymoon posing with Spiderman from our honeymoon.)
Chuckie: You know that was from me and Mommy's honeymoon, right?
Molly: Yeah.

Chuckie: Remember we talked about the Grandfather Paradox? If you showed up on our honeymoon, you might not be born.
Molly: Okay. Then I'd take my time machine to Knoebels instead.
Chuckie: Yeah, that's probably safer.

So, that's our review. Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure is a cult classic and for a stupid, silly movie, it actually had some of the more intelligent looks at time travel's use that I've seen in movies. Judging how well this movie went over, I think Molly might be read for "Back to the Future" soon, which will make her mother very happy.

I'm obviously biased because of the time travel theme, but I'd give Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure a solid four out of five stars. I probably would have given it at least another half-star if it wasn't for the fact that this movie lead to Bill and Ted's Excellent Cereal, which (spoiler alert), was not excellent at all.

Molly loved the movie and gave it one thousand out of one hundred starts, one hundred out of one thousand moons, one thumb up, one thumb down and a coffee-laden clown with a busy morning doing "clown stuff". When she first mentioned thumbs, I thought she was finally getting the notion of what rating a movie meant. But then the clown appeared.

A Most Awesome Breakfast Adventure.
Only Urkel-O's beats this for stupid tie-in.

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