Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure 30th Anniversary Steelbook Edition Blu-ray Review: Party On, Dudes!

When I bought my first computer with my own money, one of the first things I did was change the normal Windows shut-down WAV file for one of Bill saying, “This has been a most unusual day.”  Though she doesn’t get the reference, I often call my daughter Lydia Brewster, Esquire.  While there is no longer a Circle K anywhere near me, I will often note that strange things are afoot at whatever oddball place I happen to be in.  If someone asks me for a number, my answer is always “69, dude!”  And whenever I meet someone named Missy, I immediately call her Mom.

As you can tell I’m a big fan of Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure.  Released in 1989, it came out at the perfect time in this boy’s life.  I was 13, which is right at the age when really dumb jokes about your friend’s mom’s cleavage and having Socrates quote Kansas lyrics is the height of comedy.  Ok, I admit it. I’m 42 now and those jokes still make me giggle.

Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure is a really dumb movie in all the best possible ways.  It stars Alex Winter and Keanu Reeves (in his break-out role) as the titular California dumb slacker dudes who want nothing more than to be the greatest rock stars on the planet (even if they don’t yet have Van Halen on board, and can’t actually play their guitars).  When Ted’s father tells him that if he doesn’t pass his History class then he’s getting shipped to military school in Alaska, the two struggle to come up with something interesting for their final presentation.

Feeling bummed at the Circle K, they meet Rufus (George Carlin), a hip dude from the future who appears out of nowhere in a telephone box (my 13-year-old self certainly didn’t get the Doctor Who reference in that, but it gives me a big smile now).  He sends them on a journey through the past where they pick up various famous dudes (Abraham Lincoln, Genghis Khan, Sigmund Freud, Billy the Kid, Napoleon, Beethoven, and dudette Joan of Arc) take them back to present-day California and learn their reactions on modern times.  Along the way, they have some very silly adventures, pass their exam, and learn that their music eventually ushers in a new era of peace and tranquility.

I hadn’t watched the film in at least a couple of decades, but all these years later I still found it totally fun and and a most excellent good time.  It is such a goofy, quotable movie that I found references to it that I’ve been making for most of my life that I actually forgot came from it.

For the film’s 30th anniversary, Shout! Factory has put out an excellent (sorry I just can’t help myself) new Steelbook.  As far as I can tell the audio/video has all been transferred over from a previous Blu-ray release, which is okay because it looks great.  I didn’t notice any compression or other digital errors.  The print is clean and nice looking. There is some pretty prevalent grain but nothing particularly bothersome. The audio sounds nice as well.  There’s quite a bit of action in the film giving the back speakers plenty to do and as the phone booth crackles and swooshes, the sound immerses you quite well.

Extras include an old commentary with Alex Winter and producer Scott Proof plus another one with writers Christ Matheson and Ed Solomon.  What is new for this release is a new retrospective with just about everyone involved including Keanu Reeves.  It’s a lot of fun.  I won’t say it’s worth the cost of a double dip if you already have the movie on Blu-ray, but it’s definitely worth watching if you get it.

Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure is such a joy to watch.  The story is silly and it’s not all that well directed but the two leads bring a charm to it, making it one of the delights of 1980s comedy.  This new Shout! Factory anniversary Steelbook is mostly repackaged from other releases, but it’s got a nice new retrospective making it well worth checking out.

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Mat Brewster

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