Bill and Ted were terrible students. They needed an actual time machine to help them pass their History final. The Wyld Stallyns leaders are awful songwriters. Even though they learned to play their instruments, they never figured out how to pen the ode that was meant to unite the global community. So what the hell are Bill (Alex Winter) and Ted (Keanu Reeves) actually good at? And why do we have a trilogy dedicated to their adventures?
I posed this question to Ed Solomon, co-creator of the Bill & Ted franchise, and the co-screenwriter of the latest chapter, Bill and Ted Face the Music. This, after all, is the man who charts the course for Bill and Ted on each excellent adventure, and who appeals to their strengths as characters. And so, he told me:
What a great question. I've never gotten that. They are good at… you know how your GPS, when you pass an exit it meant you to take, or you turn in the wrong direction, it goes, ‘Recalculating route?’ Bill and Ted feel things very deeply, but they’re very good at recalculating their route, and committing to move forward. They're also very good at seeing the good in people around them, and to living committed to that. And they're very good at navigating through difficult situations where all hope is lost, while continuing to have faith. So I would say that those are the things they’re good at.
The optimism shared by Bill and Ted is contagious. It has powered Keanu Reeves and Alex Winter through two wildly unpredictable chapters, where the duo managed to do everything from time travel to dying and resurrecting themselves (with the help of God and Station). But it cracked me up, upon rewatch, to realize that Bill and Ted don’t have any discernible skills that get the out of jams. They’re better than Death (William Sadler) at various board games. And they are natural conversationalists, able to commune with Joan of Arc, Napoleon and citizens from the future.
After thinking about it for a minute, Bill and Ted Face the Music co-screenwriter Ed Solomon concludes:
Ted is very good at coming up with a strange, counterintuitive notion. And Bill is very good at taking that notion and putting it into actionable terms.
To put it simply, they are an excellent team. And audiences have enjoyed going on their most bodacious adventures ever since the duo made its debut in 1989.
The journey continues now that the long-awaited Bill and Ted Face the Music lands in select theaters and on Paid VOD starting on August 28. In the new movie, Bill (Alex Winter) and Ted (Keanu Reeves) are fathers who are pulled back into a race-the-clock mission to compose a song that will prevent the fabric of time from unraveling. No big deal, right? The comedy co-stars Kristen Schaal, William Sadler, Anthony Carrigan, Samara Weaving and Brigette Lundy-Paine. Look out for it.