Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure

Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure ★★★★½

takes an intentionally contrarian premise -- what if heavy metal MTV is not the death of youth sophistication and culture, but instead a gateway into utopian harmony -- and fuses it with a postmodern flattening of history to create an unexpectedly joyous and sincere celebration of youth. alex winter and keanu reeves essentially carry the film, crafting slack-faced performances that encourage laughter without ever winking at the audience. what could have easily been mean-spirited judgment of the metal generation (as mike judge would later do with beavis & butthead), reeves and winter instead infuse their characters with a naive, enchanting humanity. their goofiness does not invite ridicule, and it's this awareness that laughing doesn't always have to be mean, along with a use of postmodernism without the usual ironic detachment and high-minded scorn, that gives this film a vitality that i wasn't expecting, 25 years later. this was one of my favorite films as a child, and when compared with star wars and other childhood favorites its cheerful simplicity doesn't seem anywhere near as embarrassing.

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