The premise of this movie is that these two kids, Bill and Ted, who are teenage rebels, need to pass their history class in order for Ted not to be sent to military school. Both are not studious and would rather rock n’ roll than study! To pass their history class, they need to present an oral report on how historical figures would think of their town, San Dimas, California. They ask, unsuccessfully, random people in the convenience store historical questions. The days is saved, however, when their future friend Rufus comes with the time machine. Their first stop in time is in 1805 where they meet and kidnap Napoleon Bonaparte himself! Amusingly, the film keeps the language barriers intact :) They also go to the old west and meet Billy The Kid, but not before a shootout! Along their way, they also visit Socrates (who speaks Ancient Greek) teaching a class, dodge the inquisition and meet Joan of Arc, and for extra credit, also take Sigmund Freud, Beethoven, Genghis Khan, and Abraham Lincoln! They tried to take two daughters of king Henry VI, but were unsuccessful and nearly get beheaded! Once back in the modern world, Bill introduces them as “friends” to his mother and she has all of them do household chores before they go out to the mall to experience San Dimas for their assignment.
The historical figures’ cultural clashes come to fruition when in the mall, and create absolute havoc! Among their antics, Genghis Khan goes into a sports store and smashes everything, Beethoven plays on an electric keyboard, Joan of Arc usurps an aerobics class, and the others create their own mischief ending in a wild chase by mall security! Napoleon goes out bowling with modern friends, but is ditched and has to be found. Quote humorously he is found at a water park named “Waterloo”. Meanwhile, the police arrested the other historical figures, so Bill and Ted hatch a plan to get them free in time for the presentation. Once freed, they do an excellent presentation and pass! They return the historical figures back, but in a plot twist, they kept two of King Henry VI’s daughters, who initially was thought to have been left behind, who joined their rock band!
Overall, I thought the premise of the movie was very clever and would help get kids into history more! I liked that the movie was lighthearted with some funny action. There weren’t many deep messages or dark themes, but it was still good as it was a comedy movie. Mot importantly, I like how they handled the culture clash between each historical figure’s time period and culture and their peculiarities were unique to them as individuals from different cultures and time periods. I especially loved that they kept the language barriers of the historical figures like Napoleon and Socrates as it made it that much more authentic. It is often overlooked for convenience to the modern viewer, but it takes away a lot of the realism of portraying an out of place historical person! I commend the research and training to portray each of the correct languages! I also like the costumes as they were historical clothing as well as the scenes in the past which were also rendered quite authentically. My only criticism was how oblivious the rest of the world was to how much those historical people stuck out! I mean really, especially with Napoleon bowling and at the restaurant, no one seemed to notice his odd clothing or the fact he speaks only French! Also, the scene introducing them to Bill’s mom, it’s like she’s never heard of any of them and was completely oblivious that they all stuck out like a sore thumb with their clothes and bogus names (which weren’t too far off from their real ones) and at the police station booking them! All I could think of was “Hello! These are REAL historical figures right in front of you! Really? You didn’t notice?” The premise was hilarious and one of my very favorite things to imagine when I think of my own historical fiction; the culture clash between past and present. I love that more movies are taking on the subject and this one did it splendidly!