(Welcome to The Quarantine Stream, a new series where the /Film team shares what they’ve been watching while social distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic.)

The Movie: Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure

Where You Can Stream It: Hulu, Crackle

The Pitch: Two bodacious dudes (Alex Winter and Keanu Reeves) are in danger of flunking most heinously out of high school, unless they can complete their final history class presentation with flying colors. But they get a chance to salvage their grades (and prevent Reeves’ Ted from being sent to military school) when a time traveler (George Carlin) is sent from the future where their band is the foundation for a perfect society. Using his time machine, Bill and Ted travel through history, picking up various historical figures to help with their history presentation.

Why It’s Essential Quarantine Viewing: Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure could easily be a disposable stoner comedy — one of the many that would flood the cinemas in the late ’80s and early ’90s. But there’s something unabashedly sweet and wholesome about this movie about two slackers who stumble their way through history. Perhaps it’s Winter and Reeves’ joyful performances as airheads with hearts of gold, the two of them always donning a wide-toothed smile whether they’re talking to a lovely historical lady or a murderous knight. Maybe it’s the innately silly image of two bros traveling through time in a phone booth. Or maybe it’s the surprisingly accurate attention to historical detail. But to me, it’s the inarguably optimistic approach that the movie takes, and it’s vision of a perfect future where the only mantra is “be excellent to each other.”

Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure has left more of a mark on pop culture than you would think a silly teen time travel comedy would. Sure, a lot of it can be attributed to Reeves’ meteoric rise in Hollywood in the years that would follow, with Bill and Ted acting as an odd blip in the hunky movie superstar’s career. But I actually think Bill and Ted and its exceptionally sweet approach (save for one homophobic joke that aged poorly) would form the foundation for the famously nice star’s reputation — even if he and his team tried to distance themselves as much as possible from the stoner persona — and helped amass the film a cult following that adored its goodhearted zaniness.

Because Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure is as zany as it gets. Any well-accepted logic about time travel is thrown out the window in favor of the innate comedy of seeing two slacker dudes from the ’80s kidnap historical figures and stuffing them into an increasingly crowded phone booth. There’s no fretting about changing history or any real stakes when Napoleon Bonaparte is let loose in contemporary San Dimas, because the only stakes that matter, the only thing driving this very silly narrative, is getting to Bill and Ted’s high school in time to give their history presentation.

I love this movie with my whole heart. I love Winter and Reeves’ dopey and endlessly charming performances. I love seeing Sigmund Freud, Ludwig van Beethoven, Genghis Khan, Joan of Arc, and Abraham Lincoln wander around a shopping mall wreaking havoc, surprisingly at home in ’80s San Dimas. None of it makes sense and none of it should work, but that’s the power of Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure. It’s pure, dumb, goodhearted fun.

Cool Posts From Around the Web: