Australian Council on Children and the Media

Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure

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Not suitable under 10; parental guidance to 13 (sexual references, coarse language, violence)

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This topic contains:

  • overall comments and recommendations
  • details of classification and consumer advice lines for Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure
  • a review of Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure completed by the Australian Council on Children and the Media (ACCM) on 15 September 2020.

Overall comments and recommendations

Children under 10 Not suitable due to sexual references, coarse language and violence.
Children aged 10–13 Parental guidance recommended due to sexual references, coarse language and violence.
Children over the age of 13 Ok for this age group.

About the movie

This section contains details about the movie, including its classification by the Australian Government Classification Board and the associated consumer advice lines.

Name of movie: Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure
Classification: PG
Consumer advice lines: Sexual allusions, occasional low-level coarse language.
Length 89 minutes

ACCM review

This review of the movie contains the following information:

A synopsis of the story

Bill (Alex Winter) and Ted (Keanu Reeves) are going to fail their history class. If Ted fails, his dad (Hal Landon Jr.) is threatening to send him off to Military School in Alaska. They need to do something drastic to make sure they pass. Luckily for them, someone from the future brings them a time machine which means they can go back in time to any era they choose. When Napoleon Bonaparte (Terry Camilleri) accidentally ends up back at their house in the present, they decide he will be a great addition to their history presentation and ask Bill’s little brother (Frazier Bain) to look after him whilst they go back in time to collect other famous historical figures. Bill and Ted begin a harebrained, time-bending adventure which takes them from place to place, including Ancient Greece (Where they pick up Socrates!) and Medieval England. Along the way they get into many hilarious scrapes and mishaps.

Themesinfo

Children and adolescents may react adversely at different ages to themes of crime, suicide, drug and alcohol dependence, death, serious illness, family breakdown, death or separation from a parent, animal distress or cruelty to animals, children as victims, natural disasters and racism. Occasionally reviews may also signal themes that some parents may simply wish to know about.

Time travel; History; Comedy; Music; Teenagers.

Use of violenceinfo

Research shows that children are at risk of learning that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution when violence is glamourised, performed by an attractive hero, successful, has few real life consequences, is set in a comic context and / or is mostly perpetrated by male characters with female victims, or by one race against another.

Repeated exposure to violent content can reinforce the message that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution. Repeated exposure also increases the risks that children will become desensitised to the use of violence in real life or develop an exaggerated view about the prevalence and likelihood of violence in their own world.

There is some violence in this movie including:

  • There is a typical Western scene where a bar brawl starts. People are kicking, punching and smashing bottles over things. Gun shots are fired.
  • The cowboys threaten Bill and Ted, chasing them and saying, “Let’s kill them”.
  • In England, Bill and Ted fight with swords and armour.
  • Someone stabs a suit of armour, that is lying on the floor, through the heart – Bill thinks that Ted is inside the armour and has been killed.
  • Bill and Ted fight with a knight, holding a sword to his throat and then knocking him unconscious.
  • Bill and Ted are taken to be executed. They have to put their heads down onto a block where they are about to be decapitated.
  • Genghis Khan goes into a mall, starts smashing things up with a baseball bat and then beats up a security guard.

Material that may scare or disturb children

Under fiveinfo

Children under five are most likely to be frightened by scary visual images, such as monsters, physical transformations.

In addition to the above-mentioned violent scenes, there are some scenes in this movie that could scare or disturb children under the age of five, including the following:

  • Children in this age group may find some of the violent scenes above (the bar brawl, the execution scene etc) scary.
  • Bill and Ted must run away from the executioner who chases them through the forest. He is wearing a black suit of armour and is intimidating. He smashes into the time machine just as they get away.
  • The time machine flashes and glows and shakes as it takes Bill and Ted to a new time zone. It then zooms off into a psychedelic time tunnel.

Aged five to eightinfo

Children aged five to eight will also be frightened by scary visual images and will also be disturbed by depictions of the death of a parent, a child abandoned or separated from parents, children or animals being hurt or threatened and / or natural disasters.

In addition to the above-mentioned violent scenes and scary visual images, there are some scenes in this movie that could scare or disturb children aged five to eight, including the following:

  • Children in this age group may still find the above-mentioned scenes scary.

Aged eight to thirteeninfo

Children aged eight to thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic threats and dangers, violence or threat of violence and / or stories in which children are hurt or threatened.

  • Nothing further of concern.

Product placement

  • None noted.

Sexual references

There are some sexual references in this movie, including:

  • Frequent references to the appearance and desirability of women and girls – describing them as “hot”, “babes”, “cute” etc.
  • Bill’s stepmother is only a year older than Bill and Ted and they find her extremely attractive. There are many references to how good-looking she is.
  • When Bill and Ted have to think of a number, they both simultaneously choose the number 69 (alluding to the sexual position).
  • Bill and Ted are so happy to see each other safe that they give each other a big hug – they then jump away from each other and Bill shouts, “Fag”, in an obnoxious voice.
  • At the end of the film, the two princess-babes are presented to Bill and Ted, as if they are some kind of prize or reward.

Nudity and sexual activity

There is some nudity and sexual activity in this movie, including:

  • Genghis Khan forcibly grabs a woman, pulls her towards him and kisses her.
  • Bill’s dad comes into his bedroom and sees his young wife. He asks the boys to leave the room (ogling his wife in a suggestive manner). Ted says, “Now your dad is going for it in your own room!”.
  • Bill and Ted both kiss the girls who have come from medieval England.

Use of substances

There is some use of substances in this movie, including:

  • Bill and Ted order a beer in the bar of the Western era. They are given a large bottle of beer each.

Coarse language

There is some coarse language in this movie, including:

  • Crap, Loser, Dickweed, Gonads, Dick, Egghead, Bonehead, Fag.
  • Waiters call Napoleon a “Ziggy piggy” and do a pig face at him (squashed nose) whilst making pig noises.
  • Scene of a cowboy sitting on the toilet passing wind loudly for comic effect.
  • Napoleon does a big burp.

In a nutshell

Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure is a silly time-travel caper which will give older children plenty of laughs. Keanu Reeves and Alex Winter do a fabulous job of bringing the gormless but very likeable characters of Ted and Bill to life. Although there is not a lot to scare young children, there is some coarse language, sexual references, and violent scenes; making this film unsuitable for children under 10.

The main messages from this movie are not to leave your schoolwork to the last moment and that for some people, lived experiences are much more educational than sitting and learning in a classroom.

Values in this movie that parents may wish to reinforce with their children include:

  • Working hard to reach goals, like a school project.
  • Friendship.

This movie could also give parents the opportunity to discuss with their children attitudes and behaviours, and their real-life consequences, such as:

  • This film was only released thirty years ago, but some of the attitudes are extremely dated and parents may want to explain why they are not appropriate today. For example, in this movie women are mainly present for the sole purpose of being objectified.
  • Another example of outdated thinking is the homophobic scene were Bill and Ted hug, and then accuse each other of being a ‘fag’. Not only is this offensive to gay people, but it implies that boys and men showing affection is not ok or has a sexual motive.
  • Genghis Khan is portrayed as a crazy savage person, which could be construed as offensive or racist given that all the other historical figures are North American/European.

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