Favorite Fictional Characters, #133: Rufus
Greetings, my excellent friends. You know, for a 1989 fluff piece, Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure holds up. Not only is it the highest and best use of Keanu Reeves as an actor, it remains enjoyably silly more than a quarter-century later. If you really want to play time-travel mind games with yourself, consider this: it's been 27 years since this movie was released. 27 years before that, JFK was alive. We're getting old, gang. Even our pop culture touchstones are getting a little gray at the temples.
Sure, the historical figures abducted by San Dimas' resident knuckleheads are light sketches at best, rendered in two cliche-ridden dimensions. Sure, Bill and Ted themselves represent the worst kind of slacker-deification that marked the late 80s and early 90s. "We're lazy and dumb but we're cool and it will all work out!" That used to infuriate me. Heck, it still does. Even so, I can't help but like this movie and its dopey protagonists. As the film progresses, it becomes apparent that there's more resourcefulness and gray matter to Bill and Ted than we're led to believe by their slovenly lifestyle. And one man's intervention will show them how to begin using it.
Despite his limited time on screen, George Carlin's futuristic mentor Rufus remains my favorite part of this movie, probably because it's fun watching George play it friendly and optimistic rather than caustic and loaded with grumpy skepticism. He's cool, glib, and his sly winks to the audience are vintage George. He's relatively blase about the dangers of time travel, which is one of the things I like about this movie. Instead of garment-rending diatribes about the fragility of the time-space continuum, we get repeated casual and self-serving abuse of temporal power. That's pretty awesome.