Bill and Ted vs. Wayne and Garth

I recently re-watched Wayne’s World and it brought back a lot of fun memories. It got me thinking about another cinematic pair of rockers: Bill and Ted.

I was tempted to compare the two duos. After all, Bill and Ted and Wayne and Garth have a lot in common:

  • They are would-be rockers who film themselves in their parents’ garage/basement.
  • One has black hair and the other has blond hair.
  • They share a similar vernacular, including such phrases as, “Party on,” “Excellent,” No way,” and “Bogus.”
  • They date girls who are way out of their league (and/or century).
  • They each had two movies that end in chase scenes and some type of performance at the end.
  • In both duos, one actor went on to have a successful acting career (Keanu Reeves/Mike Myers) while the other fell into relative obscurity (Alex Winters/Dana Carvey).

But there is something about the very nature of these films that clearly differentiates them: the Bill and Ted movies are satires while Wayne’s World and its sequel are parodies.

Some might think that because of the shallow and stupid nature of the main characters, these films are completely silly and not worthy of any type of critical analysis. I beg to differ. I’ve already shown how Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure is an example of cinematic chiasmus. That, by itself, shows that there is at least something going on in this film just below surface.

Let’s dig deeper and see what we find about these films.

Bill and Ted’s Satire

Be excellent to each other and party on, dudes.Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure and Bill and Ted’s Bogus Journey are satires of the Chosen One story. Dune, Harry Potter, Kung Fu Panda, and The Matrix are just a handful of examples of films that follow the Chosen One story structure: A young man discovers he inherently possesses incredible powers and sets forth on a quest to make the world a better place.

The Bill and Ted movies play with this concept to an absurd (and awesome) degree. The rock ‘n roll music of a couple of dimwitted yet likable young men will eventually usher in an era of universal peace and harmony throughout the cosmos. That is hilarious. It’s not some mystical force or divine power that will save humanity, but two electric guitars.

Instead of having some kind of ancient prophecy that says they will pass their class, Bill and Ted get visited by themselves from a few hours into the future. They become their own prophets, telling themselves what they’re about to do. That is just perfect. There’s no book where their destinies are written. They get to write their own destiny.

Of course, none of this would be possible if they hadn’t already succeeded so that the future society could build the time machine to allow them to pass their History class. But these movies handle paradoxes in very clever ways. Like the fact that Ted’s dad has been missing his keys for several days because it was Ted himself who stole them by going back in time and doing that later. And then the climax of Bill and Ted’s Bogus Journey has a few more tricks up its sleeve with how the heroes defeat the villain and get good enough to change the world with their music in just a few seconds.

I also love the tie-in to a classic Star Trek moment. At one point, Bill and Ted are watching an episode from the original series where Kirk fights a lizard-like alien on a desert planet. And immediately after that, they get put into a life-and-death situation of their own at the exact same spot where that episode of Star Trek was filmed. That comparison is brilliant because it suggests that Bill and Ted will somehow be scrappy enough to get out of that predicament and defeat their enemies while also suggesting that these two are about to “go where no man has gone before.” Indeed, they wind up doing both, but not in the way we expect. They suffer an undignified death and wander through the afterlife where they find people to help them fight their battles for them. So they do eventually triumph, like Kirk, but it’s in a completely unexpected and funny way.

Wayne’s World’s Parody

Wayne and Garth are not saviors, but they are content to point out plot holes.Wayne’s World and its sequel are parodies of parodies. I mean that not only are these films poking fun at other films, such as poorly dubbed kung-fu movies and silly romantic comedies, but they are also mocking the assumptions that films like those make. For example, Wayne and Garth frequently break the fourth wall to comment on situations that seem particularly contrived. Like when they mention how convenient it is that they just happen to talk to a security guard who knows detailed information about the location of a businessman, which becomes vitally important later.

The random cameo by Robert Patrick as the T-1000 from Terminator 2: Judgment Day is hilarious because it’s so unexpected. But the most amazing cameo comes in Wayne’s World 2. Not everything works as smoothly in that sequel, but it does have one absolutely brilliant scene. When Wayne is trying to find his girlfriend and stop her from marrying the wrong man, he desperately asks a mechanic for directions. And this is what happens:

Charlton Heston, ladies and gentlemen! The man imbues beauty and drama into every syllable he utters. They could have just surprised us with another unexpected cameo, but to recast the part in the middle of the scene adds a layer of hilarity that is nothing short of inspired. Heston has done many other memorable cameos, such as in True Lies and Hamlet (1996). But Wayne’s World 2 is probably my favorite.

It’s Party Time

Bill and Ted are basically messiahs. They even offer their own version of Jesus’ Golden Rule in the form of, “Be excellent to each other, and party on, dudes!” But they have fun with the whole concept of a savior. Their music is going to profoundly change humanity for the better… if they can only survive high school and attacks by killer robots from the future.

Wayne and Garth are not saviors, but they are content to point out plot holes and ridiculous aspects of films that we are expected to just ignore or accept.

So while Bill and Ted and Wayne and Garth seem to be completely in harmony with each other, they’re really playing completely different tunes. Party on, my friends.

This is the Deja Reviewer bidding you farewell until we meet again.

All images and video clips are the copyright of their respective owners.

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About Robert Lockard, the Deja Reviewer

Robert Lockard has been a lover of writing since he was very young. He studied public relations in college, graduating with a Bachelor’s degree in 2006. His skills and knowledge have helped him to become a sought-after copywriter in the business world. He has written blogs, articles, and Web content on subjects such as real estate, online marketing and inventory management. His talent for making even boring topics interesting to read about has come in handy. But what he really loves to write about is movies. His favorite movies include: Fiddler on the Roof, Superman: The Movie, Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, Back to the Future, Beauty and the Beast, The Fugitive, The Incredibles, and The Dark Knight. Check out his website: Deja Reviewer. Robert lives in Utah with his wife and three children. He loves running, biking, reading, and watching movies with his family.
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9 Responses to Bill and Ted vs. Wayne and Garth

  1. Another awesome post, but can you explain the difference between satire and parody?

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    • Oops. I forgot to mention that important detail, didn’t I? Basically, satire is a form of comedy that usually has a social commentary attached to it. Bill and Ted seem like the least worthy candidates of being saviors of humanity, and yet their films thrust them into that position through some pretty crazy means, like time travel and rock music. The Bill and Ted films aren’t parodying specific films, but they’re satirizing the idea of Christ-types.

      A parody, on the other hand, is poking fun at specific films, scenes, and genres. Its main purpose is to point out the silliness of films and people who take themselves a bit too seriously. Wayne’s World 1 and 2 definitely fall into that category. They’re not trying to make any kind of serious statement about corporations or relationships, even though they touch on those topics briefly. They’re mostly just recreating scenes from other films in funny ways and eliciting laughs along the way.

      I hope that clears it up. Sorry I didn’t explain that more clearly in the article itself.

      Like

  2. OK, I understand. Can I make a sugestion? A list with the actors that “inverted” their roles in different movies, for example: Richard Gere is a male prostitute in “American Gigolo” and a client of a prostitute in “Pretty Woman”. John Hurt is a victim of a dictatorship in “1984” and a dictator in “V for Vendetta”

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  3. rgdole says:

    I’ve always much preferred Bill and Ted to Wayne’s World… but now I like it even more… of course I’ve always found satires better to parodies… satires takes some thought… while parodies seem to just go for the easy obvious laughs…

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    • I totally agree. I liked movies like Airplane and The Naked Gun the first time or two, but now I don’t really seek them out as much as I used to. But movies like RoboCop, True Lies, and other satires I still can’t get enough of.

      Liked by 2 people

      • rgdole says:

        Omg… I love True Lies… and now I’m going to have to go watch it… but have you seen the new RoboCop? I liked the old ones alright but the new one was pretty amazing… and I was glad they didn’t try to do like an exact copy of the original… though some don’t see it as much a satire as the firsts were… most say the only bit of satire lies in the portrayal of the media through Samuel L. Jackson… but I still think it does much of the same job as the first one did…

        Liked by 1 person

      • Thank you for the recommendation. I finally saw the new RoboCop… and I have to admit I didn’t feel as strongly about it as I had hoped. I definitely appreciate that it was trying something different than the first one, like you said. But it took way too long to kick into gear. The first half is all training simulations and political posturing and then the second half keeps RoboCop from doing anything interesting until the last 20 minutes or so.

        By the end of the film, I hadn’t really gotten to know any of the characters. Jack Lewis, Police Chief Dean, Antoine Vallon, and Raymond Sellars are a far cry from Anne Lewis, Sergeant Reed, Clarence Boddicker, and Dick Jones. I liked the mystery of the original where we didn’t know how much of Alex Murphy remained in the hardware and how much was wiped from his memory. Alex (as everyone calls him in the new one) knows exactly who he is and talks to his family all the time.

        He just strikes me as mopey and unable to get the job done. The way that he takes out Vallon was incredibly anticlimactic. I also didn’t like the way they let him cheat and simply disobey his programming to kill Sellars. I appreciate what the film was trying to do in being so different than what came before, but I feel like it had a lot of problems that kept me from enjoying it. Sorry.

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      • rgdole says:

        lol then why on earth would you thank me for the recommendation? I see your point… but I guess that’s part of the thing I liked about it… it was more human vs technology… like can you program a human or will their own will power break through it? I also always found the first one depressing because you could tell there was still some of Murphy left in and it was like he lost everything and his wife was all freaking out trying to figure out if it was really him or not… but to each his own…

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