Why Do People Always Forget About ‘Bill & Ted’?
Keanu Reeves was trending on Twitter this morning, and, thankfully, it wasn’t because unhinged memoir salesman Matthew Perry wished death upon him again. Instead, Reeves was the subject of a small online scuffle when one particularly uncultured Twitter user posted a picture of the actor with the challenge, “Name one of his his films without mentioning John Wick or any of the Matrix films.”
The absurd question drew an uproarious response from fans of films like Speed, Point Break and Constantine, leaving those of us with a more refined taste to wonder, “Why don’t people remember that he got his start in Bill & Ted?” Reeves’ comedic talents are tragically underappreciated, and it’s time to pay respects to the oft-overlooked humor section of the internet darling’s filmography.
Though Reeves is primarily known as an action star by modern moviegoers, Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure was the film that first put him on the map back in 1989 and set the stage for him to become one of the biggest names in movies throughout the 1990s. Reeves’ performance as Ted “Theodore” Logan helped launch a trilogy that holds a special place in the hearts of fans of earnest, silly, historically themed humor. Reeves’ Ted and Alex Winter’s Bill S. Preston, Esquire brought a simpleminded attitude of fun and adventure to the time-travel genre that was so popular in the 1980s.
Though Reeves’ comedy chops in Bill & Ted were responsible for his explosion in popularity, after Point Break came out in 1991, all audiences wanted from him was to be a self-serious action star who saves the world and stares stoically into the camera. That’s exactly what Reeves did during the 1990s with movies like Speed and Johnny Mnemonic. Then, when The Matrix hit the scene in 1999, it solidified his name as one of the biggest in the action genre.
There’s nothing wrong with wanting to see Reeves clear out a room of bad guys without breaking a sweat — he’s a fantastic action actor responsible for some of the most iconic fight scenes in movie history. But he’s just as delightful when directors give him the chance to slow down and not take things too seriously — Reeves’ cameo in Always Be My Maybe was one of the most unexpectedly unpretentious performances we’ve ever seen from an A-lister playing themselves in a romcom.
With last year’s release of The Matrix: Resurrections and the upcoming John Wick: Chapter 4, it’s sadly not surprising that Reeves’ name is more closely associated with ass-kicking than anything else. It’s disappointing that, when the third and (possibly) final installment of the Bill & Ted series, Bill & Ted Face the Music, came out in 2020, Reeves’ star power wasn’t enough to convince audiences to take a chance on seeing John Wick reprise the role that put him on a map. Though a critical success, Bill & Ted Face the Music grossed just $6.3 million at the box office on a $25 million budget. Hopefully this isn't the last time we see Reeves revisit his comedy roots — Hollywood needs actors like him to balance out the Rocks and Diesels of the world who are contractually prohibited from being the butt of the joke.
As for Twitter fights and Keanu slander, we can all take a page out of Bill & Ted’s book and just be excellent to each other.