Better Time-Traveling Flick: Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure vs. Back to the Future

Now that the Hot Tub Time Machine has more or less been drained as it limps off movie screens, let's turn our attention to two classic time-traveling franchises. On today's Criss Cross Counter Punch, The Weirdgirl and Archphoenix debate who were the better time traveller(s): Bill & Ted or Marty McFly?

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The Weirdgirl: Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure is pure energy. This immediately makes it the better pick of time travel movies. There are not many movies that can keep you grinning the entire time but Bill & Ted's manages to do it. It doesn't get bogged down in too many subplots or angsty worries about the space-time continuum (yawn) like Back to the Future. It's just plain fun.

I also think it's the more realistic of the two movies. Bill and Ted got mileage out of their time travels. They went to multiple eras. They partied with interesting people. Really, if you had a time machine, would you go back to one time and slouch around whining about your parents for the entire trip then slink back home? Or would you have taken that machine for a real spin as soon as you got it back up and running? Bill and Ted understood the value of the time traveling tool and theirs was the more realistic teenage response: deal with the crisis at hand and look for babes, while also having the time of your life. And no matter how crazy things got you noticed that not once did Bill OR Ted make out with a family member, right? (What's wrong with you Marty?)

Plus, it was quite refreshing to see Keanu Reeves not try to act. It brought a nice natural feel to the film and you weren't waiting for his head to explode from Brooding Forehead Syndrome the entire movie.

Last but not least, Bill & Ted has George Carlin in it. I love me some Christopher Lloyd but in a fight who do you think would take it? GEORGE fricking CARLIN! That's right, bitches!

Archphoenix: Woah (said in Keanu voice). Bill & Ted's is fun, no doubt. We even got our junior high Latin teacher to show it in class based on the promise that Socrates had educational value. Teacher really shoulda screened the film before taking our word for it. However, Back to the Future is the ultimate '80s time travel movie.

First, time-traveling telephone booth? It's been done. It was called the TARDIS and Doctor Who perfected it. The TARDIS even has a cooler noise. Time-traveling stainless steel DeLorean? Totally hot. Plus, a sparkly flux capacitor running at 1.21 gigawatts - that's science.

Second of all, Christopher Lloyd as Doc Brown is manic genius. Add the straight man loopiness of Crispin Glover and the perkiness of Lea Thompson and you have a movie with, you know, actual acting.

Third, the music. The Wyld Stallyns kind of suck. Marty McFly rocks the prom with a wailin' rendition of "Johnny B. Goode." Plus, Michael J. Keaton is totally adorable.

Bonus for Lost fans: Hurley uses the Back to the Future Polaroid photo explanation to explain time travel. You don't see Hurley quoting the film with a traveling phone booth that can be repaired with bubble gum.

The Weirdgirl: OMG, phone booths are classic! That's why they keep being repurposed in popular time traveling and other speculative fiction. In fact, did you know that phone booths are still used to this day? DeLoreans are... um... where? I will concede that Marty's guitar playing was pretty hot. But all that pelvic thrusting? Right after making out with his mom? Ew. And talking about legacies: Bill & Ted's had comics, video games, and a cereal made after the movie. CEREAL! That's Wheaties status, my friend.

Archphoenix: Kids today don't know what a phone booth is. But the DeLorean is always hot looking. You want to talk legacies? Back to the Future was a trilogy. Back to the Future II totally kicks the ass of Bill & Ted's Bogus Journey. There was also an animated show. A Universal theme park ride. And the movie has two songs written exclusively for the film by Huey Lewis. Incidentally, this week I learned that Lewis has a cameo appearance in the film. Another thing I learned is that the concept for the film came from my hometown of St. Louis. WIN.

The Weirdgirl: Kids today all believe in hybrids, you know. I think they'd recognize the Back to the Future DeLorean as the environmental hazard it was, what with its dirty bomb-fueled system! In fact, the entire movie is a study of non-eco-friendly agendas: over-development, litter everywhere. It's really just a shame. Not nearly as uplifting as Bill & Ted's promise of a utopian future. And I know the folks at Universal agree with me because they've had, not one, but TWO Bill & Ted shows running since 1992.

Archphoenix: Ha! But Past Doc is totally eco-friendly - he harnesses LIGHTINING. Hippies have to get behind that! Also, Back to the Future won one Oscar and was nominated for several more, including Best Original Screenplay. And the film has been referenced in speeches by two different presidents. By the way, while looking that stuff up I learned something else - there was supposed to be a Bill & Ted 3 but it got axed and the script and ideas got repurposed as... Bio-Dome! Back to the Future III might be the weakest of the trilogy but man oh man is it better than Bio-Dome! ;)

The Weirdgirl: Back to the Future was referenced by Reagan and Bush! If that doesn't alienate the hippies I don't know what will. And if you're going to quote Wikipedia it should be all about Bill & Ted's, clearly the more educational of the two films. (I'll give you the stink factor of Bio-Dome.)

Archphoenix: You don't believe me? I went to an independent source to see if they could help. (which is a fun site by the way) has a top ten list of best time travel films. Bill & Ted's is in the fifth spot. Back to the Future? Number one, baby!

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So who wins? Marty or Bill and Ted? Have your say in the comments!

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