I like liking things. That may sound like a weird way to start a piece about Hollywood and wounded veterans, but in today’s upvote/downvote culture full of people looking for an impetus for their next trending outrage, it seems like an important distinction to make. Sure, I’ve been blessed with the salty-cynicism of a Marine turned journalist (both are exceptional jobs for those who like to be yelled at by strangers) but at the end of a long day, I throw on the TV and I’m not looking for something that’ll exacerbate the bad feelings another long day in the Twitter mines tends to plant deep in your chest… I’m looking for the opposite of that.
When my wife and I spot plot holes in movies, I try to think of in-story ways to plug them. When a dumb movie manages to make me chuckle, I revel in my immaturity. And when a movie I’m hoping to like offers up a bit of good news from its production, I try my best to turn a blind eye to my lingering fears about the movie itself and instead just appreciate what good can come of the journey.
That’s exactly what I thought when I came across this tweet from CNN anchor Jake Tapper. Tapper actively supports veteran causes through a number of channels, including donating the advance he was paid to veteran charities when his book, “The Outpost: An Untold Story of American Valor,” was optioned into a movie. As a longtime supporter of the charity “Homes for Our Troops,” Tapper apparently used his Hollywood contacts to reach the production team of Bill and Ted 3, which is currently in production. First, they arranged to auction off a tour of the set to support the veteran charity, but then screen writer Ed Solomon got involved — working to get a number of wounded warriors cast in the film itself as extras. Currently, there are no details about the names of the vets cast or what roles they’ll play.
HUGE shoutout to @ed_solomon not only for donating a set visit to the latest BILL & TED romp for the winner of last year’s @HomesForOurTrps Veteran Day Auction but for ALSO casting some amazing wounded warriors as extras! (Seen below with national treasures Keanu & @Winter) 🙏 pic.twitter.com/kCkLUsq8qK
— Jake Tapper (@jaketapper) August 13, 2019
For those of you who may not be familiar with the Bill and Ted franchise, these films were a big hit in the late 1980s and early 1990s — which just so happen to be the same years that I was of the appropriate age to think these movies were awesome. Keanu Reeves and Alex Winter, playing the titular Bill and Ted, were the stoner-dummy types that were prevalent throughout much of the era’s teen comedies, but these films stood out thanks to unusual plot lines and great supporting casts littered with incredible talents like George Carlin and William Sadler. In the first two installments, we saw the duo time travel to learn enough about world history to pass a high school exam and then travel all the way to the afterlife and back in order to defeat a pair of evil robot doppelgangers… Listen, I told you these movies were stoner comedies.
Another photo from the set of the latest Bill & Ted, in which @ed_solomon cast some wounded warriors as extras after helping @HomesForOurTrps with last year’s auction — can’t wait to see it! Thank you Ed, Keanu And @Winter! pic.twitter.com/vDnkBHccA1
— Jake Tapper (@jaketapper) August 15, 2019
Now, with a third installment in the works, I can’t help but feel like there’s no real way to recapture the magic of the old Bill and Ted flicks. The world has matured into a far more spite-filled place with a more complex sense of humor and less tolerance for Bill and Ted’s good-natured antics. Today’s world feels like “Game of Thrones” and as a result, Game of Thrones is what people want out of their fiction as well… but maybe, just maybe Bill and Ted will manage to break through the misery fog we’ve cultivated in our culture and manage to make a few of us chuckle just a couple of times. Maybe it won’t be everybody… maybe it’ll just be the few of us left that like liking things.
But regardless of whether or not the movie succeeds in recapturing the magic of the originals, at least we can say one good thing came of Bill and Ted 3: a few wounded vets got to have a great experience while raising the public profile for veteran-related charities.
And we can all like that.