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Sunday, April 27, 2014

'Permanent Record' DVD: Bill and Ted's Excellent Afterschool Special

Permanent Record (1988) - Paramount
Buying the Warner Archive DVD release of the 1988 Keanu Reeves film "Permanent Record" is a no-brainer for fans of Reeves' virtually brain dead Ted "Theodore" Logan in the 1989 teen comedy classic "Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure." Reeves' Chris Townsend adds nice layers of insecurity and teen angst to the wonderfully goofy Valley Boy person of Ted.

Having both Chris and Ted being aspiring garage band musicians greatly contributes to this fun. WYLD STALLYNS RULE!!

A link to real-world rock music comes in the form of having The Clash front-man Joe Strummer compose the music for "Record."

As an aside, the 1988 Reeves movie "The Prince of Pennsylvania" is similar to "Record" and another great "before they were stars" role for Reeves.

The opening scenes establish the awesome bromance between Chris and his class/bandmate and generally model teen David. He is a teacher's dream, many girls (and some boys) want to date him, his is a perfect son and big brother, and every guy wants to be him.

The fact that the future of David is so bright that he has to wear shades does not immunize him from the same feeling of many of us mere mortals that the senior year of high school is three months too long. This unease relates to anxiety regarding the good or bad things that await us the following September, stress regarding fulfilling the expectations associated with our final months at the place where we are molded during our formative years, and generally just trying to hold it together for what can seem to be a very long 12 weeks.


David ultimately taking a leap of lack of faith triggers an existential crisis for the already-not-so stable Chris. He wants to understand both how the arguably most stable and supportive person in his life could kill himself and how to deal with the challenges regarding his own existence.

The quest of Chris for inner peace includes working with classmates to plan a service for David that reflects the life of that individual more than the standard funeral that is conducted. Snags in planning the event trigger some conflict.

Although the excessive footage of Chris driving around to aid his cognitive process are cliched and silly, scenes revolving around the preparations for and performance of a typically bad student production of the Gilbert and Sullivan operetta "H.M.S. Pinafore" provide good intentional humor.

The final analysis of this nicely written and decently portrayed look at realistic teen angst is that those of us who have experienced the feeling of the characters can relate to their story, and it hopefully provides younger folks who have yet to reach the final semester of their senior of high school some perspective.