Short Film Review: Anyone Can Quantum
We celebrate the life of the late Physicist Stephen Hawking with a short film. Anyone Can Quantum, directed by Bill S. Preston Esq., wherein Ted “Theodore” Logan calls Antman to kick Hawking’s butt at a game of Quantum Physics. Strap in!
Ok. I’ve talked about films that seemed specifically designed to get my attention. I thought I, Tonya had the distinction of being the most brazen. I was wrong. Alex Winter (Bill from Bill and Ted’s fame) teamed up with Marvel Studios and the National Science Foundation to have Paul Rudd get a call from Future-Keanu Reeves (Ted, duh) asking him to duel Stephen Hawking since he must of course understand Quantum Physics since Antman can shrink down to the sub-atomic level. Ding Ding Ding! Stop throwing punches, the fight is over! Anyone Can Quantum wins by KO!
Anyone Can Quantum (2016)
700 years in the future, society is a Utopia due to mankind’s mastery of quantum mechanics. This mastery was thanks to Paul Rudd, who in 2016 gave the keynote speech on Quantum Physics at Caltech. The only problem: Dr. Stephen Hawking is scheduled to give that presentation, not Rudd. So Keanu Reeves, a timeless resident of both our present and our possible future, sends Rudd a message from the future: defeat Stephen Hawking at a game of quantum chess, win the gig, and save the world!
A Marketing Gimmick of Ant-sized Proportions
While this is technically a short film, it’s more like a promo or long-form commercial for the 2016 Caltech Symposium on Quantum Physics. As such, it can be all kinds of jokey, and it breaks not only the 4th wall, but probably the 5th wall as well. Which is delightful.
Alex Winter brazenly steals most of the underpinnings of Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure, Stephen Hawking is caught mutiple times watching cute cat videos on YouTube, and Rudd does a training montage where he reads Hawking’s own books on QM. It’s an assembly of jokes, references, and Hawking’s patented “hilariously personal insults”. Well, I don’t know if they are patented, but he’s been known for them since his first cameo on The Simpsons.
It’s a fun, breezy little film. At 12 minutes I’m sure it was pleasant opener for the symposium. The only thing that wasn’t all that interesting was the Quantum Chess.
Do You Even Science, Bro?
The science on display here is about what you’d expect from Bill and Ted. If you asked the people who thought Julius Caesar was “that salad dressing dude” to think up a game that uses all of QM’s buzzwords, this is what you’d get. It’s perfectly fine given the lighthearted nature of the film. If you wanted a tense game of 3 dimensional chess a la Star Trek: TNG, sorry, maybe in some other timeline.
Life Would Be Tragic If It Weren’t Funny
In addition to being one of the smartest people of this generation and an inspiration to anyone living with a terminal disease, Stephen Hawking was an affable ambassador of science and humanity. The numerous cameos he graced us with over the years tweaked the nose of the supposition that Hawking must be stuffy, angry, and arrogant given his intellect and physical limitations. Like other science advocates such as Neil Degrasse Tyson and Bill Nye, Hawking put to bed those notions, showing us the wit and wonder that accompany a love of science.
As such, I think this is a fitting tribute to the man. I could have examined his weightier works (he did write the source material for a movie called “A Brief History of Time”), but Hawkings was more than just a brain in a wheelchair. And I didn’t even bring up those cameos in The Big Bang Theory! Oops.