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Bill & Ted Face the Music Review

August 30, 2020 | Posted by Jeremy Thomas
Bill & Ted Face the Music
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Bill & Ted Face the Music Review  

Bill & Ted Face the Music Review

Directed by: Dean Parisot
Written by: Chris Matheson & Ed Solomon

Keanu Reeves – Ted
Alex Winter – Bill
Samara Weaving – Thea Preston
William Sadler – Death
Brigette Lundy-Paine – Billie Logan
Kristen Schaal – Kelly
Holland Taylor – The Great Leader
Erinn Hayes – Elizabeth
Jayma Mays – Joanna
Anthony Carrigan – Dennis Caleb McCoy
Jillian Bell – Dr. Taylor Wood
Kid Cudi – Kid Cudi
Beck Bennett – Deacon Logan
Hal Landon Jr. – Captain Jonathan Logan
Amy Stoch – Missy

Running Time: 88 minutes
Rated PG-13 for some language

It’s really been 29 years since we last saw Bill S. Preston Esq. & Ted “Theodore” Logan in a live-action adventure. It’s crazy to think about that fact. But indeed, it was 1991 the last time we saw the Wyld Stallyns in action in Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey. That strange, wonderful sequel to the somewhat less strange but no less wonderful 1989 film Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure may not have delivered at the box office, but much like its predecessor it struck a chord with many a movie fan.

A lot has happened since then. We’re in the 21st century now, Keanu Reeves has become John Wick, Alex Winter now directs documentaries, and George Carlin has sadly left us. But the desire for Bill & Ted has never really faded. Reeves and Winter have always wanted to return to the roles that made them famous and now they finally have. Bill & Ted Face the Music has arrived in limited theaters plus Digital and On Demand, giving us a chance for another trip around time and space with our favorite idiot rockers.

The film wastes little time in catching us up to speed on the last almost 30 years. Instead of uniting their world with “Those Who Rock,” Wyld Stallions fell apart and their music increasingly fell on deaf ears. As a result, Bill & Ted are stuck in perpetual motion as they try harder and harder to create that one song. Now married to Princess Elizabeth (Hayes) and Princess Joanna (Mays) and with two kids who are more or less carbon copies of themselves in Billie (Lundy-Paine) and Thea (Weaving), Bill & Ted are down to the point of performing at the wedding of Ted’s brother Deacon (Bennett) and both Bill & Ted’s former stepmom Missy (Stoch).

While their music isn’t striking any great chords for anyone outside of their daughters, Bill & Ted’s inability to make that one great song is beginning to have ramifications for all of space and time. Famous people are popping out of their time and to other dimensions. Kelly (Schaal), the daughter of their late friend Rufus, takes them to the future where they learn that they have just a few hours to make the song. They have to think fast – not their strong suit – and decide to travel to their own futures and get the song from themselves after they write it.

However, the future has its own plans and The Great Leader from the 28th century (Taylor) has an alternative theory to how Bill & Ted will change the world. Thus, she dispatches a rather emo robot (Carrigan) to deal with the duo while the lunkheaded heroes go jumping through time – and their equally spacey daughters hatch a time-traveling plan of their own in order to help their dads.

With Bill & Ted Face the Music, franchise creators Chris Matheson and Ed Solomon have crafted a script that forms a sort of thematic bridge between the first and second films. It has elements of both movies in a sort of remix of what made them such cult classics. There is the time travel and famous figures pulled through history element of Excellent Adventure, mixed with the delightfully gonzo story style of Bogus Journey.

Both of those films mix subtle intelligence and overt dumbness in equal measure for a hell of a fun mix, and Face the Music isn’t afraid to rock its way down the same chord progression. There’s plenty of stuff that feels awfully familiar here, but the script knows just how far to play the homage and when to take a left turn to keep things from getting too familiar. The movie isn’t afraid to be a heavy hit of nostalgia right into the veins, but it also carries an admirable desire to actually see the story through to its end.

Of course, Bill & Ted wouldn’t be anywhere near the movie franchise it is without the cast, and they all hold up incredibly well. Reeves has arguably changed the most over the years; he’s a far sight from the Theodore Logan of the early 1990s. But he still captures the spirit of that character, while Winter slips easily back into the skin of Mr. Preston, Esq. As you might expect, they form the heart of the movie, amiably wandering their way through the ill-conceived plan they’ve concocted which gives them a chance to interact with their future selves. Reeves and Winter have a ton of fun with these future versions as well, providing for some pretty epic sight gags and funny moments.

The rest of the cast is more than up to the task of keeping pace, too. The standouts in the film are Lundy-Paine and Weaving, who steal the show with Billie and Thea. Lindy-Paine captures Reeves’ Ted mannerisms perfectly, and Weaving is a delight as always as she channels more of Bill’s spirit than his direct acting choices. Anthony Carrigan is a true delight as Dennis, the robot with a mission that he’s not particularly good at. And Sadler is a welcome return as Death, looking as if he hasn’t missed a single beat since stepping off the set of Bogus Journey.

Look, if I’m being frank, this was by no means a franchise that needed a third entry and we all know it. The first Bill & Ted films formed a complete story and were fantastic as they were. But I’d argue that this year of all years, we need this film. Dean Parisot, hearkening back to his Galaxy Quest days, finds the right feel of science fiction, heart, and humor to make it work. Face the Music captures the unbridled optimism of the previous two films, bringing them forward into the current era in a way that somehow doesn’t feel corny and dated.

There are moments that don’t necessarily work as well as they should, and there are plot moves that feel a bit too fan service-y or as existing just to pad the time out to a proper feature length. But here now in 2020, we need a film this pure whether we really deserve it or not. This is a movie that unabashedly wants to entertain and hopes to unite the world through the power of most excellent rock. It’s the kind of movie that has come along just at the time that we need it the most, and whether it was a “necessary film” or not (as if any film is necessary), it’s one I feel lucky that we have this year.

The final score: review Good
The 411
Bill & Ted Face the Music had every possible opportunity to fail. It's the long-delayed sequel to two cult classic films, with a core cast member (RIP George Carlin) who has passed on and a long, rocky road to the big screen. And yet, much like its protagonists themselves, the film succeeds on the strength of its amiable nature, optimism, and seriously funny hijinks. Keanu Reeves and Alex Winter are in fine form back in the title roles and the rest of the cast (in particular Brigette Lundy-Paine and Samara Weaving) are more than up to the task of matching up with the leads. Feeling like a film from a purer time, Bill & Ted Face the Music is an often-uneven and busy but incredibly fun film that lives up to the legacy of its predecessors, giving fans the jolt of nostalgia and a feel-good groove we probably all need right now.