In 1989 I was bored and decided to go to the cinema. I had no idea what was on at the time so I looked at what was available and pretty much chose Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure at random. I had heard nothing of the film and had zero expectations. As the film began I was very quickly sucked into its premise and enjoyed the ride for all that it was worth. Two years later Bill and Ted’s Bogus Journey offered another twisted time-travel romp. Then, nothing. Now, after twenty-nine years, we are offered a final twist in Bill S. Preston, Esquire (Alex Winter) and Ted Theodore Logan’s (Keanu Reeves) life journey from high school burn outs to universal saviours in Bill and Ted Face the Music.
To recap Bill and Ted’s life they start out as high school students at San Dimas High School in San Dimas, California. Their only goal in life it to make it big with their ‘band’ Wyld Stallyns. Unbeknownst to them in the future they are hailed as universal saviours because their music brings universal peace and prosperity to all beings. However, not all is smooth sailing. In the future time travel has been perfected and there are certain events in Bill and Ted’s lives that can alter the future away from perfection. A guide, Rufus (George Carlin) with a time machine in the guise of a phone booth is sent back to assist the boys with a crucial history report. A pretty thin plot but the whole thing works perfectly.
At the end of Bill and Ted’s Bogus Journey they have gotten their act together, learned to play, won the battle of the bands and achieved rock-god status. As the credits roll we see that not all is well with Wyld Stallyns and we are led to believe a third adventure will be forthcoming. Finally, we are given that adventure.
When Bill and Ted Face the Music opens things are not going well for Bill and Ted. Their music careers are pretty much over, they struggle to create new material and they despair of every writing that one great song that will save the universe. Their only fans are their daughters, Billie (Brigette Lundy-Paine) and Thea (Samara Weaving), both of whom have undying faith that their fathers will finally write the mythical song.
In the future, things are not looking good. They see the approach of the final nexus where things can swing either way. The Great Leader (Holland Taylor) has a plan to set thing right, but her daughter, Kelly (Kristen Schaal), doesn’t agree so she steals her father’s old time machine heading back to warn Bill and Ted.
Armed with a time machine again Bill and Ted come up with a plan to go the future and take the song from themselves at a point in time after they have already written it. Easy, right? Wrong. It wouldn’t be Bill and Ted if things were straight forward. No, things go horribly, horribly wrong for the duo and only the side machinations of their daughters ultimately help them to the end.
There is a lot to like about Bill and Ted Face the Music. Much of the original cast from the first two films reprise their rolls. It was fun to see Ted’s father, Chief Logan (Hal Landon, Jr.) and his one-time wife Missy (Amy Stoch) once more. Death (William Sadler) makes his comeback with Wyld Stallyns and there was a touching tribute to the late Rufus (George Carlin).
This film is filled with a sense of joy throughout and I put that down to Alex Winter and Keanu Reeves. It would have been easy to have the boys alter their behaviour into more mature and dour adults, but they took the high road and kept our heroes pretty much the same. They fell into the roles with an ease that was apparent and contagious to be frank. I couldn’t help but smile whenever the pair were on the screen.
As much as I enjoyed the Winter/Reeves match up the pairing of Lundy-Paine/Weaving was sublime. These two ladies clearly studied the earlier films and were perfectly suited to the parts of Billie and Thea. They carried their part of the story wonderfully making it hard to miss the presence of their fathers. Their own adventure through time mirrors the original plot of Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure and while fans of the earlier films might see it as derivative, I think it does well to initiate new viewers into the Bill and Ted mythos.
I will say that when I first heard about the development of Bill and Ted Face the Music I was a little concerned that Bill and Ted would become irrelevant to the plot given the state of film-making today. I needn’t have been concerned. I think Bill and Ted Face the Music may be the first film to bridge the gap between films of the past with modern ways of thinking. They are completely relevant to the events of the story, but they do not preclude the inclusion of other characters at all. In fact, the pair go out of their way to be as open with everyone as they’ve always been.
Is the film perfect? Not by any means. There are moments when I would have liked the parallel plot-lines to converge and maybe cross now and again, and I would have liked a soundtrack that was more reminiscent of the earlier films, but those are nothing in the face of what Bill and Ted Face the Music achieves. I can’t think of a franchise that has come back after so long a hiatus with as much fun and joy, and keeping to the spirit of the original films as this one has (I’m looking at you Star Trek and Star Wars). Any future film-makers that wish to re-enliven old stories would do well to look at how Bill and Ted Face the Music has done it and emulate that ideal.
While Bill and Ted Face the Music is a good way to round out the adventure of Bill and Ted, it can in no way compare to the electric feeling that surrounded their first adventure, but I never expected it to recapture that lightning. What Bill and Ted Face the Music does is give the old fans a taste of that first experience while encompassing a whole new generation with open arms. I say bravo to all those involved in bringing this film to life.
Be excellent to each other and party on dudes!
On a side note, Bill and Ted Face the Music was the first film premiere I’ve watched over a streaming service. I have to say the experience was excellent overall. While a big cinema screen might have offered a more encapsulating experience, viewing it at home was a wonderful option and I would not have seen it otherwise. I look forward to watching other films this way.