Rating: 4/5 Stars
Like many beloved film series, there are often talks of sequels and continuations that never get off the ground; even to films that came out over 30 years ago. “Bill and Ted” have been around since the late 80’s and talks of a third one have been circulating since “Bill and Ted’s Bogus Journey” came out in 1991. But due to an inability to nail down the right script and Keanu Reeves skyrocketing popularity and a busy schedule, it seemed like a third entry would never take off. Imagine everyone’s surprise that in a world cornered off by a deadly virus, the movie finally got made and ultimately ended up being the movie the world needs now more than ever. It may sound odd but “Bill and Ted: Face the music” is exactly the pick me up we needed.
Despite being told during their time-traveling adventures that their music would one day unite and save the world, Bill and Ted (Alex Frost and Keanu Reeves) have yet to write the song that would fulfill their prophesized destiny and it’s weighing heavily on them and on their marriages. When Kelly (Kristen Schaal), the daughter of their old friend Rufus (the late great George Carlin) visits Bill and Ted, she tells them they have to create the ultimate song tonight or all of reality will be destroyed. Bill and Ted head into the future to see if their future selves wrote the song they can bring back to the present. Meanwhile, the daughters of Bill and Ted, Billie and Thea (Brigette Lundy-Paine and Samara Weaving) wish to help their fathers and venture off on their own time-traveling journey; collecting famous musicians throughout history to aid in writing the song that will harmonize the world.
To be perfectly honest, I was never a big “Bill and Ted” fan when they first came out. I loved the sequel more than I did the first film and even then, this wasn’t a series I found myself being deeply drawn towards. “Face the music” is not just a cheaply crapped out sequel from a franchise past its time, no, this film is a clear love letter and a celebration of everything the actors, characters, writers, and fans adore about the series and best of all, it presents everything with universal appeal. If you’re a die-hard fan or a casual fan, this film is loaded with great callbacks, nods to the previous films, and the majority of the original cast from the past 2 films and it’s a true delight to see. But even if you’re new to the series or only decide to watch just this film, the humor works in a wonderfully weird way that you can still enjoy it without knowing its history.
Reeves and Frost settle back into their roles with absolutely no difficulty, it’s like putting on an old pair of shoes and remembering everything you loved about them at that moment. They truly feel like the Bill and Ted fans knew all grown up and struggling to adapt. As goofy as they can be and these movies are, the themes of failing to live up to expectations, not accepting change; they’re all very relatable themes that every generation can understand and I love that universal connection. One of the weirder aspects of this film (which is saying something in a film series about a time-traveling phone booth) is watching Reeves and Frost create newer and more unusual variations of their characters through the future timelines they visit. Most of their humor relies on this gimmick and while it can be hilarious at times, other times it feels overplayed.
But fortunately, there is so much more than just our titular heroes: their daughters Billie and Thea are the true secret stars and dual beating hearts of this film. They’re adorable, funny, have immaculate chemistry together, and prove to be more than just goofy female variants of our main band boys. It’s a true delight seeing William Sadler back as Death and new inclusions like Dennis the robot are worth the price of admission alone. There’s just a consistent sense of fun with this film and it’s infectious, you can feel it in the writing, the performances, and the humor and this is exactly the kind of palate cleanser we need in a year as disastrous and depressing as 2020. Never has there ever been a more relevant time for the words “be excellent to each other” than right here, right now.
Overall, “Bill and Ted: Face the Music” is just a blast from the past (literally and figuratively). It captures the heart and hilarity of the series and updates it for today’s era at a time when this kind of message and this kind of movie is needed most. “Face the music” delights fans both new and old with a message and charm to lift our spirits and remind us there are still fun and good times ahead and that it is okay to just have fun with the world again,