Inseparable California dudes Bill S. Preston Esquire (Alex Winter) and Ted ‘Theodore’ Logan are rocking out in their middle age. Still with the medieval English princesses, they also have daughters Billie (Brigette Lundy-Paine) and Thea (Samara Weaving), who are very much cut from the same designer cloth and love rock music. However, The Future needs the dudes once again. Kelly (Kristen Schaal) arrives to tell them that the Fate of Reality is at stake, as the nature of time starts crumbling away. They have just 77 minutes to come up with an actual hit song to unite the world in peace and harmony. They travel forward in time to steal the song from their future selves. Easier said than done…
The Verdict: Does the world really need a threequel to a most excellent comedy film series that dates back over 30 years to a more innocent time? Yes, actually. Given the current climate, there’s something reassuringly warm, fuzzy and feelgood about Bill & Ted Face The Music. It’s like catching up with old friends whom you haven’t seen in a long time, such as we find Bill & Ted. They may be middle-aged dads now but they’re still the comfortably dim but totally awesome California rockers with their own dialect. Even marriage counselling can’t separate their ability to finish each other’s sentences, but their magic as band Wyld Stallyns is gradually fading. Their audience is now in double digits and their future (and everyone else’s) is facing down a doomsday scenario unless they can recapture their mojo.
Bill & Ted Face The Music doesn’t try to rock the boat here. It tunes in to the Bill & Ted formula playbook to the note and dishes out a 21st Century greatest hits package: phone booth time travel; legacy elements such as Rufus’ daughter Kelly; a mixed bag of bemused historical figures plucked from their time periods; and William Sadler’s hilarious Ingmar-Bergman-inspired Death returning with a grievance. That’s fine for what it is and these elements sit comfortably within the script by returning writers Chris Matheson and Ed Solomon. It’s just a pity that director Dean Parisot (who pushed parody to the edge in Galaxy Quest) didn’t try something more original for a modern audience who most likely grew up with these bodacious dudes. Familiarity is acceptable, but when a film follows so long after its predecessors it can’t just ride on childhood nostalgia and good will alone.
As a result the film is ultimately saved by the presence of Billie and Thea, who become a force of their own. While Bill & Ted flick forward to meet increasingly daft variations on their future selves as they attempt to find the right song, their daughters are hard at work getting a new band together. This is where the heart of the film is, with Brigette Lundy-Paine and Ready Or Not’s break-out star Samara Weaving finding the right groove in their performances and their characters. They’re a joy to watch and add a welcome element of structure to an otherwise loopy, breakneck story. That’s not to say that Alex Winter and Keanu Reeves don’t have some great one-liners, as they tie themselves in time knots to figure out a solution to the end of the world. They slip back into their amiable characters like a pair of old slippers. It’s just that Bill & Ted don’t haven’t progressed much as characters in the three decades since, as if they were stuck in a time loop. Perhaps that was the point.
Bill & Ted Face The Music has the air of a band slowly tuning up before eventually coming together and making beautiful music. Hit and miss then, but leaning slightly more on the hit side. Sure, there are elements that are unnecessary (a killer robot with a conscience, who looks like a Star Trek reject) and an apparent unwillingness to bend the formula, but there’s still a resplendent joy to be had here in watching the orchestrated chaos unfold. It builds to a satisfying, if slightly abrupt, conclusion (though, there is an extra scene at the very end of the credits). Party on, dudes like it was the 1980s all over again.
Rating: 3 / 5
Review by Gareth O’Connor
Irish Release Date – September 16th 2020
Bill & Ted Face The Music (USA / Canada / Italy / PG / 92 mins)
In short: Hit and miss
Directed by Dean Parisot.
Starring Keanu Reeves, Alex Winter, Kristen Schaal, Samara Weaving, Brigette Lundy-Paine, William Sadler.