This long-awaited sequel asks the question of can a song save the world, but can Bill and Ted Face The Music get enough bums on seats to help save cinemas?
Nobody is expecting anything entirely new from Bill & Ted, not every movie needs to reinvent the reel, but in one of the most rambunctious and turbulent years in living memory, all we need from our comedies is some much-needed absurd escapism.
Luckily, Bill & Ted Face the Music supplies a most triumphant hour and a half of screwball chuckles, with the two dim-witted Valley boys with excellent vocabularies and bizarre mannerisms travelling forward in time to write a song that will unite the world while they’re equally wide-eyed and naive daughters travel back in time with the aim of assembling a band of the greatest musicians of all time, including Jimi Hendrix, Louis Armstrong and Mozart.
The two main stars, Keanu Reeves and Alex Winter, despite now being both in their fifties, still fit well into the parts they made famous, making them as endearing and likeable, but it is in the performances as potential future versions as themselves where they really shine, including the only scene which made me laugh out loud where they are chased by themselves from ten years in the future around a certain rock legend’s mansion.
William Sadler reprises his role as the Grim Reaper, a spurned former member of Bill and Ted’s band, the Wyld Stallyns, here to once again help our heroes conjure universe-saving musical genius, whilst resolving a thirty year grievance with the two main characters in a surprisingly touching scene.
Ultimately a throwback to 90s slacker comedies, it gleefully harkens back to the original duology, yet is tinged with an element of tragedy by depicting its titular heroes as unemployable losers without the respect of their wives and relatives, with only their like-minded daughters to carry on their legacy, ultimately showing the long term consequences of Bill and Ted’s lifestyle.
At the outset, it seems this is going to be addressed, perhaps forcing the characters to grow and change for the benefit of their dissatisfied wives and so they can serve as role models to their daughters.
But, that isn’t what this film is aiming for, it’s not trying to be a thought provoking character study, and it’s far more comfortable as a fluffy, unpretentious romp in which hope and optimistic trust in oneself are all that is needed to face off threats of most bodacious proportions.
Many films on the big screen at the moment are quite heavy on the 1980s nostalgia, and if this film had attempted to more than that, it wouldn’t have worked half as well, it merely exists to give characters a lot of people remember one last go-round, hitting all the beats they need to, without providing an unnecessary deconstruction of the genre.
While this ending is all well and good, it is quite abrupt and it would have been a bit better to see some of the plot threads and conflicts resolved with another couple of scenes.
The charm of this film, much like the previous two, is the contrast between Bill and Ted’s eloquence and their ignorance, and the escalating absurdity of the plot, throwing an increasingly combination of characters and historical figures into more and more outlandish situations, which is the film’s one undeniable quality; just how confidently it revels in its creativity and uniqueness from literally anything else out there.
Having said that, some of the scenes later on involving the Grim Reaper and various historical figures play rather like replays of the previous films, only with minor variations that never fully taken advantage of.
Starring as the aforementioned heirs to the Bill and Ted legacy, are Brigette Lundy-Paine and Samara Weaving playing Wilhelmina ‘Billie’ Logan and Theadora ‘Thea’Preston, with Lundy-Paine doing a pitch perfect impression of her on-screen father, capturing the bouncy head movements and excited energy of Keanu Reeves’s Ted beautifully.
Anthony Carrigan plays The Terminator crossed with Inspector Clouseau, Dennis Caleb McCoy, a time-travelling robot sent back in time to kill Bill and Ted, only creating more farcical inconveniences and exposing deep-seated insecurities along the way.
Very much blast from the past, Bill & Ted Face the Music is a worthwhile effort from an old and reliable workhorse, albeit an extremely formulaic one.