"Be excellent to each other. And party on, dudes."
I’m going to start this review by dating myself, which, for a film series about time travel, is appropriate.
Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure came out a year after I was born (1989), with its sequel Bogus Journey just 3 years later in 1992. So, of course, I never saw them when they were most relevant. No, instead I picked them up during the heyday of my Blockbuster renting phase – there I go, dating myself again – in the late 90s. And boy did I love these movies. But if I’m being honest, if you put them under a microscope at all, they completely fall apart.
However, they manage to sidestep this pitfall entirely by exuding a simple confidence in knowing exactly what they are: goofball surrealist comedies with a straightforward, feel good message. So if you get on board, you’ll enjoy the ride. And, sometimes, that’s enough.
But it’s been about 30 years since we last saw Bill S. Preston Esq. and Ted “Theodore” Logan on the big (or small) screens, but there have been similar late-sequels to once beloved franchises which at best flopped and at worst retroactively tarnish the originals. So it would be natural for Bill and Ted 3 to fall into the same pigeonhole.
Bill and Ted Face The Music does not do that.
The movie manages to recapture the quiet confidence of the originals, and, at the same time, manages to take the characters and universe a step forward towards a wholesome conclusion well in line with what came before it.
Face The Music opens in 2020 (a version of 2020 not ravaged by… literally everything) with Bill and Ted’s band, the Wyld Stallyns, in disrepair. The prophecy of their music uniting the world and bringing harmony to the cosmos, as stated by George Carlin’s Rufus in the previous films, has not yet come to pass and the now 50-something heroes are a little tired. Now, make no mistake, these are the same Bill (Alex Winter) and Ted (Keanu Reeves): they’re still as earnest and goofy, but mellowed out from 30 years of alternating success and failure – not to mention the pressure of having to write a song that fixes the world.
Their characters have seen a progression that feels natural, but not so much to undercut the hopeful tone of the film with cynicism.
So when Rufus’ daughter Kelly (Kristin Schaal) comes to them and reveals that time and space will collapse in 77 minutes if they don’t write and perform the song that saves the world – and now reality for some reason – the two of them reluctantly answer the call… and decide to steal the song from themselves in the future when the have written it – which is such a Bill and Ted thing to do.
Meanwhile, seeing the danger their fathers are in, their daughters – little Bill (Brigette Lundy-Paine) and little Ted (Samara Weaving) – travel through time to assemble an all-star band to help.
What follows is a mash-up of the delightful time travel of Excellent Adventure and the bizarre creativity of Bogus Journey that reads as a commentary on expectations, growing older, growing up (which are two different things), and realizing ones place in a wild, uncontrollable universe. But, most importantly, Bill and Ted Face The Music never loses sight of the optimistic spirit and odd, goofball comedy of the originals, but recontextualizes it through a modern lens, ending – albeit abruptly – as it should with a message of harmony and understanding. It is an excellent and appropriate way to cap off the series.
Are there problems with the movie? Absolutely. There are parts which feel unnecessary, sideplots that are ignored entirely, and some questionable editing decisions. But, again, none of those are narrative-breaking decisions if you’re on board to enjoy the ride.
Bill And Ted Face The Music might not be the greatest movie of all time, and it’s certainly not going to win any Oscars. But, more importantly, it’s kind of the movie we need right now. A goofy, yet earnest, film whose heart is in the right place and seeks to reiterate some simple truths that we need to be reminded of today:
Be excellent to each other. And party on, dudes.
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G.M. Nair is a crazy person who should never be taken seriously. Despite possessing both a Bachelor’s and Master’s Degree in Aerospace Engineering and a job as an Aviation and Aerospace Consultant, he writes comedy for the stage and screen, and maintains the blog MakeMomMarvel.Com. Now he is making the leap into the highly un-lucrative field of independent book publishing.
G.M. Nair lives in New York City and in a constant state of delusion.